By: Ethan Reece

Now that we're through March, April, and two Live Periods, there's a lot to unpack and look back on. Who's made an impression and who are important names to start tracking as we head into the summer' There's so much to note after the first two months of the travel season, so here are some of my takeaways from Phenom's spring events.

WCBA on the Rise

Looking at the 2026-2028 teams of the Wake County organization, it's safe to say with resounding confidence that the future is bright. The assembly of these rosters to be so well balanced and skilled, the success they've shown, along with the coaching are all significant for each of these teams.

Starting with the 2026 group, you should be well aware of how dangerous this team is if you've paid any attention to this division over the last year. They were 3/3 in championships at our events last season and have kept up that same dominance with 2 more championships already this season along with additions to the roster that only boost what they did at an already high level. You simply won't find a more complete roster, regardless of age. Starting in the backcourt, you have Nate Jones, William Migdal, Hudson Fitzgerald, and Nick Ercolino. Jones and Migdal share the duties of facilitation, with Jones being one of the craftiest ball handlers and finishers you'll run into and Migdal a calm and collected game manager with quickness and court vision to break down any defense. Fitzgerald and Ercolino are two of the more dangerous spot-up shooters individually, and together you might as well throw away that help side defense or you'll get beat on kick outs and easily give up 4+ threes a game. They know their roles as shooters and know how to find good looks to stay in rhythm without forcing. Moving onto the key glue guy, Marcus Green, there's not a more complete prospect I've seen in 15u this season that doesn't have to score the ball to be dominant. He's a natural leader that provides anything you need, elite defense, hustle, high IQ decision-making with efficient scoring, and the ability to play bigger than he is inside. He's the ultimate X-factor. And finally, the frontcourt trio of Aidan Rosseau, Isaiah Streeter, and Owen Tucker. Rousseau has yet to find a true matchup defensively that he can't exploit with his skillset, footwork, and paint awareness. He's comfortable working with his back to the basket, has soft touch with a motor to find his misses, and is a brilliant passer out of the post with great patience. Streeter and Tucker work hand-in-hand filling out all the roles in anchoring the 4-spot for this group, with Streeter being a chippy stretch option that has that competitive flare and playmaking mentality that can also step out and knock down the 3, and Tucker being a sound, reliable workhorse putting his body on the line and making opponents earn everything while he outworks them for his offensively. This whole unit has seen success this season and for good reason, there are few teams that can match up with their balance of high IQ ball handling, decision-making, shooting, and versatility. Expect a few more championships this season before they're done.

And to quickly highlight the work of the 2027 and 2028 squads, they're laying down the same foundational principles to follow the precedent currently being set by the 2026 team. 2027s Jeremiah Mercer and Walker Montague have formed a dynamic duo with a well-blended attack from inside and out. Mercer is a longer wing that can really get places off the bounce, using his frame to finish and showing an early operating prowess on the perimeter that draws mismatches for slower bigs and smaller guards. Meanwhile, Montague has been torching the nets as the primary shooting threat, a quick trigger that knows how to find the open spots and hit big shots to keep you in big games while other offensive looks may get stagnant. Lastly, when talking about the 2028 team, the first word you think of is execution. It's rare in AAU in and of itself, but the sets, patience, and understanding of the looks they're trying to get is so impressive, especially when you remember these are 13-year-olds and there are hundreds of high school teams still trying to reach this level of execution. The skills and fundamentals are there so be forewarned for when everything starts to click for this group, it's going to blow you away.

Team Charlotte 2026 on a Tear

To say this team has been dominant this season is an understatement. They've been playing up 2025 and have yet to even find themselves in a single-digit game, straight steamrolling opponents with their relentless full-court pressure. Very few have been able to limit their turnovers, much less break down the pressure, and that all starts with their nightmare backcourt trio of Nick Arnold, Columbus Parker, and RJ Brown. They're consistently electric with their downhill playmaking, diving all over the floor making hustle plays with an undying motor, and overwhelmingly competitive with their in-your-face manner of defense that never lets you rest. At this point, Arnold has proven himself to be the top defender in his class, cutting guys off at every turn, cleanly stripping strong ball handlers at will, and taking charges, not to mention he's elevated his offensive attack with aggressive and strong-willed finishing around the basket with great control and touch. Parker and Brown bring all that same mentality and then some, both feeding off each other's energy and offering leadership as sparkplug playmakers others will follow and run the floor with. Then, you move on to guys like Joseph Youakim and Taurean McKinnon who can service a vast variety of roles with proficiently pleasing results. Youakim has shown to be the most dangerous shooter among this bunch but a dual threat off the bounce with poise as a decision-maker and someone who will constantly find the right places at the right times with effort. McKinnon brings those same qualities with a higher level of athleticism that allows him to defend the post, finish strong inside, and give the edge in the battle on the glass. You need guys like him that are low-maintenance workhorses and will consistently deliver. Rounding out into the frontcourt, you have Tre Harlee and Jaxson Neely. Both have the strength and mobility to man the paint in an up-and-down game where they're able to apply their own pressure, play safety on long passes, and turn rebounds into quick outlets up the court which they'll also run and find easy opportunities around the rim for dump offs or clean up. Simply put with these two, guys their size aren't supposed to be able to move as swiftly as they do with savvy coordination as finishers. And considering all this with the impressive results against good 2025 teams, one can only imagine what will happen with continued development and actually playing down in their age group later down the road.

