On Tuesday, Phenom Hoops traveled to Piedmont Classical in the heart of Greensboro, North Carolina for a special double-header showcase. The second contest gave us an opportunity to see some of the top prospects in the state between two talent-laden teams in Piedmont Classical and Winston-Salem Christian. Piedmont Classical has been quietly going about their business and securing wins while Winston-Salem Christian has been firmly in the spotlight since Antonio Lowe made the move. The gym was empty due to Covid restrictions, but these two teams still made for some enjoyable basketball.
Things kicked off and it was immediately apparent that both teams were ready to compete. The tempo and overall focus proved to be out of control for the opening minutes, but began to settle down and turn into a legitimate basketball game. After a Daniel Nixon three-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer, Winston-Salem Christian led 15-9 going into the second period of play. The second quarter led to more of the same, as the Bobcats matched their first quarter scoring output while the Lions continued to extend their lead. After trailing 35-18 at halftime, Piedmont Classical starting turning things around and actually won the third quarter. However, the Lions of Winston-Salem Christian proved to be too much for Piedmont Classical and took this contest by a score of 69-49.
5’9 ’22 Jairus Northam
There are so many attractive pieces on this roster that folks can forget just how valuable Northam is to this group. For starters, he’s their primary ball-handler and most capable “true” point guard option. Northam is somewhat undersized but makes up for his lack of height with incredible quickness, toughness, and defensive prowess. He’s a great athlete, but it likely goes under the radar because he’s built like a cornerback rather than a seven-footer. Northam was consistently overwhelming at the point of attack and when playing passing lanes, forcing turnovers at will and frequently setting up others as a playmaker. Final stats: 4 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 steals.
6’4 ’22 Christian Cornish
Like Northam, Cornish finds ways to make plays and contribute despite not being tasked to operate as a leading scorer or offensive focal point. Anyone with eyes can see that Cornish is an absolute physical specimen with great size, ridiculous strength, and noteworthy explosiveness. That being said, he finds majority of his opportunities as a hard-nosed defender and utility player with an understanding of how to effectively fill in the gaps on both ends of the floor. Cornish is a capable scorer and highlights useful skill within his game, but genuinely thrives at doing the little things. Final stats: 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.
The Big Man Rotation
While it might seem like an easy way out to list the entire rotation, but they each played equal parts in the success of this group. 6’8 ’21 Jordan Wildy played within himself, made defensive plays, and scored as needed, but still looked prepared to become a useful contributor at Iona. 6’8 ’21 Tavis Bridges embraces his role as well as anyone on the team; he comes in, provides great hustle, and understands how to make plays within the flow of the team. 6’10 ’22 Brandon White has obvious appeal with his physique and athleticism; he rebounds, blocks shots, and moves very well for his size. 6’11 ’22 Christ Essandoko has all the tools to be a special player but is still figuring things out; he possesses great skill and footwork but should become truly dominant upon slowing down and improving his ability to read and react. Final stats (Wildy): 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. Final stats (Bridges): 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist. Final stats (White): 8 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block. Final stats (Essandoko): 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
6’7 ’21 Caleb Farrish
While there are many capable scorers on this roster, Farrish was arguably their most impressive performer through his ability to do the little things. He possesses touch and spaces the floor at a reliable rate from the perimeter, but really shined with his rebounding, toughness, and defensive abilities in this contest. Keep in mind, Farrish is giving up size and strength to each of the opposing big men and more than held his own. He utilized a quality blend of IQ, length, and positioning to work smarter rather than harder in regards to altering shots. Farrish should continue gaining traction with next-level coaches. Final stats: 5 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block.
6’1 ’21 Dreshaun Brown
Although multiple standouts arose throughout this game, Brown was easily among their top backcourt performers. He’s strong, tough, and athletic, which goes perfectly with his great downhill sense and scoring abilities from inside the arc. Brown is also a rugged defender and capable rebounder with quality instincts in transition. Like Farrish, he should continue gaining traction over the current season. Final stats: 10 points and 3 steals.