Over the past few months, we’ve covered the NC Gaters program quite extensively—both at their open gyms and during our events. They started the summer season with some struggles but have since played their way back into relevance. This is certainly not coincidental, but more of a direct result of uptick in play from numerous individuals. While their entire roster is worth noting, this article will mainly take a closer look at the main catalysts for their improvements over the last weekend…
For starters, it should be mentioned that guys like 6’4 ’22 JaKiah Spencer, 6’5 ’22 Drew Watkins, 5’5 ’23 Michael Godette weren’t in attendance during the Summer Havoc. However, most of their production was filled from the likes of 6’2 ’22 Khalil Riley, 5’5 ’23 Riggs Handy, 5’10 ’22 Luke Brewington, 6’4 ’22 Marschall Uber, and 5’10 ’22 Jordan Wall. Additionally, we’ve already written at length about 6’6 ’22 Nolan Hodge and 6’1 ’22 Jackson Helms (Bendel’s Best/NGHS Foursome) and their overall value within this grouping.
That being said, we are left with three players left to acknowledge: 6’7 ’22 Jackson Noble, 6’0 ’22 Connor Ballou, and 6’6 ’23 Julius Harrison. Noble is the latest addition to the roster, returning to his former squad after playing with the Greensboro Warriors for the last few weekends. In many ways, he’s was their x-factor throughout the past weekend. Noble is very skilled and caused matchup problems for the opposition with his ability to score in so many different ways. He finished around the basket, operated out of the post, hit midrange jumpers, and efficiently spaced the floor from beyond the arc. Though still somewhat wiry, Noble showcased quality toughness as a defender and rebounder within the paint. He moves well for his size and displays an understanding of how to make an impact on both ends of the floor.
Meanwhile, Ballou has arguably been the Gaters steadiest performer throughout the summer season. He possesses an excellent balance between playmaking and three-level scoring, but has also shown an improved aggression when tasked with looking to score. Ballou plays a smart, unselfish brand of basketball and looks to make the best available decision with the ball in his hands. He’s quite tough and displays an edge as a defender, highlighting quickness, positioning, and great anticipation instincts. Ballou typically operates as a floor general but can easily slide off-ball and still find a ton of success—largely due to his IQ, fundamental approach, and sheer precision as a perimeter shooter.
Last but not least, Harrison has done as much developing as anyone on this roster over the last twelve months. We’ve had eyes on the versatile wing/forward for quite a while but his game is starting to come together at the perfect time. He joined this group just prior to the season and has found himself in a position to consistently thrive as their glue-guy and main utility player. Harrison’s tools and overall understanding of the game have always been evident, but his strides have a three-point shooter have vaulted him into new territory. He’s a quality athlete with a high motor, strong rebounding sense, and the ability to seamlessly defend three to four positions. Harrison is skilled enough to push the break in transition or attack off the bounce in the half-court, but also finds scoring opportunities as a cutter. Though reclassifying wasn’t totally necessary, it should give him adequate time to continue developing and attracting college coaches.