Yesterday we took the drive down 95 to hit up Fayetteville, NC, always a hotbed for talent, that you can most of the time find under the radar. On this day, we made stops at Freedom Christian and Northwood Temple.
It was an interesting day, both teams have entirely revamped rosters, filled with new kids. Northwood Temple built their roster with local Fayetteville kids while Freedom has a slew of kids from overseas. Although different, both rosters are incredibly talented none the less.
Last year was Northwood Temple Head Coach James Strong’s first year at the school, he led the team all the way to the state championship game, behind the play of Louisville freshman Josh Nickelberry. This will be Freedom Christian Head Coach Brandon Clifford’s first year at the school. After losing 9 players off last year’s team, it looks like they have reloaded.
Here is a look at what we saw…
They will be led by 6’9″ 2020 Aymeric Toussaint, a French National who is in his fourth year in the United States. Toussaint had some dominating moments in the open gym, pushing the break, finishing in a controlled manner around the basket and even dunking on some kids. He has an entire tool kit and this may be his year he takes off. All the tools. Equally as impressive in this setting was 6’5″ 2021 Jayden Doyle, a transfer from Tennessee. Doyle is everything you want in a shooting guard, long, athletic, can shoot it, can create for himself or he can score it off the catch.
Looking at a host of the newcomers it would be hard for 6’8″ 2022 Kirill Filimonov to not catch your eye immediately. The Russian sharpshooter has a very confident approach to the game and will launch it from anywhere on the floor, off the bounce or the catch. Still learning the game, there is a lot to like here as he made much more than he missed on this day. 6’7″ 2020 Fuet Farisogla played for the Fenderbosch club team before coming over from Turkey. He is the tough guy down low but has some skill with the ball in his hands. Bosko Mihailovic is a do it all type of point guard. The 6’3″ Serbian played for the top Serbian club Partizan, and it shows with his ability to really see the floor and shoot the ball, with great size.
All that said, it is 6′ 2020 Manny Alverado’s team. The Costa Rican will be the heart and soul of what goes on here. He can absolutely fill it up, as he went for 30 or more multiple times last season. All in all, this is a team that has a ton of talent, but also a great coach. College coaches should come flocking, but also team should be worried late in the season, even though they speak 8 different native tongues, this team could gel and that will be scary.
Northwood Temple made a run all the way to the state championship game. They lost their top 1-2 punch as Josh Nickelberry is now at Louisville and Jamahri Harvey aged out of NCISAA ball and is now at Moravian Prep. However, this team has reloaded.
Let’s start with 6’6″ 2020 Reggie Raynor, who has made his name as a powerful, tough, high-flying forward. Well, he has added ball skills and range to his arsenal over the last year and has the look of a mid-level wing. He should be in line for a memorable senior season.
The backcourt wing duo of 5’11 2022 Jaquante Harris and 6’3″ 2020 Jay Hickman play fun, complimentary, yet contrasting styles. Harris is an aggressive downhill driver, who straps for 94′ on defense and will put it on your head on offense. While Hickman is a long-range bomber, who can get to his spots off 1 and 2 dribbles and has a long projectable frame for the next level.
2021 point guard Manny Sepulvuda is a wizard with the ball, quick as a hiccup with eyes in the back of his head, oh and he straps on defense. 2021 Yohann Axel is a matchup nightmare at the forward position. The 6’5″ bully can put the ball on the floor or finish above the rim.
This team has a very talented, very capable of starting 5. All 5 of which should not have to pay to go to college. There are some size and some depth on this team as well. They may not have the star power of last year’s team, but this 2019-20 version of Northwood Temple will have incredible chemistry and they will absolutely defend.