The travel ball season is finally beginning to wind down, which naturally generates a lot of buzz and excitement for the upcoming high school year. Folks are ready to see where seniors commit, what team separates themselves from the pack, and everything in-between. One of the more intriguing subplots of each season is how the freshman will ultimately fare, and this year is no different. North Carolina’s Class of 2026 certainly has an abundance of talent and many guys who should be useful contributors as soon as they step on campus. Each of the following players listed will be worthy of attention throughout the coming months. Let’s take a closer look at five more names… (Read Part One)

6’6 Isaiah Williams (1 of 1 Academy)

Quite possibly the most underrated piece within the 1 of 1 program, Williams has all the tools to be a coveted prospect. He’s extremely long, active, athletic, and possesses a blossoming offensive skillset. Williams already displays great defensive instincts, rebounding prowess, and flashes of versatility on both ends of the floor. He moves very well for his size and understands how to utilize his length effectively as an interior defender. Williams finishes consistently around the basket, but has also shown the ability to knock down jumpers at a nice clip. Though already productive, Williams is still oozing with upside and should legitimately trend upward over the foreseeable future. 

5’10 Max Van Weerdhuizen (Oak Grove)

Though somewhat unassuming at first glance, Weerdhuizen is someone who can definitely play. He’s an intelligent, well-rounded guard prospect who can reliably run a team on both ends of the floor. Weerdhuizen scores the ball at an efficient rate from all levels, but typically prioritizes setting up others, making the right play, and keeping the ball moving in general. He’s an excellent passer with the necessary vision, craftiness, and ball-handling to consistently make plays with the ball in his hands. Weerdhuizen is also a useful defender and capable rebounder. His steady, unselfish identity should make him a valuable piece over the coming years. 

6’2 Ashton Pierce (North Mecklenburg)

Anyone who has seen Pierce over the last few years should already have pretty high expectations for the incoming freshman. However, he’s arguably as prepared for the high school game as anyone in the Class of 2026. Pierce is a polished, well-rounded guard with an exceptional blend of IQ, skill, athleticism, and sheer instincts on both ends of the floor. He scores the ball very well from all three levels, but also regularly highlights creation skills and ability as a playmaker. Right now, his poise, polish, and overall game is still pretty advanced for his age. Given Pierce’s appealing array of tools, it’ll be exciting to follow his progression going forward. 

6’7 Rivers Knight (Jordan)

Between his size, strength, and overall mobility, Knight has a lot of enticing tools at an early age. He already makes his presence consistently felt as a finisher, rebounder, and shot-blocker, but is truly only scratching the surface of his long-term abilities. Knight possesses a similar trajectory to a lot of notable big men before him, where his inevitable growth should be very visible over the coming years. However, he should already be an impactful freshman and nightly double-double threat. There are a lot of quality reasons as to why folks are buzzing about Knight, so it’ll be exciting to monitor his continued growth. 

5’10 Isaac Ellis (Moravian Prep)

It should come as no surprise to see Ellis on this list, especially given how much buzz he’s generated prior to being an actual high school freshman. He remains one of the best shooters in every gym he enters. Although he’s developed improved creation skills and off-the-bounce game, Ellis still knows his primary strength lies within being a knockdown shooter from anywhere inside thirty feet. That being said, he’s also a scrappy defender, useful passer, and capable initiator who knows how to move effectively without the ball in his hands. Like his brother, Ellis is tough, competitive, and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He should have a productive freshman year.