Phenom Hoops traveled to Lincolnton to cover open gym at Combine Academy.  In only his second year at Combine, Head Coach Mike Wright has assembled talent and depth, and may be one of his most talented teams.  Last season, Combine Academy was nationally ranked and finished as a top 25 team, not to mention winning the prestigious Phenom Hoop State Championship. Combine Academy has the luxury of practicing with its post-grad program, which also has been nationally ranked.

With a roster that is talented and yet deep, look for Combine Academy to grace the national rankings as a top 25 team and will once again be looking to add another Hoop State Championship banner as the premier independent team in the state. With the overall depth of Combine Academy, we will break this report into two parts. Today, we take a look at their top returner as well as top newcomers.

Top Returner

6'5 '24 Rakease Passmore

The current 4-Star prospect is currently ranked no. 50 in the latest 247 Rankings. Passmore has always been known for his athleticism and explosiveness. He has developed a consistent perimeter game but has made tremendous strides in ball handling, overall court vision, and ability to pass off the dribble. Passmore is an elite finisher in transition where he punishes the rim with powerful and thunderous dunks. He plays with a full-throttle approach and takes personal pride in his on-ball defensive pressure. That being said, Passmore is the ultimate team player and while has the ability to dominate a game, he plays within the team structure and offensive scheme. He's a coach's dream and will be looked upon to provide senior leadership and stability to this talented team.

Top Newcomers

6'5 '24 Jahseem Felton

Felton returns home after spending his junior year at Southern California Academy and will become a very important part of Combine's overall success. Currently sporting offers from a variety of colleges like Auburn, Cincinnati,  Creighton, Georgia Tech, Kansas State,  Mississippi State, Missouri,  NC State, and TCU. Felton will bring a rock-steady presence with tight handles, not to mention the ability to get downhill utilizing his strong, physical frame, but more importantly impressed us with his high basketball IQ and ability to create for others as well as himself.

6'5 Jayan Walker

At the end of the travel ball season, Walker was one of the hottest names in the loaded North Carolina 2024 class. Sporting offers from mid-major programs such as Arkansas State, Florida International, Georgia State, Hampton, High Point, James Madison, Marshall, Middle Tennessee State, and a host of others. With a strong and muscular frame, Walker has the ability to overpower smaller guards or wings. He's a high-level scorer with excellent versatility that impressed us with his overall ball handling and passing skills from the 'point forward' position, not to mention he has an excellent feel for the game.

6'3 '24  Paul Jones

It's no secret why coach Mike Wright is so high on Jones. Jones didn't come in with some of the same hype as others, but don't be surprised if he's a constant name in the conversations as one of the main contributors to Combine's overall team success. We're talking about a quick, electric, and efficient scorer from all three levels. The southpaw has tremendous range but has the athleticism and quickness to blow by defenders. Jones has solid handles but can also apply tremendous defensive pressure on the opposing ball handler. He's an underrated prospect, but will be tested early and often to showcase his overall skillset and athleticism.

Stock on the Rise

6'7 '26 Elhadji Diallo

There's no question that 'upside and potential' go hand and hand with 6'7 '26 Elhadji Diallo. What you see now is not the finished project, but you absolutely love his long-term potential. Sporting a 7'0 wingspan and an impressive 8'10 standing reach, there's a reason why the likes of Rutgers, Mississippi State, and Wichita State have already pulled the trigger with official offers. Currently ranked no. 5 in our Phenom Hoops North Carolina 2026 ranking, it's no secret that Diallo will become a national-level prospect. We're talking about a player with a high motor, a huge wingspan, and great anticipation on the defensive end of the court. While he's still learning the game, look for Diallo's name mentioned often among the top players nationally in the 2026 rankings.

Outlook

Coach Mike Wright has a tremendous overall depth and multiple players who can step up and carry a team to victory. That being said, Combine has a very challenging schedule and will be tested early and often in the Overtime League. Combine has arrived and will be consistently mentioned as the nation's best.