On Friday, Phenom Hoops traveled to Northern Guilford in Greensboro, North Carolina, as the Nighthawks prepared to host the Eagles of Eastern Alamance. For Northern, this might be their most talented team in recent memory and first-year head coach Kellen Parrish has already unveiled a very cohesive game plan. On the other side, the Eagles have always found ways to be relevant and competitive—despite consistent roster turnover over the years. With both teams finding success to start their season, the stage was set for a fairly exciting battle.
Things kicked off in somewhat competitive fashion, as it was pretty evenly matched through the first few minutes. Following the early back-and-forth, the Nighthawks immediately rattled off a 21-1 run to close the quarter with a 30-6 lead. Although Eastern Alamance began to turn things around, the Nighthawks maintained their double-digit deficit and entered halftime with a 51-27 advantage. After the break, it was more of the same, as Northern Guilford continued to put their foot on the gas throughout the third quarter and ultimately cleared the bench in the final period of play, leading to an 82-42 victory for the Nighthawks.
6’5 ’22 Nolan Hodge
It’s can be tricky when attempting to properly project a prospect to the collegiate ranks, but it’s becoming more and more clear that Hodge should be recruited at the highest possible level. Since public school basketball just recently started, it seems like so much of college coaches’ attention has been directed towards guys who have been playing for the last few months and are already known commodities. Props to Duquense and Old Dominion for being the first to offer earlier this summer, as holding only two offers is legitimately laughable at this point. What are schools missing? At 6-foot-5 with IQ, length, athleticism accompanied by a complete skillset and clear upside still remaining, the appeal should be obvious. He’s truly an offensive weapon with the ability to shine as an efficient three-level scorer, regardless of actual volume. Hodge is so fluid and continues to show a desire to utilize his athleticism. Additionally, his leadership with the Nighthawks is extremely promising. Everyone should be taking note of Hodge. Final stats: 23 points (8-11 FG), 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 block.
6’1 ’22 Jackson Helms
Arguably no player on this roster has improved more over the last six to eight months than Helms, who has really developed into a two-way problem for opponents. He’s always possessed toughness, great energy, and a quality feel for the game. However, his strides as an athlete, defender, and perimeter shooter should have scholarship-level programs watching closely. Helms is truly a pest at the point of attack, offering a blend of quickness, positioning, and anticipation to harass opposing ball-handlers into miscues and turnovers. He’s unselfish and terrific at getting downhill, where he’s a proven finisher and playmaker. Helms willingly does the little things and makes hustle plays at every possible opportunity. Add in his quality three-point shooting, and he should only continue to turn heads. Final stats: 15 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block.
6’1 ’22 Manny Elliott
Although he used to play with these guys in middle school, Elliott’s transfer makes him the newest addition to this group. However, the transition has been seamless and his abilities make the Nighthawks even tougher for opponents on a nightly basis. Elliott is a pure bucket-getter with the ability to actively mix up his approach while applying pressure from all three levels. He’s crafty, yet smooth, and can finish, access his lethal midrange jumper, or make smart passes to his teammates. Elliott is also great in transition and seems to naturally make plays within the flow of the action. Like the aforementioned duo, Elliott should have plenty of suitors at the next level. Final stats: 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 steal.
6’0 ’21 Owen Griffith
While the other three might receive more attention, it’s impossible to ignore the value that Griffith brings to this roster. His tough, unselfish, high-motor identity truly allows him to run the offense while outworking his assignment defensively and operating within a low-maintenance role. Griffith possesses a quality nose for the ball, able to consistently secure rebounds, loose balls, and second-chance opportunities—despite being one of the smallest players on the court. He’s the type of difference-maker that pretty much every high school program requires. Final stats: 3 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 steal.
6’3 ’22 Darius Kane
Despite a rough showing for the Eagles, Kane still shined as Eastern Alamance’s undisputed leader on both ends of the floor. While his numbers won’t jump off the page, Kane clearly has the makings of a scholarship-level player and should be recruited as such. He still dictated the offensive action, set up others at a nonstop rate, and made his presence felt defensively and in transition. Kane is able to score the ball from all levels, both off the catch and dribble, and can find scoring opportunities as an off-ball cutter. He’s a well-rounded player whose numbers dipped due to ridiculous amounts of defensive pressure from the Nighthawks. Final stats: 13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.