The last few years at Moravian Prep have been very interesting. Two years ago, they won the Hoopstate Championship and advanced their core grouping (Josh Hall, Shakeel Moore, Javarzia Belton, Jamahri Harvey, etc.) to the next level. Shortly thereafter, Coach Antonio Lowe departed for his own program—putting Coach Jeremy Ellis back in complete charge of the Lions’ day-to-day operation. Last season, Ellis had no issue putting together a highly appealing team while maintaining their previous success. They were a resilient group who could legitimately go toe-to-toe with any opponent in the state. Unfortunately, the flux of incoming and outgoing players didn’t lead to incredible cohesion (especially compared to their current squad). Still, going 26-6 with notable victories against Combine Academy, Winston-Salem Christian, and The Burlington School (x2) should’ve brought a ton of optimism. 

In transitioning to the current season, Coach Ellis retooled and reloaded their roster—arguably even better than before. They only returned four players: Eli Ellis, Jackson Holt, Hamilton Campbell, and Isaac Ellis (who played limited minutes during his seventh-grade season). Building a legitimate contender with only four returning pieces would be a tall task for anyone, but their present squad is as noteworthy as any team in North Carolina. The additions of Justin Banks, Mayar Wol, and Ryan Roberts, paired with the aforementioned quartet, provide the Lions with a very solid rotation. However, guys like Drew Tebbe, Lane Lauderbaugh, Bailey Coles, Marvin Thompson, and Yohann Axel Sam should also appeal to college coaches. Although the players are very talented, their approach and overall discipline as a group are the separating factors. Let’s take a closer look…

While it should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen this group, the brotherly duo of Eli and Isaac Ellis largely control the action for the Lions. Given his sturdy frame and creation instincts, Eli is certainly more capable of imposing his will on a nightly basis. He’s a constant shooting threat, both off the catch and dribble, with the ability to apply pressure from pretty much anywhere in the half-court. Ellis is at his best when utilizing his crafty handle to generate space and hit perimeter jumpers with an extremely high degree of difficulty. However, he’s more than capable of playmaking and regularly looks to attack or set up others off the bounce. Eli is also a pesky defender with IQ and toughness. His on-court identity can be directly attributed to his supreme work ethic over the years. Meanwhile, Isaac is still in his eighth-grade season, yet already contributes comfortably for this nationally competitive squad. He’s a premier three-point shooter (but this has always been the case) with the necessary blend of IQ, vision, and toughness defensively to reliably produce within the confines of Moravian’s structure. Both siblings already contribute very well, and should only continue to get better over the foreseeable future. 

As important as the Ellis brothers are, one could legitimately argue that Justin Banks is as vital to the Lion’s success as anyone on the roster. At a long, explosive 6-foot-7, his rugged low-maintenance identity naturally leads to consistent production. Banks truly doesn’t require a single offensive touch to make a lasting impression. He’s an excellent rebounder, especially on the offensive glass, and constantly lurks for any available putback opportunities. Banks shows the ability to knock down the occasional perimeter jumper, but generally only looks to make plays within the paint. He’s great at properly running the floor in transition, and making himself available for dump-off passes in the dunker spot (or as a lob threat). Banks alters shots at a phenomenal rate and truly understands how to maximize his role on both ends of the floor. Various types of scholarship-coaches should be in aggressive pursuit, as he will be an asset wherever he ends up. 

The significance of embracing one’s specific responsibility is the main key to this team, and Jackson Holt understands his role as well as anyone. He’s quite possibly the best shooter in the state (certainly amongst unsigned guys), but is more than just spot-up threat. Holt possesses a very complementary game along with size, toughness, picturesque shot mechanics, and the ability to make the right play without fail. He moves well without the ball and shows as much patience as any shooting threat in the state, and refuses to ever force the action. Holt plays hard, defends his position effectively, and forces opponents to account for his off-ball presence at all times. Like Banks, expect Holt to receive a variety of scholarship offers over the coming months. 

After continually proving himself throughout the years, Hamilton Campbell has clearly put himself in a position to be a major difference-maker for Moravian Prep. A lot of our initial viewings of the heady floor general came at our Phenom 150 Camps (both in Kingsport and Greensboro), where the kid simply could not be denied from winning the Mr. Playmaker award. Since then, very little has changed—and that’s a great thing. Campbell has maintained his incredibly sharp playmaking sense through his overall blend of IQ, flair, craftiness, and poise with the ball in his hands. He’s more athletic than he appears, specifically in terms of quickness and open-floor speed, and has steadily transitioned into a phenomenal three-point shooter. Campbell also displays anticipation on defense. He’s trended upward over the recent years, and should be a definite target for a variety of different programs. 

Rounding out the main rotation, we look at the Lion’s final two additions, Ryan Roberts and Mayar Wol. Despite some ups and downs, Roberts seems to have gotten progressively more comfortable with this squad. His primary focus lies within hitting shots and playing hard. Fortunately, Roberts is more than capable of operating within his role and capitalizing as needed. He’s a solid athlete, capable scoring threat, and has continued to refine his body. Meanwhile, Wol is the only junior within their main grouping. His smooth, inside-out game already has a variety of Division I schools in pursuit. However, it’s easy to see his incredibly high, yet attainable, ceiling. Wol is a fluid athlete with the IQ, frame, and elite shooting prowess (particularly for his size) to be an absolute matchup problem. He has special tools and ability, and should only continue to appeal to next-level coaches. Both these guys should see gradual upticks in their respective recruitments going forward.

Beyond the aforementioned seven, guys like Coles, Tebbe, Lauderbaugh, Thompson, and Axel Sam also provide meaningful minutes for this team. Each of them should have opportunities to further their playing career at the next level. That being said, Moravian Prep defeated Combine Academy this past weekend and made their case as the top team in North Carolina. One game doesn’t define a season, but the Lions are currently 9-0 with a slew of important victories. It appears that they will welcome any challenger, and approach each game with their up-tempo, shoot-as-much-as-possible mentality. Various teams will have their case as the top squad, but it would be difficult to place anyone above Moravian Prep at this current stage.