Phenom Hartsville Classic

Final thoughts, takeaways and stock boosters. (North Carolina teams)

Phenom Hoops travelled to Hartsville, South Carolina to host the inaugural Phenom Hartsville Classic. One thing is for certain, the state of South Carolina is making a heavy investment into quality high school facilities. Hartsville High has a beautiful high school gymnasium and although the host school was unable to participate due to off the court issue, the staff of Hartsville was a great host. Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the final thoughts, takeaways and stock boosters. 

Jeff McInnis: “Building a national program”

We have stated it numerous times, coach Jeff McInnis can flat out coach. Sitting courtside time and time again, Phenom Hoops has enjoyed the flamboyant, entertaining and intense coach. He is one of the most competitive coaches at any level, but it’s more to the story. His teams play hard, they compete, and they play an aggressive but beautiful display of “team defense.” Players move their feet on defense, they communicate verbally, they box out, and more importantly they aren’t afraid to take charges. Playing a brutal and challenging national schedule, Combine Academy is built for the future. The majority of their team is underclassman and as the old saying goes, “success breeds success” and watch for more high-level players entertain the idea of playing for Jeff McInnis. 

Lawrence Frost: “The Pride of D” 

When you look at the Combine Academy roster, it’s easy to get intoxicated with the likes and potential of Jalen Hood-Schifino and Robert Dillington and the balance of the youthful roster. Lawrence Frost is one of the few seniors on this team and his importance cannot go unnoticed. Frost sets the tone for the team’s success by his “in your face” and “ball hawking” full court defensive pressure applied to the opposing team. In the impressive win over The Burlington School, Frost’s defense forced one turnover after another. Frost scored six points and was one of eleven players to get into the scoring column. Frost may not have the offensive skill set as others on the team, but it is his defense that has been instrumental in this team’s identity. 

Bradley Gabriel: “Lincoln Charter geared for another NCHSAA 1A title run”

In the past five seasons at Lincoln Charter, coach Bradley Gabriel has won an average of 27 games per season and won the NCHSAA 1A state championship in 2017. After their win over a very good Trinity Byrnes team, Lincoln Charter moved to 17-2 for the season and look primed for another state championship run. While they don’t have tremendous depth, but they play extremely well on both ends of the court. They are fundamentally sound, have a high team basketball IQ, and a nice blend of talent. Sitting courtside, we were impressed with Lincoln Charter with their active defense and especially their verbal communication on the court. All five players were talking and playing as one unit, which is quite refreshing to see. 6’3 sophomore Sam Cogan led the way with a game high 29 points while 6’2 junior finished with 18 points connecting on six 3-pointers in the first half. 

Sam Cogan: “The 360 All Around Player”

6’3 sophomore Sam Cogan (Lincoln Charter) may have had the most impressive performance the entire day at the Hartsville Classic. We’re talking about a fundamentally sound, high IQ, tough and competitive shooting guard. The southpaw simply has a knack/feel for the game and just goes about making winning plays on both ends of the court. Offensively, Cogan is difficult to guard. He moves exceptionally well without the ball and once the ball is in his hands, he’s able to keep defenders off balance with his hesitation and ability to score from all three levels. 

Mike Wright: “Motivated by one thing”

We often hear “Coach Mike Wright” is one of the good guys in the business. This statement doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of this caring and passionate high school coach. We have often stated, Mike Wright is motivated by one thing and one thing only. He wants to see his players get scholarship. Yes, this is a broad statement, but one that defines Mike Wright as a person and a coach. He has a roster full of scholarship players and may be one of the better teams that is not being spoken enough about. His teams play hard and play together and are playing for a common purpose of playing at the collegiate level. Coach Wright simply doesn’t get the proper credit he deserves. He has a core belief simply to help young men get to the next level. 

George Marshall: “Henderson Collegiate is Fearless”

Coach George Marshall has never been one to back away from a challenge and he has challenged this small NCHSAA 1A charter school a difficult and demanding schedule. In an age where coaches are worried and concerned about wins and losses and career wins, coach Marshall likes to put his team on the big stage against some of the top teams in the state and relishes the David vs. Goliath mentality on the basketball court. Playing without AK Holden in their tough and close loss to Liberty Heights, Henderson Collegiate once again proved they are fearless, competitive, and will never back down from a challenge. The backcourt duo of 6’4 senior Kalib Matthews and 6’3 junior Javonte Waverly scored 19 and 21 points respectively. One more thing, don’t be surprised if we see Henderson Collegiate play Lincoln Charter for the NCHSAA 1A championship come March. 

Joe Badgett: “More than just winning”

Not only does coach Joe Badgett know how to win, but he does it with character and integrity. Joe Badgett is a faith base coach that exemplifies the old saying, “Action speaks louder than words.” In the last nine years, playing for a state championship go hand in hand. Last year, Coach Badgett won another state championship by claiming the NCISAA 3A title. He lost five D1 scholarship players. This year, he has a new team that has been saddled with injuries to two key players, but Carmel still finds a way to win playing a difficult schedule. Ben Burnham and Justin Taylor are coming back into the fold from midseason injuries, not to mention the steady play of Myles Hunter, Glenn Bynum, Kenny Gwynn, and Elijah Gray along with a bench that has been quite productive in recent games. After their impressive win over Marion High School, Carmel Christian moves to an impressive 20-5 record. One more thing, after they get back from the trip from Hartsville, Carmel Christian travels to Alabama to participate in the JTERM MISSION TRIP game. 

Ryan Bernardi “Learning is the greatest teacher”

Coach Ryan Bernardi has youth on his side and learning on the job as the first year head coach at The Burlington School. The energetic and enthusiastic Bernardi has coaching in his blood, it’s in his DNA. Playing in the NCISAA 1A, Bernardi has put The Burlington School on the big stage in terms of playing high profile teams in terms of building a lasting program. Along the way, The Burlington School will take a few lumps and bruises as they did in their lost to Combine Academy, Coach Bernardi will use this as a learning experience. He has his eye on a greater prize and that is to play and win the NCISAA 1A state championship and one way to prepare your team is having them face adversity throughout the season. The Burlington School moves to 19-7 for the season, but rest assured Coach Bernardi will have them prepared for a state title run. Yes, “Learning is the greatest teacher.”