On Wednesday, Phenom Hoops traveled out to Calvary Day School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for another addition of our open gym tour. Coach Joe Rybak led the Cougars to a 21-15 record last season and will return six players from their previous roster. Optimism should certainly be in the air, as this group is as talented as any group from recent memory. This article will take a closer look at their roster makeup…

6’2 ’22 James Wilkins III

Leadership has various forms within this roster but Wilkins, despite being only a junior, stands out as a veteran and primary decision-maker for this group. He’s been at Calvary throughout his high school career and it’s immediately evident in the way he carries himself and runs a team. His combination of IQ and craftiness cannot be overstated, as it really encompasses his identity as a player. While Wilkins is committed to being a floor general, his gifts as a nonstop shot-creator are too impressive to ignore. He’s efficient enough from all three levels to access and take advantage of the best possible shot on legitimately every possession. Wilkins offers an incredibly strong mix of three-pointers, midrange pull-ups, and tough finishes around the basket. He breaks down opposing guards and defenses in a very patient, intentional, methodical manner, which allows him to get wherever he wants on the floor. Wilkins’ ability to operate off the bounce and consistently hit difficult, off-balance jumpers—while still surveying for playmaking opportunities–makes him extremely capable of being a focal point within an offense. Add in his presence as a quality teammate with terrific vision and communication skills, and Wilkins should be a clear asset at the next level. 

6’0 ’22 Donovan Robinson

Although they play the same position, Robinson’s presence alongside Wilkins should be one of the more interesting wrinkles within the team. Where this would be an issue for most squads, it’s actually somewhat of a benefit for the Cougars. Robinson’s ability to successfully produce from either guard position makes things even tougher, as he can reliably run a team or score from all three levels. He’s quick, smart, and makes the right play with consistency. Robinson is at his best in the open floor when making decisions with the ball in his hands, but is more than comfortable exploiting the two-man game (both as a scorer and playmaker) and making a strong impact in the half-court setting. He’s very unselfish and displays excellent vision at all times, but especially when attacking the basket. Robinson also maintains a vocal presence and competes well defensively. His stock and production should steadily rise throughout the upcoming season. 

6’6 ’21 Zech Gibson

Though guard play will largely dominate for the Cougars, Gibson will be a major x-factor towards their overall success. In many ways, he’s the main true interior presence, mainly through his length, athleticism, and understanding of how to consistently alter shots around the basket. That being said, Gibson also regularly highlights offensive skill and the ability to space the floor with his three-point jumper. He operates with a high motor and utilizes his blend of effort and length to accumulate a lot of deflections. Gibson rebounds the ball at a strong rate and highlights great toughness on both ends of the floor. He offers nicely versatility, particularly defensively, from the forward position. Gibson has the tools to be a useful college player, especially with continued physical maturation. 

6’6 ’21 Owen Gulledge 

Given his skill and face-up ability, Gulledge offers a quality complement in the frontcourt to Gibson and the rest of this roster. He’s skilled and shoots the ball at a nice clip from the perimeter but also operates effectively out of the post or off the dribble. Gulledge plays hard and consistently battles for rebounds and extra possessions. He’s a useful athlete with the understanding to effectively pick or pop when running the two-man game. Gulledge should also have opportunities to continue his career at the next level. 

6’6 ’21 Francesco Rodella

Despite being one of the newest additions to this team, Rodella already looks quite comfortable within their structure. He’s long, wiry, and shoots the ball at a very strong rate from the perimeter. Rodella is working to transition his game towards the perimeter, but still has some interior skills and battles well for rebounds on both ends of the floor. His 

6’0 ’21 Bryson Burton

Though probably the most unassuming guy on the roster, Burton is such an incredible role player. He’s a big, stocky guard prospect with a nonstop motor and the ability to truly create havoc on both ends of the floor. Burton is a scrappy, rugged defender and committed rebounder with toughness as a finisher. He was arguably the most vocal person in the gym and approached every single drill/possession with amazing energy. Burton always does the little things and willingly makes hustle plays, which could make him an asset at the right program. 

6’4 ’21 Seth Kunkel

With so many capable creators on this team, Kunkel finds most of his opportunities through hustle and knocking down open spot-up jumpers from the perimeter. He provides nice effort as a defender and rebounder, and looks to make the extra pass whenever possible. 

6’8 ’22 David Decker

It’s easy to see the long-term appeal with Decker, who is still just beginning to scratch the surface of his long-term abilities. He has great physical tools and fluidity as an athlete, Additionally, he plays hard and shows a consistent willingness to compete defensively. 

6’1 ’22 Eli Johnson 

It’s easy to see various roles where Johnson could find minutes for this team, given his steady, low-maintenance identity on both ends of the floor. He defends well, can operate off the dribble, knocks down perimeter jumpers, and fills in the gaps effectively as a cutter. Johnson also doesn’t force the action.