This is one of our favorite times of the year, traveling across the region to various Open Gyms, it means the basketball season is just around the corner. We join college coaches from across the country, in scouring our region to find players. Some gyms we walk in have 10+ coaches sitting, watching the practice, other gyms with no one (those are the favorite gyms!).

It’s also great to recount all of the coaches who recruit in this region. Coaches from all over shared the baselines with us this week, and we are certain that more will be out in the coming weeks as they read our college reports and our on line synapses.

Here is the week in review, for Week 1 of Phenom’s Open Gym Tour…

Schools Visited:

Hargrave Military (Chatham, Va), New Hanover (Wilmington, NC), Cape Fear Academy (Wilmington, NC), Pender (Burgaw, NC), Greenfield (Wilson, NC), Farmville Central (Farmville, NC), Burlington School (Burlington, NC), Holly Springs (Holly Springs, NC) and GRACE Christian (Cary, NC).

Colleges in These Gyms:
BYU, Brown, Texas Tech, Elon, Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington, Winthrop, Navy, Charleston Southern, NC State, Minnesota, George Washington, Hamden Sydney, George Mason, Ohio, Jacksonville State, Marshall, Lipscomb and SMU

Major Storylines

Defending State Champions
Although Greenfield School and Farmville Central sit only 20 minutes apart, door to door, the two programs have never played one another. Last season Greenfield had the best season in school history finishing 33-4 and another state championship ' Farmville Central also won a state championship, finishing 32-0. Only 20 minutes apart lie two of the most storied programs in North Carolina, over the past 20 years. When they play one another this year, it will be one of North Carolinas Must Watch Games.

Coaches Need to Visit Wilmington
Cape Fear Academy has a gym filled with college prospects. Seniors to Freshmen, Mid Majors to D3s, there is something for everyone (see more below). Pender High School the same. Jajuan Carr is the best pure PG in NCs 2020 class, and he has the look of a killer on the floor. If that switch has turned, Eastern North Carolina, and North Carolina as a whole, is in for a rude awakening. New Hanover’s 2022 class is absolutely loaded and Hoggard and Ashley have great coaches who will maximize the talent in the program. Even though he’s committed, Jadyn Parker at West Brunswick’s recruitment never took off like it should. The beach has talent, and college coaches from all over need to take note of this.

2020 PGs

6’2″ Emmanuel Bonsu (Cape Fear Academy) – even within our own organization, we had Bonsu vastly underrated. What is not to like about a chiseled from stone, paint touch, lead guard, who had elbow above the rim athleticism and great pace/IQ. This Montreal native has all that, to go along with grades. Most nights, he is the fastest, strongest and highest IQ player on the floor. American is currently his only offer, but schools from around this region need to stop by and take a look.

6′ KD Johnson (Hargrave) – toughness is the name of the game for Johnson, he just exudes toughness in every aspect of how he plays. A natural leader, people seem to flock to him, however he is also not afraid to hold you accountable. He shot the ball well and is an above the rim athlete. A lot of winning traits at the high level here, similarities to Kevin Dorsey (Paul VI/Minnesota) of a few years back.

6’1″ Jajuan Carr (Pender) – this was a new look Jajuan, a new haircut, a little more cut and a vocal leader. He was aggressive, bullying his defender as he touched the paint, but also going 9-10 from 3. Carr is crafty and explosive, he has excellent vision with a ridiculously high IQ, but in this setting, he played in takeover mode. As we said to him, Jajuan Carr is unstoppable when he puts on his cape.

6′ Marcus Elliott (Holly Springs) – Elliott is a lefty, naturally everything they do looks smoother. On top of that, he has that ball on a string handle, with the confidence to make you look silly at times. Elliott is a smooth shooter and able to get where he wants on the floor. He is someone who played on the biggest stage this Summer with Garner Road and performed. A lot to like here.

6′ Justin Wright (Farmville Central) – for all the stat-heads out there, over the last two seasons, Wright has gone 54-4 as the starting point guard, he has averaged over 20 points per game and shot over 42% from 3 in those seasons. He is the only player in Farmville Central history to start every single game starting from game 1 in ninth grade. Wright has an infectious personality on the floor, but gets straight into KILL mode on the floor. He competes, he wins and he puts up stats and a ridiculously efficient clip. Nothing to not like here.

2020 Bigs

6’8″ Georges Lefevbre (Cape Fear Christian) – he is a rim running big, who gets up and down the floor, gets in the passing lanes, moves his feet on defense and blocks/alters shots. While his offensive game is still developing, in two games here, he knocked down 3 3s (games were to 5). What also really stood out here is his leadership. He is the captain of the team, he did a great job of motivating as well as holding accountable. Oakland, Vermont, etc.. have offered, should have coaches by everyday to watch.

6’6″ Kaleb Scott (Holly Springs) – Scott is a physically imposing player, with huge hands, long arms and broad shoulders. Already with a strong frame, he is the type who will just pop once he gets into a college weight program. Scott showed off an improved 3-point shot off the catch, to go along with some ferocious dunks (tries to tear the rim off every chance) and great footwork. He is expanding out to 15 feet with pick and pop ability from 3. Charlotte and Elon were in, Scott has 12 offers in hand.

6’9″ Mylyjael Poteat,(Burlington School) – perhaps the most improved player in North Carolina, Poteat has an unstoppable force in this setting. The high academic post player, has high level hands and footwork on the block. But now that he’s dropped 20 pounds over the last couple months, he able to drop step and dunk on your head. He has range beyond the 3-point arc and he had a game last year with 32 rebounds. While Poteat has 15 offers in hand, schools should be taking a much more rigorous approach in landing him, he will get a major bump in our rankings, next go around ' and his best basketball is ahead of him as he continues to reshape his body.

The Youth

5’10” 2022 Dee Barnett (New Hanover) – Barnett has feel, that is the best and most simple way to describe how he plays. An effortless shooter with a smooth handle, Barnett is not overly quick (but he always gets his to his spots) or explosive athletic (always seems to finish at the rim) but his feel for the game is next level. He will be given the keys to this New Hanover team this year, and will most likely lead them in scoring. Exciting couple of years to come for him, watch closely.

6’8″ 2021 Keeyan Itejere (GRACE Christian) – He is 6’8″ with a 7+” wingspan, a size 17 shoe and he runs like a gazelle. Itejere is just coming into his own as a player, and gracious he has some stuff to him. A year or so ago, Itejere looked uncoordinated as he ran and moved, now he is going up to dunk on 6’11” Wake Forest commit Jaylon Gibson in practice. He is still learning the game, but make no mistake, once he grows into his body, this one has a chance to be a force to be reckoned with.

7′ 2021 Gabe Wiznitzer (Hargrave) – Wiznitzer has a pretty complete arsenal on the offensive end of the floor. He shoots the 3-ball with 40% like consistency, he has go-to’s and counter’s on the block, he can pick/pop or put it on the floor. He is very skilled offensively. Wiznitzer is also a high academic kid, with Ivy League type grades. He should be considered (and recruited like) a Top 100 type of talent in the 2021 class, not many footers, possesses this type of offensive arsenal.

6’4″ 2024 Hampton Evans (Greenfield) – Yes, you read that correctly, Evans is a current 8th grader. However, this does not diminish the fact he will be a heavy contributor for the defending state champions (possibly the first player off the bench type roll). On this day, he was the best player in the gym, and it wasn’t close. Evans is a do-it-all wing-type who can shoot it, create off the bounce, grab boards and sees the floor. Should be tracking as one of the best in NCs 2024 class (self admittedly, we haven’t seen them all yet) and it will be fun to continue watching him grow.