Hoops and Dreams “Thoughts, Takeaways and Stock Boosters” Part 1

The 3rd Annual Hoops and Dreams sponsored by Lucas Moore Reality and Phenom Hoops featured 20 teams that provided another exciting weekend of basketball and storylines. Held at the campus of Methodist University, the two-day post-Thanksgiving event was a huge success and gave us a snapshot of things to come in the “Hoop State.” 

Moravian Prep is a nationally top 25 team

Coach Antonio Lowe has done a masterful job of accumulating a boatload of talent. That being said, it’s about time he and Moravian Prep gets the credit they deserve on a national level. Featuring NC State signees Five Star Josh Hall and Four Star Shakeel Moore, they continue to make an impression on the court. However, Coach Lowe is making excellent coaching decisions on the sidelines, whether it is making “in-game” adjustments or making his team execute offensive sets when they are 20 plus points ahead, Antonio Lowe is growing as a coach and can compete with any team in the country. They will be battle tested in December, but one thing is for certain, Moravian Prep has arrived and when the team is “dialed in,” they are in the conversation as one of the nation’s elite. 

6’3 2021 Tequavion Smith (Farmville Central) is the real deal

In the game against defending NCISAA 1A Champion Greenfield, Smith had “THE GAME” of his high school career. Playing on the defending NCHSAA 2A state championship team that went undefeated (32-0) Smith scored a tourney high 40 points and winning the game MVP honors. To make matters worse, we had him under-ranked and embarrassingly low for his overall athleticism and skill set. The one thing I’ve learned over the years, is to own up when we have erred and to put it bluntly, we actually blew it on Smith. Smith is without question in the conversation as one of the top players in the state for his class! No questions asked. We’re talking about a super athletic wing that is also flying under the radar nationally. In speaking with Farmville Central’s head coach Larry Williford, he stated Smith’s performance was amazing but not surprising. Smith went 16-21 from the floor, 2-4 from the 3-point line and a perfect 6-6- from the free throw line. In addition, he collected five rebounds, dished out four assists, blocked two shots and even had two steals. Give NC State credit for recognizing Smith talent’s early. While many pundits were questioning if Smith was “ACC or NC State,” good, you can go ahead and bury those thoughts now. 

Greenfield School continues to get overlooked

Greenfield is the defending NCISAA 1A state champions. They are well coached (Rob Salter) and return the lion’s share of their roster from last year. While Greenfield lost a tough game to Farmville Central, the game was tied with less than two-minutes remaining. They have a “Iron Five” and a group of players that simply don’t get the proper credit they deserve. First of all, they have great chemistry on the court and have all bought in to the team first philosophy. In the game against Greenfield, the entire starting five scored in double figures. Leading the way was Wake Forest signee Dji Bailey as he alone scored 18 points, collected seven rebounds, dished out two assists, blocked one shot and had two steals. Bailey is the perfect team player that plays well within the system sacrificing individual accolades for team success. Also, scoring in double figures was Collin Guilford (18 points), Creighton Lebo (17 points and five steal), while Jordan Lynch and Trey Pittman both chipped in 15 points. The NCISAA 1A will be much improved with teams like Trinity Christian competing for the state title, my early season favorite goes to Greenfield once again to repeat as state champions. They have a senior laden team that has been battle tested and under the leadership of Rob Salter, they will only continue to get better as the season rolls alone. 

It’s no secret, Jeff McInnis can flat out coach

As a player, Jeff McInnis hated to lose, as a coach he hates to lose even more. As a player, he was intense and it’s no surprise, McInnis is equally intense and often animated on the sidelines. It’s in his DNA and there’s no hiding his emotions. He coaches hard and expects nothing short in return from his players. While coach McInnis doesn’t accept losing, and while he won’t accept a moral victory in the loss to Huntington Prep, let’s take a much closer look. Going up again the nation’s fifth ranked team that featured nationally ranked 6’8 Jaemyn Brakefield (Duke), 6’9 Isaiah Cottrell (West Virginia), and 6’3 AJ Hoggard (Michigan State), Combine Academy went into halftime 31-26, which included a “Hail Mary” 3-pointer at the buzzer. Leading 43-42 with seconds remaining in the third quarter, Huntington Prep once again had a last second “Hail Mary” 3-pointer to take a 45-43 lead heading into the fourth quarter. While Huntington Prep came away with the win, the final 70-56 score was not indicative of how close the game actually was, not to mention Combine was playing without the services of Kris Robinson, who is their best perimeter shooter and also freshman sensation Robert Dillingham played limited minutes due to injuries. Putting it into perspective, on paper, Combine Academy was in the game and not many coaches could have done what Jeff McInnis did in this game.

Be sure to check out Part 2: https://phenomhoopreport.com/hoops-and-dreams-thoughts-takeaways-and-stock-boosters-part-2/