With the summer season behind us, there’s no better time to reexamine all the high school classes. The Class of 2022 will be entering their sophomore season and has an abundance of uncovered talent. This summer has given Phenom Hoops a chance to get a closer look at some prospects that we feel are underrated and have the chance to breakout this season. This article will take a deeper look at some of those guys…
6’6 Elijah Gray (Carmel Christian/Team Synergy)
At this point, it honestly feels like Gray might be the most underrated prospect in North Carolina’s entire class. He possesses all the tools necessary to become a dominant two-way force, both physically and in terms of skill/versatility. Gray already has the size to operate around the basket, but also displays a high comfort level along the perimeter—where he’s proven to be a quality shooter and ball-handler. When he’s playing with something to prove, Gray is incredibly tough to contain. His motor and overall consistency has noticeably improved over the summer, but will have to continue developing to reach his long-term ceiling. Gray will be one to watch, as he could turn into a major contributor as soon as this season.
6’5 Avion Pinner (Riverside-Martin/Garner Road)
From a versatility standpoint, no player on this list is more intriguing than Pinner. He’s a long, fluid athlete with IQ and a tremendous amount of skill for his size/position. Pinner has an all-around offensive skillset with no real weaknesses on either end of the floor. Right now, it’s all about getting repetitions and working to seize his opportunity during the upcoming year. Pinner rebounds, pushes the break, makes intelligent decisions as a creator/playmaker, and can score the ball efficiently from anywhere on the court. It feels like he’s going to burst onto the scene this season and separate himself as one of the top tier prospects within North Carolina.
6’2 Manny Elliott (Dudley/Greensboro Warriors)
Everyone on this list is a basketball player only, except Elliott, who is a star football prospect that also happens to be quite talented on the hardwood. He’s an intense, electric guard prospect with phenomenal creation skills and the ability to legitimately fill it up from all three levels with relative ease. Elliott is a sneaky athlete that welcomes physical play and willingly meets opponents at the rim for dunks or blocks. He’s a reliable rebounder that pushes the break in transition and displays nice vision, especially for someone that is more of a scorer. With Dudley losing guys like Tyler Young and Isaiah Ray, Elliott should be able to quickly carve out a role as one of the better two-way prospects on this roster.
6’1 James Wilkins (Calvary Day/PSB)
There’s a lot to be excited about with the young, new-look Calvary Day squad, especially behind the play and two-way leadership of Wilkins. With star-guard Jackson Gammons headed to Citadel, Wilkins will have the keys to the car. He can be somewhat unassuming at first glance, but Wilkins is an absolute gamer with a ton of craftiness and the ability to dictate the offensive action with poise and maturity. His blend of scoring and playmaking is basically ideal for a modern-day floor general, considering he primarily looks to set up others but can assert himself and take advantage as needed. Wilkins has an excellent skillset, but also has the defensive motor to set the tone for this Calvary Day team throughout the upcoming season.
6’11 Christian Reeves (Cannon/Team CP3)
The ascension of Reeves has been quite interesting. We saw him last year in Spartanburg playing up with the Charlotte Nets and nobody around North Carolina really seemed to know who he was. At this point, Reeves should be turning into a household name, as he’s going to be an absolute star. His instincts, particularly on defense, and athletic fluidity at such a young age are almost unparalleled. Sure, Reeves needs to add some strength and continue to refine his offensive skillset, but there’s certainly something special here. He runs the floor like a gazelle, possesses touch with either hand, and rebounds/protects the rim at a very respectable rate at this stage in his development. Reeves should ultimately end up as one of the top five players in this class, especially if he continues on his current trajectory.