From the Sidelines

Coach Rick's Take-Aways from the Rocky River vs. Independence game

Independence 90
Rocky River 73

Phenom Hoop Report traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to cover the rematch between two heavyweights in the NCHSAA Southwestern 4A Conference. Independence came into the contest with a 21-1 record and ranked second in the Phenom Hoop Report NCHSAA statewide poll regardless of classification. The lone loss came to NCISAA power Carmel Christian. On the other hand, Rocky River entered the game with a 17-4 record with losses to teams like Cox Mill, Butler, and Independence. Independence came out on top and the game was much closer than the final score. With the win, Independence sports a 13-0 record in the Southwestern 4A conference and secured the championship outright.

Senior Night

What better way to go out and wrap up a conference championship over your crosstown rival and that's exactly what Independence did! The Patriots entered the contest with a perfect 12-0 conference record and the storybook season continues for coach Preston Davis. 5'10 senior Jordan Mobley shot 'lights out' for a team-high 23 points while 6'5 Jamarius Burton stuffed the stat sheets for a triple double


5'10 Jordan 'The Dagger' Mobley
Jordan Mobley won't quickly forget senior night anytime soon. His performance against Rocky River will give him a lifetime of memories. Mobley finished with a team-high 23 points including six 3-pointers, not to mention a seldom seen four-point play where he was fouled on a made 3-pointer. When Rocky River made a run in the third quarter and pulled the game within one, it was Mobley who hit back to back to back 3-pointers.




6'5 Jamarius 'The Stat Stuffer 'Burton (Independence HS)
Jamarius is one of the top unsigned seniors in the North Carolina 2018 class and is currently ranked 30th in our latest Phenom Hoop Report ranking. Looks like Burton took offense to it and rightfully so because his performance was worthy of a top ten player and one of the better all-around performances we have seen this season. As a matter of fact, his performance Tuesday night earned an offer from East Tennessee State University, one of the top mid-major schools in the country. Burton has a unique blend of strength, length, athleticism and a matching skill and could transition into a point guard at the next level. Well, some will find that hard to believe, but the 'facts are in the pudding.' Burton finished with a triple-double of 11 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds. That being said, Burton has the ability to play and guard multiple positions and we expect his recruitment to explode in the final month of play. We're talking about a young man that brings effort, energy and enthusiasm to each possession of the game and what college program wouldn't welcome that!


6'4 Jaden 'Man Child' Springer (Rocky River HS)
Simply put, Jaden Springer has a grown man's game. He is the consensus number one player in the Phenom Hoop Report 2020 rankings and rightfully so. In addition, he will be in continuous conversation as one of the top players nationally in the 2020 class. Springer scored a game-high 32 points and to be quite honest, that was about as quiet 32 points we've watched this season. First of all, Springer is graced with a physically mature frame. He has all the physical attributes such as strength, length, and explosiveness. That being said, he combines the power and strength with a game that features touch and finesse. In addition, we will take it one step further. There may not be a better player in the country regardless of class that has a better midrange game. Rarely do you see a young man that combines the physical attributes and intangibles that also plays within the rhythm of the game. His shots all game within the framework of the game and in our opinion is very unselfish and is vastly underrated as a passer. He has excellent court vision and is a willing passer. Springer was constantly making 'pitch ahead' passes and hitting open teammates. Without question, Jaden Springer is a special young player.


6'3 '19 AJ McKee 'Stock on the Rise' (Independence)
AJ McKee impressed us at the Phenom Palmetto Showcase and his play again Tuesday night once again proved why we believe he is a legit top 40 prospect in the North Carolina 2019 class. McKee finished with 19 points including three 3-pointers. McKee's game resembles teammate Jamarius Burton, but with a better perimeter game. That in itself is a great compliment and in our opinion, we expect huge things this summer for McKee, not to mention he will be looked upon as a leader of the team his senior season. Like Burton, McKee can play and guard multiple positions. He has good strength and is an effective and efficient 3-point shooter. In addition, McKee has the ability to finish on contact and also plays within the framework of the game.


6'6 '19 Matt Smith 'Rock Steady' (Independence)
Matt Smith simply continues to be 'rock steady' and consistent for coach Preston Davis. Smith finished with 14 points, six rebounds and blocked three shots. While he was on the receiving end of a few nifty passes by Burton for slam dunks, Smith has continued to develop a 'step out' midrange game. Smith is active and aggressive on both ends of the court and provides good energy and effort. His play on Tuesday night also earned him a scholarship offer from East Tennessee State.




5'11 '19 Raja Milton 'Scrappy as they come' (Independence)
Every team needs a player like Raja Milton! He may not be the biggest player on the court, but one thing is for certain, he is as scrappy as they come. Milton plays with a big heart and his fearless approach to the team provides the glue for Independence. Milton is a tough and active defender and is excellent in transition. Milton finished with 15 points including three 3-pointers.




5'7 '21 Khalil Brantley 'Doesn't play like a freshman' (Rocky River)
Khalil Brantley may be physical small, he plays a seasoned veteran. Brantley has tremendous quickness, ball handling and impeccable court vision. He is difficult to contain and has the ability to slither through small defensive opening for dribble penetration. We were impressed with his poise and maturity and is definitely one to watch in the 2021 class.


Best of the Rest

6'5 '19 Darlinstone Dubar (Rocky River)
At our open gym report, we stated, 'Darlinstone Dubar' may be one of the best players in the Charlotte area you have not heard about. He didn't get a lot of playing time last season, but boy has he continued to make tremendous strides in his game. He is good size, length, athleticism and a growing skill set. He finished with 10 points.

Missing in Action

Unfortunately, Rocky River was playing without one of its top scorers in Jordan Campbell. The game was much closer than the final score. That being said, Campbell was sorely missed in the key matchup. We, at Phenom Hoop Report, wish a speedy recovery for Campbell and hopefully he can return before the NCHSAA state playoffs.

The Crowd

Kudos to the student section and fans from both schools for a packed gym. This is what high school basketball is all about. You have a high-level game with high-level teams with high- level players. It's only fitting you have a gym of high- level fans that demonstrated energy and enthusiasm.

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