By: DeAjai Dawkins

In all of the thought-provoking conversations I've had with Coach Frasier, Varsity Men's Basketball Coach at Julius L. Chambers High School, there's one in particular that I'll always find myself revisiting. I asked him a question in which I'd been searching years for a clear answer; 'what is the key to a state championship''. His answer, a reliable lead guard. In all honesty, I was shocked that I hadn't considered that as the answer beforehand. In history, a basketball team's lead guard serves as their heart, their quarterback, the one who maintains balance. In order to battle through the competitive gauntlet that is the high school state tournament, composure and balance are key to victory. With these traits in mind, it is no surprise to me that he's put forth significant development work alongside his returning All-Conference guard, Corey Gaines.'

A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Corey Gaines attends Julius L. Chambers High School (formerly known as Vance High School). He plays travel ball with Anthony Morrow Elite, and in the spring of 2021, Corey entered the April AAU period boasting an I-Meck 4A All-Conference selection alongside 2022 Daniel Sanford and 2024 Maurio Hanson. Corey is a combo guard who looks to get his teammates involved early. He operates with an impressively sound IQ, and his passing abilities have taken tremendous strides from his sophomore to junior season.'

Gaines has dedicated a notable portion of his time crafting a reliable jump shot, as he recognizes its importance as he prepares himself for college basketball. After his junior season showing, I can confidently say that Corey shoots with efficiency from all 3-levels. His left-handed release is quick and positioned in a way that allows him to catch defenders off guard with solid shot fakes. Aside from his offensive development, I believe Corey's most attractive trait to college coaches will be his reliable defensive presence. Most people underrate sub-six foot guards as it pertains to their transferability to the next level, mostly because they struggle to understand how the respective player will defend college-level size. I've watched Corey defend athletes varying in size & quickness, and one trait has never wavered. Gaines has some of the quickest hands I've seen recently, most certainly in the city of Charlotte, and that allows him to generate steals both on and off the ball.'

When I first met Corey, I initially found it difficult to identify his niche on the basketball court. I didn't know which playstyle 'label' was appropriate to associate him with. All I knew was, whether it was a scrimmage, fall-league game, regular-season game, or even a practice rep, Corey was a winner. His personality is bright, yet his demeanor is fairly calm. He's often seen in good spirits, a significant plus to have in the locker room, and he takes pride in how he presents himself to others. I believe aside from his talents on the court, his off-court intangibles would be a polished addition to a college roster. His interests outside of basketball are working out, playing video games, and listening to music.

The NBA player that we mutually agree his play style mirrors, is Mike Conley. I've spent countless hours watching state championship film from numerous states including Illinois, and I frequently speak about how impressive it was to watch Mike Conley and Greg Oden dominate high school basketball as they did. Watching Mike Conley in high school, then watching Corey Gaines now, may provide more than enough insight as to why we both offered this comparison without knowing the other's opinion. A former college player he credits is Tre Jones, also unsurprising given they have a similar approach defensively. 

Corey was very clear when speaking about his goals for the upcoming season. 'My goal for this season is definitely winning the state championship, I'd like to get my coach his first ring. I would also like to make all-conference again, achieving with my team. I would like to grab the attention of college coaches this summer while competing at a high level and leaving it all out on the floor any time I step on the court.' He understands what he's worked for and articulates exactly how he'd like to bear the fruits of his and his team's labor.'