This season, the Liberty Heights Athletic Institute made major waves by announcing the formation of their varsity team (in addition to the national program). We’ve seen plenty of regional or secondary teams designed to complement the “main” team, but it’s unlikely that anyone could’ve anticipated what would ultimately be created under Coach AJ Jones, Mike Wright, and the rest of their quality staff. For starters, the only thing that makes their group a “varsity” squad is the actual word itself. In terms of talent, they can legitimately go toe-to-toe with any team in the state. We’ve written extensively about both squads and maintained a consistent tone about the lack of recruitment, but their trio of senior big men, Josiah Dow, Jabare Perry, and Charles McClennahan Jr. still need more attention from scholarship-holding coaches. (Although only one of these guys plays with the varsity group, the explanation above was presented to prove that high-level talent exists throughout the program).
In looking at Dow, we’ve already previously stated how improving his general mentality has paid clear dividends on the court. Add in his skill and interior presence, and various programs should be involved with the 6-foot-7 forward. His foundation was predicated on being a strong, powerful force on the block and, while he has maintained his low-post arsenal, Dow’s progression of skill has been something to see. He’s smart, moves well, and can score in a variety of different ways. Dow is a great partner in the two-man game, possessing the ability to pop or roll (and convert at both), and does a quality job of playing through contact on both ends of the floor. He’s also a nice passer with touch, footwork, and solid mobility. Expect Dow to continue blossoming at wherever he ends up.
Meanwhile, Perry is another highly skilled post prospect who looks equally comfortable when setting up on the block or spotting-up along the perimeter. He’s long, strong, and fairly athletic, but also causes matchup problems by being more mobile than majority of his assignments. Perry simply provides a steady presence on both ends of the floor. He’s comfortable at altering shots around the basket, but can also hedge a ball-screen and move effectively in space. Like his teammate above, he’s skilled enough to set up others, score in numerous ways, and exploit matchup problems with consistency. Perry plays hard, finds opportunities within the flow of the action, and rebounds the ball at a suitable rate on both ends of the floor. He should have more offers as someone who could be an early contributor for various programs.
Finally, McClennahan (like the other two) is as skilled as any notable forward/post prospect across North Carolina. However, he’s also a great athlete with strength, mobility, and an enticing frame, which only makes him more of a matchup problem. McClennahan handles the ball and creates off the bounce very well for his size, but also looks comfortable when posting-up, spotting-up, or finding opportunities as a cutter. Although he’s already quite effective on a night-to-night basis, he’s the type of player who could be even better upon reaching the next level. There is an obvious amount of appeal with McClennahan, so it’ll be exciting to see what programs get involved going forward.