Aside from the highest level of basketball, the concept of assembling a balanced core grouping of players seems to be more advantageous than building around a “star” or two. Again, the theory of accumulating as many stars as possible is clearly the best method to succeed in the NBA. That being said, folks should definitely be intrigued by Coach Johnnie Richardson and his blueprint over at Piedmont Classical—since he arguably has one of the more underrated squads in the state. But how did we get to this point? Let’s look…

After being named head coach prior to the start of the 2020-2021 season, Richardson had to deal with a ton of incoming and outgoing player movement. After Jamarii Thomas transferred, Amare Miller suffered a season-ending injury, and guys like Evan Joyner, Trent McIntyre, Jalen Joiner, and Qualeem Poindexter all graduated or moved onto the next level, things were looking bleak. However, despite losing six incredibly vital pieces, Richardson was still prepared to build around quality returning pieces in Dreshaun Brown, Julius Harrison, Caleb Farrish, and Adam Vincent. He then added Jondale Stanley, Lamont McNeill, Kahlif Barnes, Brent Randleman, and Juwelz Hargrove to only further solidify their status as a competitive, noteworthy squad. The season ensued, each senior within the rotation received next-level opportunities, and the squad found great success en route to a 21-8 record. So, what about the remaining pieces?

Well, it’s pretty easy to envision Randleman maintaining his role as a major leader—especially given his summer production and how strong he concluded last season with the Bobcats. He should have the ball in his hands a lot and will likely be tasked with dictating majority of their offensive action. Randleman has developed confidence and gotten even stronger over the last twelve months, which makes him even tougher for opponents to contain. Add in his IQ, athleticism, and ability to score in various ways from all levels, and he should already hold a lot of offers. Randleman also provides vision, defensive instincts, and clear toughness on both ends of the floor. His backcourt mate, Stanley, provides an excellent complement and useful presence given their overall team structure. He’s a crafty, shot-making guard with the ability to initiate the offense or apply pressure as an all-around scorer. Stanley is great in transition but also stands out as a reliable midrange and three-point shooter. He displays vision, quickness, and grittiness, which allows him to matchup effectively with all types of opposing guards. Considering the amount of time this duo will handle the ball, expect them to be obvious x-factors over the next calendar year. 

Other than the aforementioned duo, Vincent is the only remaining senior prospect within the core group of their rotation. It should be fairly obvious, but the long, wiry, perimeter threat with size differs greatly from everyone else on this roster—both in terms of identity and overall pathway to this point. After averaging nearly 25 PPG as a true freshman, Vincent relocated to Piedmont Classical and basically hit the reset button in the process. Upon arriving to his new program, Vincent had to build up his body, toughness, and overall confidence in order to find opportunities. He took the necessary measures, made clear strides within his game, and now stands out as a major cog for this group. Not only is he their most consistent three-point shooter, but Vincent also possesses surprising bounce and will meet opponents at the rim. He should also be a useful next-level addition. 

Rounding out their rotation, guys like Barnes and Harrison are what make this team somewhat unique. If anyone needed to validate the correlation between playing hard and on-court success, they should simply watch Barnes for a few minutes. We’ve already covered it thoroughly, but his motor, athleticism, and incredible rebounding sense truly makes him a nightmare for opponents. He’s just relentless on the glass, and possesses the necessary urgency on his second and third bounce to spring up for multiple rebounding chances while others are still on their first attempt. Barnes is a low-maintenance offensive player with an understanding of positioning and how to thrive off of drop-off passes and transition play. Meanwhile, Harrison is arguably the most intriguing prospect throughout the entire roster. At a long, fluid 6-foot-6, he’s extremely versatile and naturally affects all facets of the game on either side of the ball. Harrison is overqualified to be a glue-guy but doesn’t have a pressing need to control the offense on every single possession, which leads to consistently reliable production in every possible setting. He displays defensive instincts, quality inside-out skills, and a high motor. Harrison can operate within multiple different roles on both ends of the floor, and clearly contributes to success in every possible way for this group. Since both of these guys are in the Class of 2023, folks should expect to see definite boosts to their respective recruitments going forward.