On Wednesday, Phenom Hoops traveled to the heart of Greensboro, North Carolina for what would ultimately be an absolute battle between Grimsley and Eastern Guilford. Both of these squads are capable of beating any opponent on any given night, making it clear that neither team was going to back down. Grimsley has hung their hat on the abilities and senior leadership of Ahmil Flowers (HPU signee) throughout the season. Meanwhile, Eastern has put Kadyn Dawkins as their go-to guy for quite a while. The stage was set for something special.
The game opened up in sluggish fashion, which has become somewhat common in the high school game, but quickly turned competitive. After both teams found their footing, Grimsley jumped out to an early lead and maintained their advantage heading into the second quarter. The duo of Flowers and Travis Shaw was largely unstoppable in the first half, dictating the action on both ends of the floor while combining for 25 first-half points. After the break, Eastern came out of the locker room with a newfound fire and decided to go blow-for-blow with Grimsley for the remaining twelve minutes of regulation. Kadyn Dawkins clearly led the way, but strong contributions from Omarion Johnson, Kamell Smith, and Jayron Rankin really put Eastern in a position to win. Both teams had multiple chances to win and missed critical free-throws down the stretch. It was a seat-gripping, breathtaking adventure to the final buzzer, as Eastern Guilford claimed a 67-66 victory over Grimsley.
5’9 ’21 Kadyn Dawkins
It should come as no surprise but Dawkins was absolutely fantastic throughout this contest. He was calm and steady with the ball in his hands, especially in the first half, and worked to distribute the ball evenly to his teammates. Dawkins rebounded the ball very well and pushed transition play with relative ease, shining both as a scorer and playmaker. He’s a pesky on-ball defender with great IQ and quickness, allowing him to constantly disrupt opposing floor generals. Dawkins was nothing short of spectacular down the stretch, hitting one big, highly difficult shot after another and carrying the offensive load during the waning moments. Final stats: 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal.
6’3 ’20 Omarion Johnson
Every time we see Eastern, it feels like Johnson stands out with his well-rounded skillset and approach. This contest was no different, as Johnson just knows how to quietly assert himself within the action without forcing anything. He’s a quality athlete with excellent two-way feel and the ability to operate in multiple different roles on a given team. Johnson is a strong rebounder that offers great weak-side rim-protection and effort on both ends of the floor. Final stats: 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal.
6’5 ’21 Kamell Smith
Though more known on the gridiron, Smith still has plenty of basketball ability in his arsenal. He utilizes his size and strength well to make plays on the glass but also has the skill to make plays with the ball in his hands. Smith hit multiple perimeter jumpers and made the extra pass whenever available. His two-way presence was a major difference for Eastern. Final stats: 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists.
5’11 ’21 Jayron Rankin
As well as the aforementioned trio performed, Rankin was arguably the guy that put them over the top. His resilient approach and nonstop energy allows him to consistently disrupt opponents on both ends of the floor. Rankin did a nice amount of everything and made a ton of useful plays in transition during this contest. Final stats: 10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
6’5 ’20 Ahmil Flowers
There’s no debating who was the most impressive performer from this contest, as it’s quite obviously Flowers. He showcased consistent flashes of leadership and pure two-way dominance throughout this showing. Flowers simply did everything and did it all at an extremely high level. He took over on offense, scoring in a variety of ways, working to set up others, and rising to the occasion whenever the lights were brightest. Flowers legitimately did everything in his power to win this game. While the offensive numbers are appealing, his defensive presence was what stood out the most. Flowers’ blend of IQ, instincts, and athleticism allowed him to jump passing lanes, meet opponents at the rim, and simply make elite-level defensive plays. He’s still getting better, but it’s clear that High Point secured a major building block in Flowers. Final stats: 26 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 blocks, and 5 steals.
6’5 ’22 Travis Shaw
Arguably the most popular athlete in the Triad, Shaw pocketed his reputation as a football star and brought his talents to the hardwood. Given his size, age, and overall demeanor/personality, Shaw has quickly become one of the most entertaining players in the state. It’s truly unfair for a player of his size and strength to be so unbelievably nimble and skilled. Shaw possesses an incredibly strong feel for the game and would be a Division I prospect if he chose to pursue basketball. His IQ, hands, vision, footwork, craftiness, and sheer rebounding prowess are all at an elite level, especially for his age. Shaw is undeniably useful and certainly worth the watch. Final stats: 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.
6’3 ’21 Daniel Cooper
Coming back from injury, Cooper was arguably the main x-factor for Grimsley throughout this contest. He came off the bench with energy and intensity, always moving without the ball to find open seams within the opposing defense. Cooper scored a lot out of the post and from dump-off passes but still operated very nicely within the flow of the team. Final stats: 16 points