Last week, Phenom Hoops traveled out to Bishop McGuinness in Kernersville, North Carolina for the NC Spartans’ media day. The practice featured their five 17U squads, which allowed us to see the differences in style and roster construction between each team. We’ve seen this program put kids in college on a yearly basis, yet this might honestly be their most talented group from top to bottom. It’s a surefire guarantee that college coaches will be pursuing players across these five teams (Liles, Pittman, Patton, Lindell, and Bell), so let’s take a closer look at their individual makeups—moving on to Curtis Patton’s group.

6’1 ’23 Jake Grubb (Ashe County)

Given his status as the lone unsigned senior on this squad, Jake Grubbs should bring a steady, reliable, veteran presence to the table. He’s coming off an extremely productive (and efficient) high school season, where he showcased playmaking instincts, rebounding ability, and a polished three-level scoring arsenal. Grubbs can run the team, create for himself and others off the bounce, or find success as a cutter and spot-up threat. He displays IQ and motor on both ends of the floor. Expect him to be a leader for this group. 

5’10 MJ Edwards (Westchester Country Day)

After watching him over the years, it’s easy to see the growth MJ Edwards has made as an overall prospect. He makes up for his lack of size with a quality blend of IQ, quickness, and balance between scoring and playmaking. Edwards touches the paint at a solid rate, where he’s able to finish or make the corresponding read to set up others. He’s very fast in the open floor and defends his position well at the point of attack. Edward should be heavily involved as a key piece. 

6’1 Josh Bayne (Westchester Country Day)

After looking at their blend of size and ball-handlers, Josh Bayne should be able to carve out a very useful role as a complementary guard. He possesses a sturdy frame, solid feel, and lethal perimeter shooting prowess. Bayne is very reliable in spot-up situations, but can also attack closeouts and make reads as needed. He utilizes his quickness well to keep defenders on their toes. Bayne can also handle the ball if necessary. 

6’4 Jayden McCrae (North Davidson)

Between his size, athleticism, and overall versatility, Jayden McCrae seems poised to emerge as a leader for this team. He’s a long, strong, and fairly well-rounded forward with the ability to play inside the paint or along the perimeter. McCrae rebounds the ball at a nice rate, where he’s able to push the break in transition and make plays for himself and others. McCrae displays feel with the ball in his hands, but can also overwhelm opponents with his physical tools. He plays hard, does the dirty work, and naturally affects all facets of the game. 

6’7 Jalen Umstead (Westchester Country Day)

Although this squad has a pretty solid amount of size, Jalen Umstead will likely be one of their main interior pieces. He’s a big, sturdy post prospect with a solid motor and willingness to make hustle plays whenever possible. Umstead is a capable finisher and rebounder who positions himself well to alter shots defensively. He also runs the floor well in transition. 

6’7 Brayden Venable (Woodland Baptist)

Similar to the entry above, Brayden Venable will add yet another piece with size and energy. He’s a long, wiry forward/post prospect with solid touch, mobility, and flashes of perimeter shooting. Venable is a solid rebounder who runs the floor and looks to capitalize on fast-break opportunities whenever possible. 

6’0 Daishaun Handy (Quality Education)

Considering the balanced identity he showcased at practice, Daishaun Handy should be able to operate in various different roles for this group. He can reliably handle the ball, breakdown opponents, and make plays in the paint—both for himself and others. Handy can knock down jumpers at a solid clip while making his presence felt as an on-ball defender. He displays a nice blend of feel and toughness. 

6’6 Jordan Richardson (Calvary Day)

Although not in attendance, Jordan Richardson will be a valuable piece to this roster. He’s a skilled, mobile forward with touch, rebounding instincts, and floor-spacing ability. Richardson is a very useful complementary piece with the ability to expand his production as needed. He also plays with a nice motor and adaptable approach. 

6’4 ’25 Asher Tolbert (Calvary Day)

Despite not being in attendance, Asher Tolbert should be another guy who will play a vital role for this group. He’s a long, wiry forward with solid athleticism and inside-out ability. Tolbert offers an active interior presence as a defender and rebounder, but can also move in space, get out in transition, and apply scoring pressure. Though he’s the youngest guy on this team, he already has a lot to offer.