Last night, Phenom Hoops had the opportunity to watch practice at Winston-Salem Christian. In his first year at Winston-Salem Christian, Head Coach Antonio Lowe has quickly built a powerhouse and is excited about what the future holds. The Lions have a great balance of size, skill, depth and experience to compete at a very high level.
Leading things off at the guard spot is 6’4 2022 combo guard Quant’e Berry who transferred from Bradley Central (TN). For those who haven’t yet seen him play, he’s a name that everyone will become familiar with here in the Hoop State. He holds offers from Florida, Auburn, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Wichita State and Maryland. Berry is a three-level scorer who has a smooth stroke and quick release. He can really create off the bounce and has a nice midrange game. He has excellent body control in the paint, and finishes in a variety of ways around the rim. The great thing about Berry is that he’s not just a scorer. He excels in ball screen actions. He attacks ball screens with great pace, doesn’t getting sped up, and finds the open man, whether it is a throwback or a pocket pass to the screener, or he gets into the paint and kicks out to shooters. In the open floor, he always has his head up and does a great job of balling ahead to rim runners in transition.
Christ Essandoko, a 6’11 2022 center from Paris is another player who is quickly making his name known amongst college coaches. The super skilled post player holds offers from Wake Forest, Rutgers, Nebraska, New Mexico, Seton Hall, South Florida, San Diego State, Missouri State, Oral Roberts and NC A&T. For someone of that size, skillset sets him apart. In the post, he utilizes fakes, has great footwork, and is able to go over either shoulder. He’s also able to stretch the floor with the capability of knocking down the catch and shoot perimeter jumper. In addition, he has the ability to put it on the deck. He made a big time, between the legs crossover from the left wing, drove it and finished with a reverse layup. Also, possibly his greatest attribute is his passing ability. He is extremely unselfish, finds cutters and makes skip out passes to shooters.
Another new face to North Carolina is 6’7 2021 wing Daniel Nixon who in originally from New York and transferred in from The Hill School in Pennsylvania. His experience will prove valuable for this team. Nixon is a strong, physical wing who is able to get downhill and finish at the rim at a high level. He also showcased the ability to knock down the perimeter shot. He has the versatility to do many things on both ends of the floor. He is another talented newcomer with offers from Georgetown, Cincinnati, Wake Forest, Iowa, East Carolina, Ole Miss, Tulsa, Wichita State, and Seton Hall.
After looking at several new faces to the Hoop State, we’ll go in depth with those who people will be more familiar with here in North Carolina. Brandon White is another high level prospect at the post position. The 6’10 2022 center has all the physical tools to be successful at the next level. He is long, athletic, and is active on the glass. He has continued to show growth in his skillset over the last year. White has worked to expand his low post scoring ability and has nice touch from the midrange. He currently holds offers from Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, ECU, South Florida and Western Kentucky.
Iona commit Jordan Wildy will provide additional experience to this team. Wildy followed Coach Lowe from Moravian Prep where they played a national level schedule. The 6’9 forward is extremely long and active. He has the ability to step out and make the catch and shoot perimeter shot. Also, he is able to use his athleticism in the open court, sprinting to the rim, and attacking the basket off the bounce. He is extremely active on the glass. In addition, his versatility on the defensive end will be valuable. He is capable of guarding several different positions on the court given his length and athleticism.
6’4 2022 Christian Cornish is another guard who will contribute significantly. He is one of the strongest guards, if not the strongest, in the area. He excels when attacking the basket. He utilizes his strength when finishing through contact. As a guard, he rebounds well on both ends of the floor. He crashes the offensive glass hard, giving his team second chance opportunities. On the defensive end, he is an active on-ball defender and plays the passing lanes well.
6’7 2021 Tavis Bridges is another player who will provide valuable experience and depth in the post. The long, athletic post utilizes his quickness in the post to attack bigger, stronger defenders. He has exceptional touch and skill around the basket, and can also step out and make the midrange shot with consistency.
6’3 2022 RaSean McMiller is another out of state player. McMiller comes to Winston-Salem Christian from Chicago. He is a scrappy, athletic guard who can shoot the midrange and get to the rim as well. He uses his strength and athleticism to get to the basket and finish through contact. McMiller is making the most of this opportunity, as his coaches all described him as a gym rat.
The Lions have two young prospects who will contribute and have bright futures. 6’7 2024 Brayden Crump is one of the best freshmen in the state. For his age, his combination of size and skill makes him special. Crump has been expanding his game to play more along the perimeter. He is handling the ball and shooting it from the perimeter with consistency. One play really stuck out as he shot faked, drove by his defender and hit the baseline floater. He has a really high basketball IQ. He moves well without the ball and is a really good cutter. The freshman already holds an offer from Texas A&M.
Ashton King, is a 6’2 2025 guard that will soon make his presence known throughout the state. The 8th grader doesn’t look or play like an 8th grader. He has a strong frame and can shoot it with deep range. He plays with extreme confidence and doesn’t just fit in, but stands out. It will fun to follow his progression for years to come.
Lastly, although 6’3 2022 guard Amare Haynie is out this season due to injury, he will provide leadership to this new team. Haynie is another player who followed Coach Lowe to Winston-Salem Christian. He knows what coach wants and will be able to help cultivate that winning culture. In speaking with Haynie, he will use this season as an opportunity to learn the game at a higher level from watching and expand his leadership abilities.
In closing, Winston-Salem Christian has the pieces to be a special team this season. The future is bright for the Lions. Head Coach Antonio Lowe will do a great job in building a high level program. He stressed to his team the importance of being disciplined. During practice he told his team, “If you’re disciplined off the court, then you will be disciplined on the court.” This discipline will help them compete for championships for years to come.