By; Julia Funderburk
The live period was a success not only for the players, but also for the numerous college coaches and scouts in attendance who are eager to find their next stars. Offers were awarded, interest was given, and lasting impressions were made. While this live period mostly showcased players from the class of 2020, rising seniors who are rearing to make their names known in the recruiting world before the high school season officially begins, the four-day period also included young and talented 15u and 16u teams that were looking for experience and hoping to draw some interest themselves. This Phenom event, like all others, saw players of different caliber. Some have multiple D1 offers, some have interest from D2 and D3 schools, and some are unsigned seniors that are exhausting every opportunity to play at the next level.
On an eventful and hectic weekend, here are some teams that were particularly noticeable throughout:
Upward Stars Columbia 17U—Upward Stars Columbia was the team to watch this weekend. They were absolutely dominant, firing on all cylinders. A huge advantage for these guys is that multiple players can score; because of this, they share the ball and make themselves un-guardable. All weekend, the Upward Stars were a defensive test for others and pushed until the buzzer sounded. Their overall record from the event doesn’t dictate what this team can do; each loss was within single digits. Notable performances by Harold Johnson Jr. (6’4, c/o 2020) and Ty Turner (6’0, c/o 2020) help commend the team as one of the best of the event.
Fayetteville Spurs— The Fayetteville Spurs were only limited in the depth of their roster this weekend. What they lack in way of a bench, they make up for in toughness and hustle. In each game they played, they did not give up once. Led by Alijah Miles (5’10, c/o 2020), their offense is elite and their defense is high energy. Playing 32 minutes of basketball with such speed and grit on an extremely limited rotation is hard to do but they did it well this weekend and earned respect from their opponents.
WBC Elite— WBC Elite has been consistently climbing the ladder to become a top competitor in recent events. With big-time point guard Jajuan Carr (c/o 2020) taking charge of the offense, scoring is efficient and effortless for this squad that doesn’t have much height to work with. Trey Pitman ( is the big man for this team; he’s active under the basket and at the top of the key. The concentration of college coaches around WBC’s court increased with every game this weekend, capping off an impressive weekend for a team that is hitting their stride at the right time.
NC Spartans East— This team, loaded with veteran-type players Jake Ledbetter (6’1 c/o 2020) and Noah Allred (6’7, c/o 2021) who bring the heat without chaos to this team of scorers and defenses, draws looks from coaches, scouts, and other teams each time they play. One of their biggest threats is that they remain poised in the midst of a high-intensity, high-pressure game environments. When shots don’t fall, the defensive pressure, if possible, increases. Assisted by Whit Trevey (6’1, c/o 2020) and Ori Kedem (6’3, c/o 2020) who both had a breakout weekend, this experienced team was a top contender throughout the live period.
The Renegades— This West Virginia team isn’t local, but they made quite the impression with their second chance offensive strategy. The Renegades have a huge board presence from Isaiah Hairston (6’5, c/o 2021) and Thaddeus Jordan (6’4, c/o 2020). Led by Andrew Shull (6’1, c/o 2020), the Renegades can shoot the ball exceptionally well. Once again, coaches and scouts were fighting for a spot on the bleachers to analyze this squad with all-around players who will excel at the next level and are deserving of offers.
Richmond Squires— The Richmond Squires are an under-the-radar team made up of selfless guys. These players draw upon each other on offense because each player has a unique set of skills; when brought together, the skills make for a lethal team that causes difficult matchups and not-so-smooth adjustments for the teams they face. They’re vocal, they’re hardworking, and they get the job done without flashiness or a “me” mentality. Josh Campbell, the glue guy for the Squires (6’3, c/o 2020), and his squad may have been the team that shared the ball best this weekend.
New Light Disciples— Fortunate enough to have a diverse roster and a great rotation, the New Light Disciples were a force to be reckoned with during July’s live period. This program joined this week’s competition as an underrated team and emerged victorious following well-rounded performances from the whole team with noticeable plays and games from Kuluel Mading (6’8, c/o 2020) and Jamarii Thomas (6’1, c/o 2021). The New Light Disciples are a relatively young team which foreshadows growth in chemistry, skills, and athleticism, thus striking them as the team to watch as they progress and play in future events.