On Tuesday, Phenom Hoops released our updated rankings for North Carolina’s Class of 2023. There are always a ton of subplots and headlines worthy of attention, including which players have taken the biggest jump (whether ability or recruitment) and who is still being “slept on” according to the masses. It’s always important to remind the general public that rankings have no real significance in the bigger scheme of things. The common response to this is, “well, college coaches look at these rankings.” Perhaps, but don’t you think that discussions, scouting reports, and their own personal viewings would hold more merit than a numerical ranking? College coaches shouldn’t be recruiting based on any ranking list(s). Regardless, let’s take a closer look at five of the top risers from the collection of prospects…
#11: 6’3 Derin Saran (Asheville School)
It should come as no surprise to see Derin Saran’s name yet again, as his stock has trended upward as steadily as any prospect over the last four to six months. There really isn’t anything new to say. He’s a smart, tough, dynamic point guard prospect with exceptional pace, vision, and understanding of how to unselfishly run a team. Saran is a brilliant passer who touches the paint at a high volume, locates the best possible shot, and makes the correct read with unwavering consistency. He’s also a reliable finisher with a solid perimeter jumper and array of in-between scoring moves. Saran displays useful defensive instincts, rebounds very well for his position, and makes his presence consistently felt in transition. Expect his stock to continue rising.
#17: 6’10 Anthony Robinson (Christ School)
Between his physical tools and development over the summer season, it’s easy to why Anthony Robinson’s stock has started to ascend. He’s a long, fluid, athletic big man who knows how to impact the game through finishing, rebounding, blocking shots, and running the floor. Robinson offers a pretty straightforward identity, which has been a massive part of what makes him so appealing as a long-term prospect to college coaches. Folks should be able to see clear growth in Robinson’s game over the last calendar year. His foundational abilities are already quite useful, but should only get better and better over the foreseeable future.
#18: 6’9 Torey Alston (Winston-Salem Christian)
Similar to the previous two entries, Torey Alston has boosted his stock an insane amount over the recent months. The long, skilled, athletic forward has rapidly become one of the more intriguing prospects in the state. Alston is capable of dominating a game without ever needing to showcase his skillset, given everything he provides as an interior piece on both ends of the floor. However, his feel, mobility, and overall skillset are all quite advanced for a player of his size and position. Alston can finish, post-up, spot-up, attack opponents off the bounce, and simply score in a variety of ways. Furthermore, his slender frame and blossoming skill level should only allow him to continue progressing over the coming months.
#20: 6’5 Alex Bates (United Faith)
The combination of size, shooting, and athleticism will always have a place at the next level, which is excellent for someone like Alex Bates. There is plenty of appeal for a 6-foot-5 knockdown shooter who can meet opponents at the rim and excel within his role on both ends of the floor. Bates has shown the ability to dominate if needed, but typically finds ways to produce without ever needing to force the action. His low-maintenance approach is only going to make for a more seamless transition to the college ranks, as he already knows how to produce without always being a feature guy. Add in everything Bates does as a passer, rebounder, defender, and transition player, and it’s easy to see why so many coaches are involved.
#29: 6’10 Domas Kauzonas (Rabun Gap)
There shouldn’t be a whole lot of discussion needed to understand why someone like Domas Kauzonas has taken a strong leap in the rankings. Even last December, it was easy to see his potential blow-up looming. Kauzonas is a long, wiry, skilled big man with touch, post moves, and reliable floor-spacing ability. He finishes with either hand, displays a useful arsenal on the block, and overwhelms opponents with his perimeter skill. Kauzonas alters shots effectively, scores from all three levels, and rebounds his position well on both ends of the floor. He’s also a solid all-around athlete who should only get better with time and continued strength development. Kauzonas has obvious appeal at the next level.