Although there has been a ton of excitement swirling throughout the last few months, July is finally coming to an end. Between the NCHSAA/NCISAA events in June and the consecutive live periods across July, all levels of coaches have been traveling, evaluating, and establishing relationships with these prospects. Excluding the lone period in July, we will take a closer look at a slew of players who are worthy of recognition for superlatives. Since these come from one individual, it should go without saying that the opinions are only based on personal viewings (I cannot include players/performances that I haven’t seen). Let’s get into it…
Best Workhorse/Blue-Collar Guy:
6’4 ’21 Elijah Thomas
6’4 ’22 Davis Wagner
5’9 ’22 Jarius Northam
Although Wagner and Northam absolutely represent the ideal of “workhorse” and “blue-collar mentality,” it’s difficult to pose an argument to overtake Thomas—who always seems ready and willing to run through a brick wall for his team. In addition to being a high-level leader, communicator, and motivator, Thomas brings a unique toughness and understanding of how to outwork/overwhelm opponents in seemingly every facet of the game. He’s also a strong athlete with a blossoming skillset. Though quite different, Wagner and Northam both represent a very rugged, team-first approach.
6’6 ’23 Julius Harrison
6’8 ’22 Aidan Hadaway
6’7 ’22 Davis Molnar
The idea of “most versatile” was challenging for about two seconds, until recalling that Harrison has become a knockdown shooter on top of his already versatile two-way identity. He can comfortably rebound, operate in various roles offensively, and truly defend three to four positions. Add in his ability to create for himself and others while applying scoring pressure from all levels, and it’s difficult to argue against his placement. Hadaway’s offensive polish and Molnar’s aforementioned point-forward abilities led to their positions.
6’3 ’22 LeBron Thomas
6’5 ’22 Dawson McAlhany
6’2 ’22 Xavier McKelvy
Although dozens of guys could easily be in contention for this list, the provided trio feels about as close to accurate as possible. Like various other categories, the margins were incredibly thin. Thomas gets the nod purely because his team success was ridiculously consistent throughout the month, and FIBA’s floor general was at the forefront. His progression as a scorer (while still maintaining his defense, rebounding, and playmaking ability) has vaulted Thomas into another level of productivity. However, it’s truly impossible to ignore the gaudy numbers McAlhany and McKelvy posted on a game-to-game basis.
6’5 ’22 Karon Boyd
6’0 ’22 Mustapha Shah
6’0 ’22 Jackson Helms
It’s easy to make a case for Shah (already listed as “best defender”) or Helms (who plays as hard as anyone) to receive the nod for this category, but Boyd simply never wavers as the engine that makes a team run. Regardless of setting, Boyd seems to emerge as the heart and soul of any team he’s on. He’s a smart, high-level teammate and leader by example with the toughness, versatility, and nonstop motor to produce in a variety of roles.