On Friday, Phenom Hoops traveled out to another quality open gym session with one of the Triad’s top public-school programs in Ben L. Smith. Coach Derrick Partee is entering his tenth season at the helm, maintaining their success while consistently getting his players to the next level. Just in the last five years, he’s put over a dozen prospects into the collegiate ranks. Although they were youthful last season, their group seemed as competitive as ever. Two seniors departed (Nyikos Fritts and Maurice Hines) but all signs point to the Golden Eagles getting better and better with this talented young core. Let’s take a closer look at their pieces…

6’7 ’24 Richard Goods

Although he was sidelined with a minor injury, Richard Goods has the tools to be the most talented player on the roster. He’s already collected a few Division I offers (Western Carolina and NC A&T), but is still only scratching the surface of his long-term abilities. At a long, fluid 6-foot-7, Goods understands how to be an overwhelming force inside the paint. He can pass, defend, and finish with finesse or athleticism, which makes him fairly polished at this stage in his development. Goods also shows flashes of perimeter ability, but certainly at his best when embracing his identity as a big man. He displays feel, rebounding instincts, and is capable of being a problem for opponents with his transition presence. Assuming Goods wants to lead the charge, this should be his team over the foreseeable future. 

6’4 ’22 Nayshaun Hale 

After being the Golden Eagles’ leading scorer last season, it should come as no surprise to see Nayshaun Hale standing out at open gym. He’s a long, athletic forward prospect with nice interior toughness and flashes of perimeter ability. Hale finds scoring opportunities in a variety of ways, from offensive rebounds to creating from the wing to posting-up, and can expand his production as needed with this group. He displays solid all-around feel and understands how to effectively work within the team concept. Hale is wiry but long and instinctive enough to make his presence felt as a defender and rebounder. He should warrant attention from college coaches during the upcoming season. 

6’3 ’23 Markquan Gilbert

Given his progression over the recent months, Markquan Gilbert will be a definite x-factor for this squad. Not only is he tough, athletic, and plays with a blue-collar mentality, but Gilbert has also become visibly more skilled. He displays a high motor, nice defensive instincts, and naturally fills in the gaps on both ends of the floor. Gilbert is a capable cutter and useful finisher through contact, but has also morphed into an extremely reliable shooting threat. He utilizes his strong, sturdy frame to establish his presence as a rebounder on both ends of the floor. Gilbert will be a clear asset for this group, and should gradually see an uptick in his overall recruitment going forward. 

6’0 ’24 Gage Lattimore

Although fairly young, Gage Lattimore is going to be an extremely important part of this program—both in the short and long-term. He’s a smart, fairly well-rounded guard prospect with a pretty balanced identity. Lattimore is a capable passer and scorer with the ability to effectively operate with or without the ball in his hands. He displays defensive instincts and intercepts passing lanes at a respectable rate, which regularly leads to transition opportunities. As we’ve seen over the summer season, Lattimore is a blossoming young piece for the Golden Eagles. 

5’8 ’23 Braylon Collins

Returning as their starting floor general from last season, Braylon Collins is easily among the top three-point shooters on the roster. He possesses IQ and a clear understanding of how to set up others while taking advantage of available scoring opportunities. Collins is slightly undersized but embraces his identity very well on both ends of the floor. Like the others listed, he will be a definite asset over the next two seasons. 

6’1 ’22 Xavier Partee

Despite being the coach’s son, Xavier Partee doesn’t receive any special treatment with this group. He’s a long, vocal, active wing prospect with the ability to create his own shot or attack the basket in transition. Partee utilizes his blend of length and energy to make his presence felt defensively, which leads to turnovers and a variety of fast-break chances. He also defends and rebounds his position effectively. Partee should have a productive senior campaign. 

5’11 ’25 Tay Mann

The Golden Eagles’ roster has a variety of young talent, which certainly includes their lone freshman in Tay Mann. He’s an extremely smart, steady, reliable floor general with a nice blend of vision and scoring prowess. Mann does everything at a useful rate, from defending to creating to operating without the ball, and can make an impact alongside any collection of teammates. Though already quite talented, Mann should only continue to get better and better over the coming years.