Hurricane Ian closed down the school systems in Cabarrus County and unfortunately we were unable to host the Hoop State Fall League-West Division at Cox Mill High School. That being said, our Phenom staff headed down to Raleigh to the Hoop State Fall League-East Division at the JD Lewis Center. While the two-court facility has “tight quarters,” it’s the perfect venue to host a high school fall league. With a list of great teams and great crowds, the atmosphere was simply electric this past Saturday. Now, let’s take a look at some of the storylines from Saturday.

Does Word of God have too much talent? 

It’s no secret Word of God may have one of the deepest teams in the country. Getting ready for the upcoming season, WOG has put two teams into the Hoop State Fall League. Just looking at our North Carolina 2023 rankings, we have Freddie Dilione (Tennessee)  at No. 1; Isaiah Coleman (College of Charleston) at No. 3;  Mayar Wol (College of Charleston) at No. 4; Davin Cosby at No. 5; Mahki Grant (Morehead State) at No. 19; Truman Claytor at No. 24; Justin Monden at No. 52, and this doesn’t take into account their talented underclassmen. One thing we learned from watching both teams on Saturday, they play hard, they play together, and they are very unselfish. If they can continue to build team chemistry once the two fall league teams are combined, they could have something very special brewing in Raleigh. 

Ahead of the curve on 6’5 Freddie Dilione 

We’ve had Dilione at our No. 1 prospect in the North Carolina 2023 class for over a year, even before conventional wisdom and questions about who would elevate themselves into the top spot. Simply put, Dilione is a special talent. He has length, size, athleticism and a matching skill set for a 6’5 point guard. He’s a 3-level scorer and can create his own shot and is almost impossible to guard if his perimeter jumpers are falling. More importantly, he is as comfortable going to his off hand as his strong hand and has the ability to finish with either hand or thrown one down in traffic. 

Trevor Best is better than we thought

There are times when we simply miss on a prospect and we missed badly on 6’2 2025 Trevor Best. We currently have him ranked No. 30 in our North Carolina 2025 rankings and he deserves and will get a major bump (correction). Best is a long, wirily, athletic, and explosive point guard. He has a certain flair to his game and has the ability to beat his opponent off the dribble utilizing his excellent body control. He plays with confidence and swagger and has the ability to make the difficult look easy. 

6’6 Jackson Keith makes his case for the No. 1 prospect in North Carolina 2025 class

Standing a strong, sturdy, athletic frame, Jackson Keith has the total package. He has the best combination of athleticism and matching skill set in the 2025 class. In addition, Keith has a muscular frame with long arms, not to mention sporting a size 17 shoe. If Keith continues to grow into his size 17 foot, he could easily reach 6’8 or taller. Currently, Keith has advanced ball handling skills for his size/position and is quite comfortable going left. As a matter of fact, Keith prefers going to his “off hand.” Throw in his ability to rise up over defenders from beyond the 3-point line, we are talking about a prospect that could finish a top 20 prospect nationally. 

6’1 ’23 Jake Hart is a winner

Recently, Jake Hart received an offer from Guilford College. Look for his stock continue to climb. Playing on a very talented Strong Center Elite travel ball team, Hart was comfortable being the team’s glue or utility guy. He was the one player that did all the gritty work on the court. Hart played at a full throttle approach on both ends of the court, hustling, diving on the floor for loose ball, taking charges, or simply doing anything to help his team win. He was the consummate teammate. Now, Hart is showing he can be a “big time” scorer and he did just that against one of the strongest teams in the Hoop State Fall League. While Strong Center lost 97-90 to Word of God, Hart finished with 24 points, 11 assists eight rebounds and six steals. Colby Lewis stated, “Jake Hart is one of the toughest competitors you’ll find. Playmaker! Great decision maker! Will help a college coach win a lot of games at the next level.” 

Holly Springs vs. Millbrook (Supremacy in the NCHSAA 4A East)

There’s no question Holly Spring and Millbrook High School will be two of the top teams in the NCHSAA 4A and should be the top two favorites in the East. Holly Springs has more experience returning 9-11 players including 6’7 Collin Kuhl (Georgia Southern), 6’5 Ryan Crotty,  6’4 Houston Willis, and 5’11 sparkplug Micah Jones. Throw in rising star 6’6 Jake Cackovic and you have the makings of a state championship caliber team. On the other hand, Millbrook features 6’7 2025 national level prospect Colt Langdon. Langdon averaged 14.4 PPG last season and we expect his scoring to increase tremendously. 6’6 2024 Jayan Walker is due a break-out year. Throw in the likes of a talented guard tandem of Jacob Lawton and Gabe Cerda, not to mention a storied history and program, look for Millbrook to make a state title run.