On Friday, Phenom Hoops traveled out to Caldwell Academy to get a closer look at the new-look Eagles. Entering his second year as their head coach, Brandon Clifford certainly has one of the more underrated teams in North Carolina. Between his experience, talented roster, and roots firmly planted in Greensboro, folks should have a ton of optimism about the current and future state of this program. The recent transfer of a noteworthy prospect sparked intrigue; however, this entire roster seems likely exceed any expectations. Let’s take a closer look…

6’4 ’25 Jaylen Cross

Let’s reiterate: Jaylen Cross is special. This setting allowed him to showcase IQ, leadership, and the full offensive arsenal. He’s a natural tone-setter whose energy and general engagement inspires teammates to compete harder than normal on both ends of the floor. During the scrimmage, Cross was undeniably the best player on the court. He applied constant downhill pressure, hit jumpers at a high percentage, and made excellent decisions with the ball in his hands. Cross mixed it up at a healthy rate, but still consistently took what the defense was giving him. He also continues to make strides as a ball-handler and three-point shooter, and is comfortable operating as a point guard or off-guard. It’s easy to be enticed by his blend of size, polish, and athleticism, especially since he knows how to actually use each trait. Cross highlighted a complete game and his fun, competitive, free-flowing approach clearly trickles throughout the rest of this roster. He’s a great defender with sharp instincts and terrific transition ability. Add in his extensive list of positive intangibles, and betting on his upside seems like a no-brainer. Just a sophomore, Cross has a legitimate case as the top prospect in the city. All types of Division I coaches should be looking to get involved. 

6’4 ’26 Neal Swindell

The gym was full of improved names, and Neal Swindell has arguably progressed as much as anyone within the area over the last few months. He’s a big, strong-bodied wing prospect with a quality combination of skill and athleticism. Swindell has become a phenomenal shooting threat while maintaining his abilities as a penetrator, finisher, and defender. He utilizes his body well and rebounds his position effectively on both ends of the floor. Swindell has a fairly well-rounded identity, and will only continue to develop over the coming years. Though young, he has all the tools to become one of the top players in North Carolina’s Class of 2026.

6’4 ’24 J3 Swindell

Given his status as one of the main veterans on the roster, J3 Swindell is extremely likely to enjoy a very productive junior campaign. He’s strong, sturdy, and pretty versatile as an all-around offensive threat. Swindell possesses deep range and plenty of perimeter skill, but also offers a useful interior presence and willingness to adjust his approach based on matchup. If given a smaller opponent, he will use his strength, long arms, and physical nature to absolutely bully them around the basket. Along the perimeter, Swindell is fluid and skilled enough to overwhelm bigger defenders. He can reliably rebound, post-up, and fill in the gaps offensively. Expect him to warrant attention from college coaches going forward. 

5’8 ’26 Ayden Johnson

Although everyone listed will contribute for the Eagles, Ayden Johnson might be the biggest x-factor on the entire team. He’s slightly undersized but has a dynamic identity as a blossoming floor general. Johnson is smart, quick, and shifty, which allows him to effortlessly breakdown opponents and touch the paint at a high volume. He scored the ball from all levels, but also showcased improved feel as a playmaker. Johnson is a pesky defender and forces turnovers at a nice rate. He will be a major difference-maker this season and beyond. 

6’3 ’24 Zackary Goodman

Similar to the entry above, Zack Goodman is a guy who can change the course of a game for this group. He’s a long, athletic shot-maker with defensive tools and the capability of filling it up offensively. Goodman scores the ball from all levels, but has visibly improved his shot-selection and general understanding of how to assert himself within the flow of the action. 

6’5 ’24 DJ Workman

After finding success in various different roles over the years, DJ Workman should be a quality addition for this squad. He’s strong, tough, and able to play around the basket or along the perimeter. Workman makes his presence felt on the glass, fills in the gaps on offense, and contains his assignment well on defense. 

6’5 ’23 Davis Raley

Basically the main interior piece on this roster, Davis Raley should be a very purposeful role player during the upcoming season. He plays hard, doesn’t force the action, and willingly makes hustle plays on both ends of the floor. Raley rebounds, alters shots, and finishes as needed. 

6’2 ’23 Ty Spohn
There are a lot of clearly defined roles on this team, but Ty Spohn operates as somewhat of a glue-guy. He’s a smart, unselfish, and shoots the ball at a high percentage from the perimeter. Spohn makes hustle plays and shows a willingness to do the little things whenever possible. He will be another valuable piece to the success of this group.