Anyone within the grassroots scene already knows about the undeniable excitement surrounding North Carolina’s Class of 2023. However, it’s an extremely guard-heavy class—especially towards the top. Guys like Robert Dillingham, Mikey Williams, and Trey Green have received nonstop attention since entering high school whereas other highly talented players (Aden Holloway and Treymane Parker, for example) get overlooked more often through no fault of their own. The aforementioned players aren’t the only guys deserving of more recognition, as the entire class of big men have been largely brushed aside for flashy, shot-making guards. This article isn’t meant to be negative towards the impressive guard group, but rather to show love to those who might take a little longer to fully develop…
6’10 Riley Allenspach (Lake Norman Christian)
With Lake Norman Christian rapidly going from “unknown” to “one of the more exciting teams in the state,” it should come as no surprise to see Riley Allenspach on this list. Between his physical tools, blossoming skillset, and surrounding basketball background, it would be tough to bet against him. Allenspach is already extremely impressive against players of his age group, capable of leading while truly dominating on both ends of the floor. He’s a reliable passer, ball-handler, perimeter shooter, and defensive anchor—which, at 6-foot-10, should have obvious appeal for high-level coaches. Allenspach plays with a calm demeanor, moves well for his size, and consistently displays a quality feel for the game. It’s still early, but folks should expect Allenspach to become a dominant force sooner than later.
6’8 Elijah Strong (Myers Park)
Easily the most productive player on this list, Elijah Strong is really just getting started after the multi-week shutdown in Mecklenburg County was finally lifted. He’s a smart, skilled, physical forward/post prospect and arguably the only player of this grouping who might not be a “true big.” Strong has grown over the last year, both physically and in terms of skillset, and now shines as the Mustangs’ focal point. He possesses soft touch with either hand and can overwhelm opponents from the block, but also faces-up reliably from the midrange area. Strong can also space the floor from beyond the arc, but understands how to play to his strengths within the arc. He utilizes his body well, rebounds the ball at a strong rate, and highlights useful passing instincts around the basket. Though Strong has only played four games, his nightly averages of 22.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, and 1.8 BPG already speak volumes. He’s certainly a prospect for Division I coaches to monitor.
6’7 Tymaureon Outlaw (Person)
While each of the frontcourt pieces for Garner Road’s 2023 squad could be placed within this mix, our recent viewing of Tymaureon Outlaw left us with a ton of excitement and intrigue surrounding his long-term upside. In terms of strength and sheer physical tools, Outlaw is possibly the most enticing name on this list. He’s already built like a tank, yet possesses fluidity, athleticism, and moves very well for his size. Outlaw does a great job of blocking shots, fighting for rebounds, and running the floor hard in transition. He’s willing to do the dirty work while also capitalizing on finishing opportunities whenever possible. Outlaw is already a nightly threat for a double-double, but truly just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. While his skill development will be worth monitoring, Outlaw’s current motor, toughness, and physicality should have a ton of programs on the prowl.
6’8 Samuel Martin (Apex)
Although the previous trio is probably more well-known, Samuel Martin is certainly a prospect worth noting. He’s a straightforward, fundamentally sound post prospect with an intriguing trajectory on both ends of the floor. Despite his wiry frame, Martin already does a great job of blocking shots, asserting himself as a rebounder, and finishing around the basket. That being said, he can also efficiently space the floor from midrange or beyond the arc while making quality passes to cutting teammates. Martin also runs the floor hard in transition and does a nice job of anchoring the paint defensively. With additional strength and continued in-game repetitions should allow Martin to steadily emerge as a priority for college coaches.
6’8 Jaydin Spillman-Martin (Winston-Salem Christian)
Given the ridiculous amount of talent within Winston-Salem Christian’s organization, it makes sense that Jaydin Spillman-Martin is getting steady reps and improving as a focal point for their regional team. His trajectory over the last two years has been something to see, going from extremely raw to an obvious piece at the next level. In addition to his rebounding and interior scoring, Spillman-Martin offers a rare combination of rim-protection and perimeter shooting. He also moves very well for his size and continues to add strength throughout his wiry frame. Spillman-Martin probably received slightly less attention due to circumstance, but there’s an obvious amount of optimism for anyone who has watched him over the recent years.