Each and every year there are some kids that are getting recruited at the regional level take that next step and see their stock rise from a national perspective. Unfortunately with the COVID-19 Pandemic a lot of these kids won’t have the opportunity to be seen at their respective events by college coaches, scouts, or media. Typically the local evaluators have the opportunity to get an early look at kids primed to see their recruitment take the next step during the scholastic season. Here are some 2021 prospects that could see their recruitment pop once things start getting back to normal. There are currently 3 players in North Carolina in the 2021 class that have already broken out at the national level by most standards. Those guys are Carter Whitt (Leesville Road/Team Thad EYBL), Dontrez Styles (Kinston and Team CP3 EYBL), and Eric Van Der Heijden (Millbrook/Team Wall AAU) so they won’t be included in either edition of these articles.

6’10 Kuluel Mading (The Burlington School/Team Curry UAA)

Mading is being recruited in the southeast (Clemson, UNCW, Elon, Western Carolina, UNCG, and Radford have already offered) but has the kind of potential that will have college coaches chomping at the bit during evaluation periods.

He’s a lanky and athletic rim running forward with rim protection capabilities to go with emerging perimeter skills. He’s a national top 150 kind of prospect and as he continues to add strength and become a more polished finisher inside he will undoubtedly be an impact two way guy where ever he ends up.

This season he helped lead The Burlington School to a NCISAA 1A state title berth and finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 blocks in their semi-final win over defending champion Greenfield School.

Mading will likely continue to add to his already strong offer list with a strong senior season at The Burlington School where he’ll be looked at as a leader after a big time senior season.

This Summer with Team Curry, Mading would’ve been a perfect fit with a variety of skilled and versatile playmakers around him and is a likely benefactor of playing with the pace pushing backcourt of Angelo Brizzi and Jamarii Thomas.

6’2 Bobby Pettiford (South Granville High School/Team CP3 EYBL)

We saw Bobby Pettiford emerge as a no question high major talent over the last 6-8 months but I think his ceiling is considerably higher than just the high major label. I think Pettiford is a legitimate top 75 type talent nationally and should see his recruitment continue to spike once he gets back on the court.

After a strong summer in 2019 on the EYBL playing with CP3s 16u team, Pettiford really started to assert himself as the most electrifying point guard in the HoopState during an unprecedented season with his South Granville squad.

Pettiford used his combination of elite vision, explosiveness, and shot making ability to lead South Granville to the first undefeated season in school history before ultimately losing to Farmville Central in the NCHSAA 2A East finals in overtime.

Pettiford currently holds offers from Virginia Tech, High Point, ECU, UNCW, and Elon. Expect that list to grow considerably with a lot of other high majors and even blue bloods reaching out to the star PG.

The thing that makes Pettiford so special is that he brings such a complete package to your team from the PG spot. He can do all of the physical challenges at both ends of the court, he’s a vocal leader and he goes all out to find a way to win.

Pettiford simply exhibits the kind of talent and competitive fire you need at the PG spot at the high major level. As he becomes more and more of a knockdown shooter Bobby can become one of the top PG’s in the entire country.

6’6 Lucas Taylor (Heritage High School/Garner Road 3SSB)

Taylor has made steady progress in his game over the last 2-3 years and its showing dividends in his production along with his recruitment level. He’s emerged as the kind of modern day wing that can find a role within a rotation on so many rosters due to the skillset he brings to the table.

Taylor has shown the combination of perimeter shooting and defensive versatility that is valued so highly in modern basketball. He sports a wiry frame with excellent instincts on the offensive end while moving without the basketball. The kid finds a way to get open and shoot a high percentage from the perimeter.

With the strong interior presence of Will Felton (Keep an eye out for part two) on this G-Road squad Taylor had a chance to be a beneficiary of playing with a go to big that knows how to find his shooters on the perimeter when the defense collapses and if the travel season can somehow return, expect that to be a dynamic duo for this program.

Taylor has made considerable strides in his ability to create offense and has shown great consistency as an off the dribble jump shooter when he brings that out of the bag.

Taylor currently holds offers from Hofstra, ECU, and Wofford. Expect that list to grow among mid-majors considerably, even beyond the east coast. I also wouldn’t be surprised at all to see high majors to become more and more intrigued as Taylor continues to showcase his tantalizing skillset.

6’5 AJ Smith (Hickory Grove Christian/Team Charlotte UAA)

Smith is one of the most underappreciate prospects in the State of North Carolina due to his combination of power and skill from the guard position. His ability to use his strength to over power defenders along with his advanced playmaking abilities make him a target for high level programs.

Smith can play the 1-3 on both ends of the floor and can fill a variety of roles for a team. He can be a ball stopping defender, initiate your offense and make plays for his teammates or be a primary option capable of creating offense for himself.

He’s been the focal point on his high school team for multiple seasons now and was an impact guy for Team Charlotte 17u last season playing up an age group. This has allowed his development to further itself, making Smith a more complete player at an early stage in his career.

Smith currently holds offers from Texas A&M, Elon, Charlotte, Hampton, and Appalachian State. That list will continue to grow due to the level of productivity he brings to the table each and every time out. Smith was one of NCs leading scorers last season averaging over 25 PPG.

6’4 D’Marco Dunn (Westover High School/Garner Road 3SSB)

Dunn recently moved to North Carolina and quickly established himself as one of the top prospects in the entire state. He brings a ton of variety in the ways he can score whether it be in transition, creating for himself in the half-court, or as a spot up threat with his soft touch from beyond the 3 point line.

Dunn saw an uptick in his recruitment quickly after the season started and led Westover to an undefeated season and state championship game berth before the games were delayed/cancelled by COVID-19.

Dunn is showing the kind of winning, production, and long term growth potential in his game to be a national top 150 level prospect. To come into this state and in your first season lead your team to an undefeated season in the hoops hotbed that is the 910 is a really special achievement.

Dunn currently holds offers from UTEP, ECU, VCU, North Carolina A&T, Wichita State, UC Riverside, Vanderbilt, South Florida, and Appalachian State. If he continues to build on his debut season in the HoopState there’s no reason why that list shouldn’t grow considerably.

Be sure to stay tuned for part two of this series for 2021s as well as both editions for the 2022 and 2023 class.