Last night, Phenom Hoops traveled to Piedmont Classical in Browns Summit, North Carolina for a notable battle between two of the better independent programs across the state in Liberty Heights and the Bobcats. There was no shortage of talent on the court, as both teams are littered with talented unsigned prospects who deserve attention from college coaches. Either way, the Bobcats did a great job of fighting and keeping things competitive in the first half. However, Liberty Heights took over following the break and never turned back. The Cardinals’ combination of depth and balanced offensive approach led to a dominant showing from the top-ranked squad in North Carolina, as they claimed a 97-61 victory over Piedmont Classical. 

Liberty Heights:

6’8 ’22 Ezra Ausar

Though everyone in the state can see that Ezra Ausar is criminally under-recruited, one glance at his actual offer sheet and folks realize just how bizarre the situation really feels. Despite being a productive leader and clear tone-setter for a powerhouse program, the explosive forward only holds five offers (UMass, Sam Houston State, McNeese State, Wichita State, and Texas A&M). Two of the five might appear sexier than the rest, but those specific schools have offered a lot of kids in the recent months. It shouldn’t be a crazy idea to think Ausar should be a priority amongst high-major programs. He’s a game-changing athlete with the length, fluidity, and instincts to overwhelm opponents on both ends of the floor. Ausar is equally as comfortable (and reliable) at defending inside the paint or along the perimeter. Although he’s definitely a physical specimen, the forward is definitely more skilled than most people tend to acknowledge. Sure, Ausar isn’t going to breakdown opponents with five or ten-dribble combos—but why would he ever need to? He’s skilled enough to attack within a few dribbles, make quality decisions, and push as needed in rebounding situations. Ausar is also a nice finisher from the block and utilizes his rugged, high-motor presence to accumulate steals, rebounds, and blocked shots. 

6’3 ’22 Elijah Jamison

Since previously decommitting from East Carolina, Elijah Jamison has been as overlooked by college coaches as any prospect in the state. It’s really disappointing to see how someone with his body of work and visible progression over the years can be brushed aside. Even with the transfer portal and swirling uncertainty, Jamison is better than the level of schools who are pursuing him. The truly perplexing thing about his recruitment is how coaches are finding ways to go in another direction. Why isn’t Jamison the answer? The appeal of a smart, strong, unselfish floor general with natural leadership on both ends of the floor should be self-explanatory. He’s phenomenal at getting downhill and attacking, both in the half-court and open floor, and consistently makes quality decisions with the ball in his hands. Jamison is a great playmaker, reliable perimeter shooter, and terrific all-around defender at the point of attack. Like his teammate above, the lack of offers (especially at the appropriate level) is unsettling. 

6’5 ’22 Jalen McDonald

Although he’s the newest addition to the roster, Jalen McDonald already looks quite comfortable at asserting himself for this group. Known for his other-worldly explosiveness, he’s proven to be much more than just an athlete. In this showing, McDonald knocked down perimeter jumpers at an effective clip, made an impact defensively, and attacked the basket whenever possible (where he can finish below the rim, through contact, or above anyone in his path). He excels in the open floor and doesn’t necessarily require the ball in order to make a lasting impact. College coaches need to take a hard look at McDonald, in addition to the entirety of this scholarship-worthy roster.

Piedmont Classical:

6’6 ’23 Julius Harrison

Despite some ups and downs throughout the course of the season, Julius Harrison appears to have returned back to his usual form. Given his status as a skilled, athletic 6-foot-6 wing, he needs to be a dominant piece for this squad to reach their maximum potential. Harrison is versatile, adaptable, and fairly well-rounded, which allows him to regularly affect all facets of the game. Given his consistency last summer, he probably still has another notch to access. Harrison has shown the ability to create, rebound, toggle between positions defensively, and knock down shots at a high percentage from the perimeter. Expect him to trend upward over the next calendar year. 

6’3 ’22 Brent Randleman

Considering his standing as the clear leader of this group, Brent Randleman has really shined as the Bobcats’ main catalyst on a nightly basis. His blend of athleticism and creation skills allow him to consistently burden the scoring load and apply offensive pressure from all three levels. Randleman is capable of finding opportunities in transition, the half-court, or without requiring the ball in his hands. He’s the type of guy who can really thrive within the right context and surrounding teammates. Regardless, Randleman should still be more coveted by college coaches.