This week, we looked at some of the most elite freshmen in the Hoopstate by putting out two separate installments of five special prospects. Today, we’ll do something a little different and take a look at guys that have just begun to hit their stride or are in the early stages of doing so. This list will highlight a variety of different prospects, but are not Phenom Hoops’ official rankings.
6’10 Christian Reeves (Providence Day/Team CP3)
Reeves is the first prospect on this list and probably the most obvious selection of the group, given his elite frame and blossoming skillset. He caught eyes last summer with his sheer size as a rising freshman for Charlotte Nets. Reeves has improved a lot since then and is truly starting to harness his long-term abilities. He’s a fluid athlete that moves incredibly well for his size and runs the floor with great purpose. Reeves’ IQ and overall feel for the game has noticeably improved on both sides of the ball; he’s learning how to properly position himself and utilize his length as a rebounder and rim-protector. He possesses nice touch around the basket and can play above the rim at a solid rate. Reeves has the chance to become a really high-level prospect, especially if he continues on his current trajectory.
6’3 Nolan Hodge (Northern Guilford/NC Gaters)
Most of the prospects on this list already have a reputation, but Hodge is easily the least known of the group. That being said, he has the talent and upside necessary to emerge as a top-tier prospect within this class. Hodge is somewhat wiry but very intelligent and understands how to play the right way. He’s a smooth shooter from the perimeter and has the ability to score efficiently from all three levels. Hodge handles the ball well and makes quality decisions when looking to make plays for others. He possesses a lot of skill and should only get better (especially defensively) as he physically matures and adds strength. Hodge should be a major contributor next season and start demanding the attention of college coaches.
6’6 Jeremy Gregory (Carmel Christian/Team Charlotte)
Perhaps no player on this list is more intriguing than Gregory, the younger (and much bigger) brother of Donovan Gregory–who is set to suit up for Appalachian State next season. He possesses a massive, strong-bodied frame and a fairly unique blend of skills for his size. Gregory is a load for opponents to handle inside the paint and has no issue imposing his will against opposing post players. He has a great feel for his skillset, able to play exclusively on the block or step out and effectively hit perimeter jumpers. Gregory plays the two-man game quite well and displays an understanding of how to roll or pop and apply scoring pressure. He has the chance to emerge as a big-time prospect next season, especially if his role continues to expand.
5’7 Marc Raye (Albemarle/Team Winston)
In terms of sheer intelligence, no player on this list stands out more than Raye, who is already like a coach on the floor. He’s somewhat undersized, but has such an advanced feel for the game that he’s able to dictate the action on both ends of the floor. Raye is a terrific leader that communicates and consistently works to get the best possible scoring opportunity for his team. He scores the ball from all levels, yet looks particularly strong from beyond the arc and typically looks to make plays for others upon getting into the paint. Raye displays meticulous positioning on defense and forces turnovers in a variety of different ways, from playing the passing lanes to utilizing his quickness on the ball. He has a long list of leadership qualities and seems to become more appealing with each new viewing. Raye will emerge sooner than later, especially if he maintains his unselfish, team-first foundation.
6’3 Michael Zanoni (Providence Day/Team CP3)
The final player on this list is Zanoni, an under-the-radar wing prospect with a very useful two-way skillset. He’s smart and plays under control at all times, which allows him to thrive with or without the ball in his hands. Zanoni can operate as a secondary ball-handler and has the necessary craftiness to make an abundance of plays for others. He’s a capable three-level scorer that poses a massive threat as a spot-up shooter, but also understands how to generate space within one to two dribbles. Zanoni does a nice job of affecting all facets of the game while playing within himself and the team concept. He’s an unselfish teammate with excellent vision and quality defensive instincts. It’s still early, but expect Zanoni to become an even more appealing prospect within the next year or so.