Over the evolution of basketball, three-point shooting has steadily become solidified as one of the biggest parts of the game. Guys like Pete Maravich were known for their shooting, but it wasn’t until the modern era where three-point shooting, specifically, earned its value. Reggie Miller acted as a pioneer, Ray Allen carried the torch, and now the Splash Brothers (Steph Curry and Klay Thompson) are arguably the top two threats from distance in league history. Obviously, there are dozens more names worthy of being mentioned from the professional ranks but what about high-school prospects? North Carolina is home to a variety of the top prospects year after year, which includes Donovan Atwell—arguably the best three-point shooter across the entire state.
For what it’s worth, Atwell doesn’t have a complete chokehold on this honor. His Team CP3 cohort, Michael Zanoni, deserves an equal amount of praise and appreciation. Surely there are going to be other names mentioned from across the state, but folks would be hard-pressed to find many to compete with the aforementioned names. However, we are going to breakdown the argument for what gives Atwell the nod as the top perimeter shooter and question why he doesn’t currently hold more action within his recruitment.
For starters, it needs to be prefaced that the best shooting title comes with a massive caveat: volume and consistency is obviously extremely important but being able to translate to a high-level college program is going to play a factor in this overall discussion. Insert Atwell and it’s difficult to find many prospects with a longer list of qualifications. In just looking at his totals from last season (per MaxPreps), Atwell shot 42% from distance while being ranked fourth in made and attempted three-pointers. His actual percentage ranks 33rd, but his attempts far exceed those with higher efficiency.
We already made this claim numerous times, including most recently after attending the Team CP3 open gym. That being said, Atwell seems to have only gotten more lethal since actual games are being played. He attended our Phenom Challenge with Team Eat and absolutely set the nets ablaze throughout the weekend, including a contest with ten made three-pointers and another with seven. So, what sets him apart from the other candidates?
Well, his body of work speaks for itself but it’s Atwell’s uniquely impressive combination of possessing gravity, a quick release, and the ability to access clean looks from anywhere on the floor. To clarify the term of ‘gravity,’ Atwell forces opponents to stay within arms length and offers an incredibly low likelihood of ever getting blocked or even being properly contested. He understands space and timing as well as any perimeter threat, both to prepare his own shot and to account for defensive pressure, but can also regularly hit shots with legitimately no angle, falling down, or hands in his face—sometimes even a combination of the three.
After finding clear success with Lake Norman Charter, the 6-foot-5 wing opted to transfer to Davidson Day. This should only make him more appealing, since it’ll provide him with ample time to continue developing his overall physique. The last separating quality for most is Atwell’s three-point shooting should translate to every level of Division I basketball (Zanoni also sits directly in line with this notion). Right now, his recruitment is somewhat frustrating. Kudos to Winthrop for being first to the party, as he’s almost guaranteed to accumulate another ten to twenty offers before it’s all said and done. It’s quite difficult to find a low-maintenance guy like Atwell with the total package of IQ, size, and high-level shooting from distance. Make no mistake, he’s still underrated at this point but should certainly have his fair share of suitors over the next two years.