We’ve seen a lot of players come through our doors over the years, varying in appearance, skill level, and everything in between. We decided to put forth a “Getting to Know” series on some players who have attended events over the past few years but still remain on the lesser-known side of things. Each of these prospects embody being a student-athlete and getting it done in the classroom as well as on the basketball court, and today’s edition will take a closer look at Clay “Smoke” Hodges of Lake Norman High School.

We’ve seen Hodges countless times, including at our most recent Summer Havoc, where we stated, It should come as no surprise, but the Carolina Riptide has been one of our favorite programs to cover. They encompass the team-first philosophy as well as any program and feature a roster of college-level prospects that understand how to play for each other on both sides of the ball, which often starts with the leadership of Clay “Smoke” Hodges. We’ve written about him extensively, but it’s easy to get enamored with a prospect that continually beats and outworks “more talented” players on a regular basis. Unlike most, it starts with Hodges’ defensive ability, which is undeniably impressive for a guy of his size. At 5-foot-11, he has the ability to switch onto any position and give the opposition absolute problems. Hodges is genuinely one of the toughest kids to attend our events, constantly taking a physical beating and quickly hopping up to prepare for the next possession. He’s an intelligent leader that works through constant communication and great team-chemistry. Hodges is a steady offensive presence that creates for others, evenly distributes the ball, and scores on all levels as needed. He’s a proven winner that will be a major benefit to a program at the next level.

Despite his consistent production, Hodges is the type of player that most opponents wouldn’t expect to be the toughest, most rugged guy on the floor. However, his unique identity is part of what makes him such an enticing prospect. He doesn’t possess elite athleticism or physical attributes, but his ability to shut down basically anyone should make him a priority for next level coaches. Hodges handles and passes the ball well, but can also score in a variety of ways. Not only does he elevate others on both ends of the floor, but Hodges knows how to lead by example in nearly every facet of the game. He is simply a guy college coaches should want leading their group into battle.