Unsigned Seniors

2023 Emmanuel Black (Big Shots Elite NC)

There's an abundance of unsung appreciation for the role Emmanuel has taken up on the court as a one-man clean-up crew inside, and he's shown time and again how valuable and productive that position can be. Rebounding and making layups win games, and to put it as simply as possible, Emmanuel can help you do a lot of that. He's a big-time board-man with good hands, the ability to play bigger with timed jumps and wall-up post defense, and does it all in an efficient way that maximizes his touches while he also earns himself more looks by battling for second-chance opportunities. He has a high motor, knows his role, and plays unselfishly, all the qualities to immediately help a program.

2023 Kyler Harris (Cap City Scrappers)

On multiple occasions now Kyler has shown to fill it up on every level, no matter the pace of game, and no one's had the answer defensively to slow him down, much less stop him. He has top-tier athleticism with the swift breakdown game to get to any of his spots on the floor and convert. His first step is explosive, his handle is tight and elusive in traffic, and he has the scoring muscle to finish through contact without much of an adjustment at all. Whether you look at his AAU numbers or this past season at Porter Ridge, the numbers don't lie, and consistency is everything at the next level. He has the scoring prowess to be utilized in any scheme.

2023 Berni Tah (Team Synergy)

If you were looking for a winner, Berni's high school career should speak for itself. He's a two-time undefeated state champion with Weddington and was a key piece that flew under the radar when people looked at how things got done. Although he's in between positions with his size, he has the grown man strength to anchor the paint and finish in crowds. The production comes with the weight room, and he exemplifies that in every area. You can trust him to lead the break after a board, make decisions on the perimeter, and produce without dominating the ball. And whether you see it as a gamble or not, I'd take anyone coming out of the culture they've built at Weddington.

Breakout Prospects

2026 Tarris Bouie (Team EAT)

This one should come as no surprise, as Tarris steadily came up big for Chambers off the bench as a freshman this past season and has made quite the name for himself this spring having just earned his first offer from Hampton. His overall operating skillset is so well-rounded between shooting, passing, and decision-making that he can get things done in so many manners. Up tempo or slowed down in the halfcourt, he understands how to get his looks while also creating shots for others and fully utilizes his insane length on the perimeter with an uptick in his defensive activity. He's going to keep growing and considering some of the other prospects with similar build and game who have made names for themselves in recent NC history, expect big things ahead.

2025 Will James (Strong Center)

After seeing him again to start the spring the work was evident in how much Will had progressed his game. I was already a fan of how he approached the game with a business mentality, and he's only taken that to new heights with his resounding mature mannerism that places production above all else. He plays the game the right way, is a natural leader, and when you combine skillset with the weight room you get the dominance Will's been putting on display. He's shown all kinds of proficiency with his game as a strong finisher with shoulder-driven downhill moves, good competitive poise that allows him to easily take over a game, and the motor/build to control things as a defender with sound rebounding principles. As college coaches eventually look to the 2025 class, expect him to be a priority.

2026 Will Stevens (Carolina Riptide)

It's again worth noting how much Will has showcased while still being in the early stages of his high school career. A true 6'8 with all the inside-out abilities to perfectly match the landscape of today's game, there's very little he hasn't already shown strong flashes of when looking at the checklist for big men. He brings invaluable rim protection with the reach and focuses in tracking down shots around the basket, a legit shooting threat that exposes mismatches when slower guys get drawn out to the perimeter, and a high level of comfort making any array of post moves with his back to the basket, scoring over his shoulder, or working off the move. Tracking as he is right now, he's set up to be a focal point that will dominate the next three years and brings the triple-double potential given his natural feel and motor

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