The last few days have been flooded with discussions about rankings, their value, and what it entails for these young prospects. Whether justified or not, the crosshairs are currently being aimed at those making decisions within the national spotlight. Understandably, saying “rankings don’t matter” isn’t quite as applicable as before (simply due to money and newly introduced variables), but they still don’t determine the success a player will have. That being said, this article will take a closer look at five guys who might be getting slightly overlooked in the bigger scheme of things. Of course, these are not the only five worth mentioning—just the five being featured…
6’1 Arael Jones (Northside Christian)
Although he’s the only player listed who will be adjusting to a transfer, Arael Jones should have a seamless transition from Corvian Community to Northside Christian. He’s a smart, crafty, balanced guard prospect with a polished identity and great feel on both ends of the floor. Jones can assume primary ball-handling duties and reliably set up others or apply efficient scoring pressure from all levels. He creates his own shot with relative ease, but looks to get others involved whenever possible. Jones is able to mix up his scoring approach from anywhere on the floor, but prefers to get downhill and finish in a variety of ways. He’s also a quality defender and rebounder with sharp instincts for forcing turnovers and outworking his assignment. Jones leads by example and is comfortable producing in numerous different roles. He’s a major addition and could easily be a breakout candidate for the title-contending Knights.
6’7 Isaac Ericksen (Green Level)
There will always be a demand for skilled forwards, and Isaac Ericksen fits the notion as well as anyone in North Carolina’s Class of 2025. He’s long, wiry, and already has the ability to actively toggle between the interior and perimeter. Ericksen is a capable scorer from the post, but arguably better when operating from the elbows or beyond the arc. He’s comfortable enough to consistently for himself, able to pick his spots, hit jumpers, and regularly attack opposing forwards off the dribble. Ericksen is a quality shooter, both from midrange and beyond the arc, and knows how to mix up his approach offensively. He’s a solid athlete who finishes well, rebounds at a nice rate, and pushes the break as needed in transition. Ericksen is a skilled, polished, floor-spacing forward who should only continue to get better and better over these next few years.
6’5 Christian Wilkins (1 of 1 Academy)
While there is a slew of worthy guys from 1 of 1 Academy, Christian Wilkins stands out as someone who definitely deserves more attention. He’s a strong, skilled, fairly athletic wing prospect with a great frame and polished scoring prowess from all levels. Between his skillset, physical tools, and ability to succeed with or without the ball, Wilkins has all the makings of a prototypical wing prospect. He’s able to create for himself or others with relative ease, but typically finds opportunities without requiring the ball in his hands. Wilkins is a reliable shooting threat who can spot-up from distance, attack closeouts, and knock down one or two-dribble pull-ups with consistency. He’s a steady defender and rebounder who plays within himself and the team structure quite well. Wilkins is on a loaded roster, but should have no issue continuing to shine as a two-way cog for this group.
6’8 Preston Copeland (Raleigh Christian)
It’s unclear as to why more people aren’t actively discussing Preston Copeland and all his appeal as a current player andlong-term prospect. He’s a long, fluid post prospect with great mobility, developing strength, and a useful interior presence on both ends of the floor. Copeland is a quality athlete and finisher who doesn’t necessarily require the ball to be impactful. He’s a nice finisher with touch, athleticism, and solid scoring ability out of the post. Copeland understands how to make a lasting impact through rebounding, altering shots, and capitalizing on his opportunities within the flow of the offense. He also runs the floor properly in transition. Though still progressing, Copeland should be closely monitored by Division I coaches over the foreseeable future.
5’9 Chris Mitchell (Northern Guilford)
Although the Nighthawks lost majority of their core, Chris Mitchell should be the clear leader and focal point of this new-look group. While he might be young and slightly undersized, Mitchell is a legitimate floor general with IQ, quickness, and the ability to set the tone on both ends of the floor. He’s a very sharp, poised ball-handler who makes great decisions when navigating the floor and looking to set up others. Mitchell is a capable scorer with the ability to touch the paint at will and knock down jumpers as needed. He’s an unselfish passer who looks to make the best possible play whenever the ball is in his hands. Mitchell is also a pest defensively and forces turnovers at a pretty high volume. All signs point to a breakout season, so college coaches would be wise to start monitoring sooner than later.