Over 40 high school programs had the opportunity to get in some early season action as we kicked off Session I of our annual ‘Phenom High School Jamboree.’ With an abundance of talent and plenty of college coaches filling up space in our two hosted locations, Proehlific Park and Northwest Guilford High School, the day resulted in successful fashion. Assigned for coverage on Court 3 at Proehlific Park, I had several observations from the day. Specifically, seven thoughts on teams and seven standouts.
Some Team Takeaways
- Henderson Collegiate’s (Henderson, NC) energy should fuel them all season long as a team who can really benefit from their constant hustle in achieving second chance points. They don’t finish around the rim too great initially but always seem to come up with the loose ball and put two points on the board. After a slow shooting start, they quickly heated up from beyond the arc in the second half; ignited by Javonte Waverly ’21 and Kameron Brooks ’20. Turnovers and more consistency on defense both need to improve for the team to reach their full potential. Their focus looks solid most of the time but, when it lapses, the defense becomes noticeably affected.
- United Faith Christian Academy (Charlotte, NC) has a SQUAD. The Falcons’ combination of length, height, roster depth, and athleticism should again make them one to be reckoned with in Charlotte, NC. They did best in transition and finishing off straight-line drives toward the rim from the wing. With their physical tools serving as an advantage, not many jump shots were taken. I could not really get a feel for how well the team can shoot from the perimeter but it nevertheless will come into play at some point down the road.
- Making one of the longest trips, if Beckley Prep (Beckley, WV) arrived in the area looking to put on a show, they didn’t disappoint. The athletic group had an unmatched swagger and knew how to feed off one another to gain momentum that never died down. Pretty much all of the talented players can get a bucket on their own whenever desired but I respected how well they shared the ball and looked to make sure hot streaks continued for certain guys. I didn’t sense any selfishness in the least bit.
- Southern Guilford High School (Greensboro, NC) doesn’t have a lot of size, mainly operating as a guard-heavy team, but found a way to come back and win Game 4 with their competitive fire. Pretty much everybody on the roster can get to the rim effortlessly and also contribute on the rebounding end. What stuck out to me most about the Storm involved how well their guards could post up, something one doesn’t see much of, typically. They do well in moving around the perimeter to wear out opposing guards and then establish position when the opportunity appears. In all, I honestly feel their heart will make them most successful. We’ve all heard it before, “heart over height.”
- Rabun Gap played some of the best team ball throughout the day in how well they executed around the perimeter. I don’t really see any of their guys taking over a 20 ppg average this season or anything so the way they look to move the ball and find proper looks should serve them well. In addition, their imposing size makes them both difficult to defend and score on. If their front court continues to develop into a dominant presence, they’ll become match-up problems on a nightly basis.
- I really enjoyed watching Concord First Assembly in action simply based on how well they used the mid-range area to score (something that’s turning into a lost art in today’s game). The Eagles play a productive half-court game and tend to find the best look with their drive-kick offense. Very rarely do they ever settle for a poor shot selection. They equally stood out on defense with their constant communication and help-side presence. Defensive rebounding should look to improve.
- Northwood Temple (Fayetteville, NC) has great athleticism that can make them a highlight reel team on the scoring end. Still, I feel they have enough weapons to standout defensively, especially if they go into a press at certain times. Junior guard/wing, Jamahri Harvey ’20, looked outstanding when guarding the ball and lanky forward Brandon Franklin ’19 can protect the paint well at 6’10.” If their defensive intensity matches their offense, opposing teams will find themselves in for a long night.
Session I Standouts
- Ahmil Flowers ’20 – Grimsley HS (Greensboro, NC): The 6’4” guard stood out right from the very start of Game 1 on my court in how he drew shooting fouls at will. Flowers’ shiftiness and confidence with the ball proves as a main reason for this notion; he knows how to size up defenders and get them second-guessing. Along with his ball skills, he came in as one of the more athletic guards on the day. His vertical leap, solid frame, and wingspan makes him a force on the offensive glass, especially for a guard. If more confidence in his shooting emerges, I don’t see many who’ll have an answer for him.
- AJ Morris ’19 – United Faith Christian (Charlotte, NC): Morris had one of the best defensive presences during the morning as an intimidator near the rim. Playing as a 6’7” forward, he frequently threw shots into the stands and made his opponents hesitate when trying to finish near the rim. Aside from the shot blocking, he also collected the most steals for the Falcons, leading to fast break dunks. Developing a reliable go-to move(s) in his offensive arsenal will need to come along next.
- Skylar McKinney (Post Grad) – Moravian Prep (Blue): I feel like the 6’4” guard arrived with a goal to make a name for himself on the defensive end. McKinney has all of the components to become one of the better defenders in his area; he has lateral quickness, a solid wingspan, instincts, and, above all, vocal leadership. His vision and unselfishness created a number of assists for his squad and he showed a knack for scoring in spurts as well. I think he may try to pass a bit too much at times; he definitely has the size and talent to make some plays on his own. When off the ball, he showed the ability to spot up and cash in corner three-pointers.
- Jaylon Gibson ’20 – GRACE Christian School (Raleigh, NC): The Eagles’ big fella has a nice confidence in his game to go with his everlasting enthusiasm. When he gets a good look on the block, not much can prevent him from throwing it down; he had about four dunks in Game 4. Similar to Morris, he also has great timing to swat away shots and make his presence felt early in games. I especially appreciated his leadership and encouragement both on and off the court. At 6’10,” he’s in a good position to succeed as an interior player but I think he can take his game to a greater level if he finds comfort within the short corner/mid-range area. He also must stay at it in the weight room, which I’m sure won’t be an issue.
- Michael Cunningham (Post Grad) – Washington Academy: Cunningham simply knows how to put the ball in the basket. Playing as a 6’4” guard, he uses his body control and length well to make crafty finishes at the rim and can hold defenders off. His shot release looks a bit slow but he can make long-range attempts with enough space. Defensively, he had several noteworthy blocks and stripped the ball away constantly from weaker hands. His turnovers will need to decline, especially when trying to make passes to the post.
- Spencer Clark ’19 – Metrolina Christian: The Citadel has a good one coming in next season with Clark’s IQ and versatility. At 6’8,” he mainly plays inside for his team but can stretch out the floor as well when needed. His footwork especially caught my attention; it looked just as good as any other player I had a chance to watch. The touch and arc on his right hook makes it a deadly go-to move but he will need to show the same feel for his off-hand to become unpredictable. Clark doesn’t rely on his handle much but does best in driving baseline and finding others open for shots. He needs to work on his defensive focus and getting back to the other end quicker. Once he gets in a college weight lifting program… oh boy.
- Josh Nickelberry ’19 – Northwood Temple: As expected, the four-star guard went on an offensive outpour during Game 10. Nickelberry has great size and shot-creating ability to score whenever he desires, really. His change of speed keeps defenders on their heels at all times and draws attention so he can dish to open teammates. He has the potential to become a solid defender but must get out the habit of gambling. Offensively, I saw no holes; there’s honestly very little he can’t do with the ball. I see a successful career down the road for him as a Louisville Cardinal.
Guys came to compete today. Be on the lookout for next week on November 10th when we hosted Session II!