On Saturday, Phenom Hoops traveled out to High Point Christian Academy in High Point, North Carolina, as the Cougars prepared to host the Bobcats of Piedmont Classical. Both teams entered this contest with winning records (coming against quality competition) and each sought out to separate themselves from the pack. Anyone who has followed HPCA should know about the leadership of KJ Garrett, addition of Ethan Smith, and their roster full of complementary pieces. Meanwhile, Piedmont Classical has really done a great job of finding success despite a coaching change and complete roster overhaul within the last six months. The Bobcats just recently hit their stride as a balanced, well-oiled machine and looked to maintain their status against a tough Cougars squad.
Like most high school games, it took both teams a few minutes to shake the jitters and play focused, disciplined basketball. After somewhat of a sluggish first quarter where everyone gradually found their footing, Piedmont Classical held a slight 11-8 advantage. The tempo picked up in the second period, which allowed the Bobcats to continue expanding the deficit and enter halftime with a 29-22 lead. Following the break, both squads played an even third quarter (15-15), keeping the deficit at seven with a score of 44-37. Despite a late surge by the Cougars, the Bobcats’ balance in scoring, rebounding, and passing is what ultimately led to their 70-61 victory.
5’8 ’21 Lamont McNeill
Though undersized, the lead guard continues to shine as a leader whilst making clear strides within his development as a floor general. McNeill is definitely known for his scoring but has shown excellent improvements as a passer and overall playmaker. He’s quick, changes directions with ease, and forces opposing defenses to give him a ton of attention as a downhill penetrator. McNeill is great in transition, especially with the ball, and can effortlessly speed by others en route to the rim—where he’s actually proven quite capable of finishing amongst the trees. His emphasis as a rebounder and playmaker from this contest simply cannot be ignored, as it showed that he’s more than a scoring guard. Final stats: 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists.
6’2 ’22 Brent Randleman
After somewhat of a pedestrian start to the season (per his standards), Randleman has really found his comfort zone as a focal point for this group as of late. His ability to make plays and do a little bit of everything within the flow of the team brings obvious value to both sides of the ball. Randleman is long, smart, athletic, and plays with a quality motor at all times. He’s capable of defending multiple positions, scoring in a variety of ways, and establishing himself a great rebounder for his size. Randleman should continue to trend upward over the next calendar year. Final stats: 12 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal.
6’5 ’23 Julius Harrison
Arguably the most versatile two-way player for either team, Harrison only seems to get better and better with each viewing. His natural glue-guy identity and overall understanding of the game allow him to consistently fill the stat sheet without needing to force the action. Harrison easily defends multiple positions and has the combination of strength and fluidity to play inside or along the perimeter, based on need. He’s a useful athlete with a constantly improving skillset, which is quite appealing as the youngest player on this roster. Final stats: 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 assist.
Other notable contributors:
6’5 ’23 Khalif Barnes- 6 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks
6’7 ’21 Caleb Farrish- 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block
6’1 ’21 Dreshaun Brown- 4 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal
6’5 ’22 Adam Vincent- 5 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block
High Point Christian:
6’1 ’21 KJ Garrett
It should be no surprise to see Garrett as a standout for the Cougars, as it has become somewhat of a commonality at this point. He sets the tone in every possible way for this group, starting with vocal communication and leading by example on both ends of the floor. Garrett is a sharp, strong downhill penetrator with craftiness and the ability to finish around or through contact at the basket. He’s a capable perimeter shooter but consistently looks to enter the paint and make plays for himself and others. Garrett displays quality IQ and instincts, including defensively, where he’s able to overwhelm his assignment, force turnovers, and make the correct decision in transition. He remains one of North Carolina’s better unsigned seniors and should be a reliable contributor wherever he ultimately decides to further his playing career. Final stats: 20 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal.
6’7 ’22 Ethan Smith
Alongside Garrett as his primary running mate, Smith has really made a splash (no pun intended) upon his arrival and throughout his time with the Cougars. As a 6-foot-7 knockdown shooter, he was arguably exactly what this team needed. Smith is an excellent shooter off the catch, but also possesses creation skills within one to two dribbles, which allows him to spot-up or attack closeouts as needed. He possesses repeatable mechanics and terrific range on his three-point jumper. It’ll be exciting to see Smith continue to progress going forward. Final stats: 9 points, 3 assists, and 1 steal.
Other notable contributors:
6’3 ’21 PJ Underhill- 12 points and 5 rebounds
6’0 ’22 Isaiah Sanders- 10 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal
6’5 ’21 Thomas McIntosh- 5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals