Last week I made the trip to Henderson to check out Henderson Collegiate as they get ready to stake their claim in the NCHSAA 1A classification yet again this upcoming season. This group lost a few program mainstays, including Akhiris Holden and Javonte Waverly who both moved onto the next level at Cape Fear Community College and UNC Pembroke respectively. This group has the pieces to help carry the load for those that have moved on with a strong veteran core and some young guys that will be itching to contribute in bigger roles. Let’s take a look at what this group has to offer.

The Catalyst: 6’2” 2022 Todd “TJ” Ragland

Ragland will be tasked as the go to option offensively for this group. His blend of size and athleticism in the backcourt will be an absolute nightmare for 1A competition as Ragland brings a well rounded game to the table. He’s comfortable knocking down jumpers, especially off the dribble from the elbow area. He’s capable of playing either guard spot, he can catch and shoot or initiate the offense and get his guys involved. Ragland used the summer to both refine his skillset and add strength. Head Coach George Marshall said that TJ had gained around 15 pounds this summer, making him more physically ready to be that go to, 20+ PPG guy this season.

The Energy Machine: 6’5” 2022 Jarrod Small

Small brings a physically imposing presence in the front court with his strength, athleticism, and demeanor on the floor. He and Ragland will be tough to stop in the two man game as Small is great as a rim runner and dunker spot guy. He also gives this group the luxury of being capable of switching everything. He’s a good defender on the perimeter as well as the interior which allows this team to do a lot of different things defensively. The most important thing that Small will bring to the table for this team is his fearless attitude and intensity on the floor. He’s the definition of a “tone setter” and if he buys into that role college coaches will undoubtedly take notice.

The X-Factor: 6’1” 2022 Markel Lloyd

Lloyd will be a versatile backcourt piece for Henderson Collegiate this season with his ability to knock shots down from the perimeter, help run the offense, and simply be a mismatch in isolation situations with his blend of size and skill. He’s got a strong frame that he’s really worked on over the last few months, toning his body up, making him more ready to handle a major load for this team. He possesses a few go to moves in those isolation situations, almost unstoppable when he drives right and spins back left when you consider his size and touch around the rim. He’s going to have some big nights for this team from a production standpoint and they’ll need him to be a major part if this group wants sustainable success this season.

Other Key Contributors:

6’2” 2023 Ellis Williams: Williams will be another guard that will have some big games for this group. Expect him to play off the ball, provide some important spacing with his ability to hit shots as well as someone that can attack closeouts and finish at the rim and make plays in transition for himself and others. Will get better over the course of the season as his confidence grows with some big games.

6’4” 2022 Jaedon Whitaker: Another versatile defender on the floor that makes this team so difficult to match up with. Will be a double double type guy with his ability to grab rebounds, score from different spots on the floor, and just simply be in the right place at the right time.

6’3” 2023 Jhalil Fritz: Another athletic undersized front-court guy that always finds a way to flourish within the program. Will undoubtedly show flashes of what he can do this year with his energy and athleticism before taking a larger role as a senior as Jarrod Small graduates after this season.