On Monday, Phenom Hoops travelled to Pittsboro, North Carolina to watch practice at Northwood High School. In his fourth season, Head Coach Matt Brown has quickly built a state contender. In his second season as head coach, the Chargers finished 19-10 in the 2018-2019 season with a trip to the 3A State Sweet Sixteen. Last season, Northwood won their conference with an overall record of 27-3 and made the 3A State Semifinals.
Before diving into some of the players, I want to emphasize how incredibly well-ran was the practice. Coach Brown has spent time coaching at the collegiate level at Stanford, Charlotte, and Pfeiffer. Coach Brown runs a college level practice. Everything is done with purpose and he flows from one drill to the next with precision. One thing that really stuck out to me was how he utilizes film to help teach the players. He had a couple clips to show each individual player before practice as a way to help teach them. Players are able to pick up on a lot when they are actually able to see themselves doing or not doing something.
After losing eight major contributors off of a 27-3 team, the Chargers will have to rely on their youth. They have three freshmen that have a chance to be special in Drake Powell, Jarin Stevenson, and Fred Whitaker. They also have a sophomore in Kenan Parrish that has size and potential.
Drake Powell 6’5 2024
Drake Powell is a long, athletic, versatile guard prospect. For someone with his length and athleticism, he handles the ball well. He will be relied on to help with some of the ball handling responsibilities. There were times during practice where he had to run the point, and it was something that he looked comfortable doing. He showed poise both initiating the offense and getting others involved. He is a willing passer. He really excels in the open court where he can utilize his athleticism and attack the basket. For a freshman, he plays under control. There was one play in transition that really stuck out to me. He stole the ball and it was a one-on-one break. The defender tried to take a charge, but Powell played off two feet and knocked down the floater under control. Many players would charge into their opponent or try a euro-step and either turn the ball over or miss the shot. What impressed me the most, wasn’t his talent, but was his willingness to learn and ask questions. He is coachable and wants to get better. Not many players want to be the one to ask questions in front of the entire group of their peers, but Powell does. That eagerness to learn and want to become the best he can be will help him in the future.
Jarin Stevenson 6’8 2024
Jarin Stevenson is another young prospect who will soon start receiving college interest. The 6’8 freshman has tremendous size and athleticism to go along with his skill. His skill level is what sets him apart. He has the ability to handle the basketball and create off of the bounce. Once he had the ball on the right wing, broke his defender down, drove it right, and finished with a floater off the glass. He can shoot the perimeter jumper with consistency in pick and pop situations. What impressed me the most was his ability to use either hand in the post. He was comfortable turning over either shoulder and using both his right and left hand for hook shots. This is something that a lot of college players are unable to do, and he is already doing it at a young age.
Fred Whitaker 5’8 2024
Fred Whitaker will lead the Chargers at the point guard position. Whitaker is a quick, shifty guard who gets into the paint and does a good job of finding the open teammate. He changes pace well and can finish at the basket. He was most impressive in ball screen situations. He puts pressure on the defenders because he’s able to reject ball screens and get to his spots. But more importantly, he makes good reads on those ball screens. He draws two defenders and makes the throwback pass to the screener popping for the pick and pop jumper. Defensively, he does a good job of pressuring opposing ball handlers. He will set the tone on both ends of the floor.
Kenan Parrish 6’10 2023
Kenan Parrish has only been playing basketball for two years, but is an intriguing prospect. He wears a size 20 shoe, so one would imagine he is not doing growing. For someone of his size and relative newness to the game, he showed nice touch around the basket. He was comfortable going over either shoulder and finishing with both right and left-handed hook shots. Parrish is a sponge when it comes to learning. His willingness to be coached and desire to learn will help him go a long way.