Phenom Open Gym: Carmel Christian
Coach Joe Badgett is one of the premier high school coaches in the country! Period. Point Blank. Winning and Coach Joe Badgett go hand in hand and the defending NCISAA 4A state champion has once again put together a roster that will be a favorite to repeat as state champions. And to take it a step further, put Carmel Christian in the national conversation as one of the premier teams in the country. Bold statement, yes, but one that can be backed up with Coach Joe Badgett at the helm. What he has done at Carmel Christian is simply remarkable and is underrated nationally as a basketball coach. As the old saying goes, 'The proof is in the pudding.' Now, let's take a closer look at his roster for this upcoming season.
6'6 '24 Jaeden Mustaf
The nationally ranked point guard is on another level. He has size, strength and a competitive drive that separates himself from his peers. He led his team for the 17U Adidas 3SSB Championship and took home MVP honors and is being recruited by high major schools. Kansas and Miami were in to see him at open gym. First of all, Mustaf leads by example and it all starts on the defensive end of the court. He has the power and length to overpower smaller guards yet the quickness to stay in front, not to mention the ability to keep opposing guards just on one side of the court. He's excellent in forcing offensive player to the sideline and not allowing them to turn back to the middle. Without question, Mustaf is one of the best defenders in the state regardless of class. Offensively, he is has the ability to get downhill and score at the rim. Mustaf loves defense and is custom made for Coach Joe Badgett's emphasis on defense.
6'6 '23 Bryce Cash
Not known for his shooting touch, Cash knocked down three 3-pointers in the brief open gym run. Like Mustaf, Cash excels on the defensive side of the ball. He has a chiseled frame and will challenge Mustaf as one of the premier defenders in the state. For Coach Joe Badgett, having two 6'6 strong and athletic wings that bring effort, energy and a defensive mindset will create havoc for the opposition. In addition, Cash has really improved his shooting technique and fundamentals and this will elevate his stock as an effective two-way player. If Cash can consistently knock down the perimeter shot, he will put Carmel on another level and also increase his stock with college coaches. We currently have Cash ranked no. 9 in our North Carolina 2023 rankings and feel he is undervalued and underrated with college coaches.
6'9 '24 Michael Marcus
What an addition for Carmel Christian! Marcus adds additional strength, athleticism and anchor in the paint. He can be used along side 6'10 Kaleb Siler that will be envied by college coaches. Marcus is physically strong, but still has finesse part in his game. He has the ability to step out and consistently hit the midrange and even knock down an occasional 3-pointer.
6'10 '23 Kaleb Siler
Siler continues to get better and better every outing. He has gotten more mobile in the half court and is running the court more efficiently. Siler has passer friendly hands around the rim and has the ability to go over either shoulder, not to mention a velvet soft touch in the paint. More importantly, Siler is an effective passer out of the low post and is patience with his offensive moves.
6'0 '23 Khamani Wertz
Nursing a pulled hamstring, that didn't stop Wertz from showcasing his value to this team. The southpaw has the ability to knock down 3-pointers with a high rate of accuracy and will be called upon during the course of the season to hit 'big time' shots, especially since Carmel will probably face zone or junk defenses this season. In addition, Wertz has improved immensely as a defender and has the ability to pressure the opposing player 94 feet. Wertz has 'quick rhythm' hands on defense and will also be one of the team's primary ball handlers.
6'3 '24 Boston Smith
Another elite level athlete that plays above the rim. Smith is the son of former NFL and Carolina Panthers great, Steve Smith. Smith is yet another tough, in your face defender that simply gets after it. He's a perfect complement to a roster that is filled with talent and athleticism. Look for Smith to make some jaw dropping dunks this season and be momentum turns for Carmel Christian. He's electric and brings additional excitement to an already national level team.
6'4 '25 Brett Freeman
Freeman transferred from Ardrey Kell and looked quite impressive on the offensive end of the court. He's extremely long and has solid ball handling skills along with the ability to knock down open jumpers. Once his defense catches up to his offense, Freeman will add quality depth at the guard position.