On Wednesday, Phenom Hoops released our updated rankings for North Carolina’s Class of 2024. 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 this collection of prospects…

#7: 6’6 Jayden Harris (Salisbury)

Quite possibly set to be one of the most exciting players in North Carolina this season, Jayden Harris has been on an absolute tear over the recent months. He’s a smooth, skilled, crafty wing prospect with an excellent blend of IQ, size, natural leadership, and overall polish. Harris is a high-level shooting threat with the ability to apply constant, yet efficient scoring pressure from anywhere on the floor. He’s a willing and unselfish passer who can reliably set up others as a primary creator. That being said, Harris is more than comfortable at dominating an offense and comfortably dictating the action with the ball in his hands. He’s also a useful rebounder who understands how to disrupt opponents with his length defensively. Offers should continue to accumulate. 

#29: 6’5 Jayan Walker (Millbrook)

The lone transfer on this list, Jayan Walker, seems poised for a breakout high school year following everything he showcased throughout the summer season. He’s a smart, balanced, well-rounded wing prospect who can lead a team or produce in a variety of different roles. Walker is a great athlete with feel, skill, and the ability to overwhelm opponents with his scoring prowess. He’s great in the half-court and open floor, and doesn’t necessarily require the ball to make an impact. During his time with Team Curry, Walker showed flashes of pure dominance. He regularly operated as their focal point, made a lasting defensive impression, and controlled the offense with relative ease. Expect him to continue trending upward.

#34: 6’7 Kaden Hammond (Cummings)

Although college coaches have gotten somewhat picky with their big men since the start of Covid, Kaden Hammond is someone who we strongly feel should have far more action within his recruitment. He’s a big, strong-bodied post prospect with touch, toughness, and the ability to dominate from the block. Hammond possesses an excellent frame with the necessary strength, unselfishness, and physical mentality to overwhelm his assignment on both ends of the floor. He’s a reliable finisher, passer, floor-spacer, and two-way rebounder who understands how to alter shots at a quality rate. Hammond’s steady, translatable game should make him an obvious target for a ton of scholarship-level programs. 

#35: 6’5 Ryan Crotty (Holly Springs)

Given the value of perimeter shooting, it’s easy to see why Ryan Crotty is trending upward in the eyes of college coaches. He’s a wiry, skilled wing prospect with great size and three-point shooting ability. Crotty is a capable passer and all-around scorer who sets up quickly, moves extremely well without the ball, and excels within his role on either end of the floor. He can create his own shot, set up others, and attack closeouts as needed. Crotty works well within the team concept, both as a spot-up threat and team defender, and can expand his production as needed. He has all the makings of someone who should have a breakout high school season. 

#42: 6’8 Wyatt DeGraaf (Cary Academy)

Despite his updated ranking, Wyatt DeGraaf might be the most under-recruited player within this list. He’s a long, mobile, athletic big man with an active motor, interior toughness, and the ability to score from the block or two-man game. DeGraaf is a strong finisher with solid touch and the ability to meet opponents at the rim. He moves very well for his size, and has only gotten stronger and more fluid over the last calendar year. DeGraaf is a terrific rebounder and very useful interior defender who blocks/alters a ton of shots around the basket. He runs the floor well in transition and capitalizes on his offensive chances within the flow of the team structure. DeGraaf should collect a slew of offers going forward.