Each season, the calendar turns to a new year and the grassroots landscape is reflooded with available senior prospects. Even after travel ball and several months of the high school season, there are still plenty of college-level players who have little to no traction within their recruitment. This isn’t a new trend, but the increased emphasis of the transfer portal has inevitably hurt guys attempting to transition to the collegiate game. The NC GBB roster is a prime example. They currently have five players in the Class of 2024 who should appeal to a variety of programs. Let’s take a closer look…

6’2 Caden Bell

It’s weird to watch a player like Bell perform at a visibly high level for so long and receive little to acknowledgement from college coaches. What is the knock? Where is the deficiency or weakness that’s prevent him from collecting offers? These are no longer rhetorical questions. It’s somewhat unsettling that a player with his combination of leadership, production, and translatable skillset isn’t a real priority for scholarship-level programs. Bell is a smart, rugged, well-rounded guard who is comfortable at doing legitimately everything on the court. Though he typically controls the offense as a primary creator, he’s more than comfortable cutting and applying pressure as a spot-up threat. Bell is a terrific decision-maker and generally unselfish player who consistently prioritizes finding the best available look. Add in his motor, toughness, defensive prowess, and rebounding ability, and Bell’s lack of recruitment just doesn’t make sense.

6’1 CJ Alston

Similar to the entry above, it’s unclear what more Alston needs to do to warrant attention from college coaches. Previously committed to Mount Olive, an unforeseen coaching change forced the two-way guard back into recruiting purgatory. He’s a strong, smart, physical guard who can run the team or produce alongside another primary creator. Alston is equally comfortable with or without the ball in his hands. He’s a terrific on-ball defender with the quickness, positioning, and instincts to force turnovers at a consistent rate. Alston is a well-rounded offensive player who can reliably handle the ball, set up others, and score from all levels. Like Bell, it’s extremely difficult to point out any weaknesses in his identity. Hopefully college coaches will take notice sooner than later.

6’3 Xavier Whitaker

Given everything he’s shown throughout the course of the season, Whitaker has definitely boosted his appeal as a next-level piece. He’s another smart, balanced guard with size, toughness, and the ability to produce in several different roles. Whitaker is a skilled athlete who knows how to find opportunities in basically any context. He does a healthy amount of everything offensively while routinely outworking his assignment on defense. Whitaker is a definite college player who should simply have more attention at this stage in his recruitment.

6’0 Maleke Green

Though somewhat unassuming at first glance, Green is another key guard for this group who certainly has a place at the next level. His wiry build appears like a lack of strength, but it actually proves to be an advantage for him. Like the others, Green possesses the ability to do everything on the court. He can initiate the offense, apply scoring pressure from all levels, or create for others as a playmaker. Green is a nice athlete with a great combination of speed, quickness, and leaping ability. His steady production (and ability to expand his role as needed) should appeal to various programs.  

6’6 Jalik Nicholls

After returning back to NC GBB from Moravian Prep, Nicholls is a guy who should have obvious appeal as a prospect. At 6-foot-6, he possesses the combination of skill, athleticism, and versatility to effectively operate in numerous roles. Nicholls is a quality shooting threat, but also attacks off the bounce and finishes well around the basket. He rebounds and is capable of defending multiple positions. Nicholls can create his own shot or apply pressure as a spot-up option. He’s able to do a variety of different things, but is arguably at his best in transition. Given his reemergence, folks should expect him to be heavily pursued by college coaches.

Additionally, this group has three non-seniors who already make a quality impact and should be key pieces for the future. 6’3 2025 Darius Robinson is a strong, versatile wing/forward who can produce around the basket or along the perimeter. He’s a great athlete with the ability to pass, handle, rebound, and score in several ways. Meanwhile, 6’3 2025 Cameron Barnes is a wiry, well-rounded wing who can do a nice amount of everything while producing within his role on both ends of the floor. Rounding out the group, 6’3 2026 Malcolm McNeil is a long, athletic forward prospect with a high motor and the ability to impact the game with or without the ball in his hands. Between the eight names listed, there is plenty of talent for next-level programs to recruit at NC GBB.