Although the grassroots landscape feels substantially different than in years past, programs have still found ways to adapt and prepare for the upcoming LIVE periods. The popularity of North Carolina-based teams is widely known and acknowledged throughout the region. Fortunately, our events allow us to see new faces and get updated viewings for prospects outside of the Carolinas. Take Team Rogue for example, a squad from Tennessee/Virginia who we’ve seen steadily grow and maintain majority of their main pieces over the years. They showed up this past weekend with just seven players, yet mustered up quite notable success. So, how did they manage to get it done?

Well, it all starts with their coaching, personnel, and overall chemistry as a group. Coach Cusano has designed a well-oiled machine whose success is directly predicated on unselfishness and ball-movement (and perimeter shooting to a lesser extent). Their makeup doesn’t necessarily possess elite athletes or a ton of interior size, but each player’s understanding of how to embrace their respective role makes them extremely difficult for opponents. The passer-friendly style of play naturally leads to a balanced offensive attack where everyone’s involvement matters. Add in their skill level across the board, and it’s easy to see why college coaches will ultimately make a priority out of this group. Let’s take a closer look at their roster…

Given the construct of this squad, the forward trio of 6’5 ’22 Bradley Bunch, 6’5 ’23 Brandon Dufore, and 6’7 ’23 Sean Cusano largely carry the production for Team Rogue. Bunch is arguably the steadiest guy on the roster, given how consistently his high motor and blue-collar approach lead to strong scoring and rebounding totals. His touch, skill, nonstop activity around the basket allows him to dominate opponents for extended stretches. Bunch is coming off a state-championship season for Union High School, where he led the team in blocks and secured 2A Virginia Player of the Year honors. Programs like VMI, UVA-Wise, Emory and Henry, Bridgewater, and Roanoke have been active within his recruitment. 

Meanwhile, Dufore is a highly skilled wing/forward prospect with a high IQ, wiry frame, and the well-rounded skillset to cause a ton of matchup problems for the opposition. He’s a reliable perimeter shooter and interior scorer with excellent vision for his size/position. At 6-foot-5, Dufore can initiate the offense and create for himself or others quite effectively. He rebounds the ball very well and actively looks to push the break in transition, where he’s proven capable of making quality decisions. He also doubles as a major piece for Tennessee High School. Already one of the youngest players on this team, Dufore will certainly be a target for scholarship-level programs to prioritize over the coming years. 

Photo Courtesy: @UBearBasketball

Despite being their tallest player on the roster, Cusano is an extremely skilled cog and possibly the most intriguing prospect of the aforementioned trio. At a sturdy 6-foot-7, his size makes him even more of a mismatch for opponents. Cusano appears more than comfortable at operating along the perimeter or inside the paint, showing the ability to find opportunities and produce in both facets. He’s a reliable shooter, passer, and capable of creating effectively within two or three dribbles. Cusano also rebounds at a consistent rate, pushes the break well for his size/position, and offers terrific activity level defensively. After averaging a double-double and earning First Team All-State honors, he’s transferring from Union High School (VA) to Hilton Head Prep (SC), and already has interest from the likes of VMI, Mercer, UVA-Wise, NC Wesleyan, and Emory and Henry. 

In addition to the main forward grouping, the guard play of 5’11 ’23 Peyton Honeycutt, 5’10 ’23 Landon Kirkpatrick, and 6’1 ’24 Luke Jenkins each bring their own distinct identity to the table. As their best defender, Honeycutt really embodies the traits of a heady floor general on either side of the ball. He’s tough, scrappy, and displays a quality feel for the game, which allows him to force turnovers, set up others, and score within the flow of the action. Honeycutt highlights sharp anticipation instincts and makes consistently intelligent decisions with the ball in his hands. He’s another vital staple for Union High School. 

As year-round teammates, the Daniel Boone High School duo of Kirkpatrick and Jenkins both understand how to maximize their respective roles with this Team Rogue group. Each guy provides excellent unselfishness and two-way energy. Boone shows the ability to operate with or without the ball in his hands while Kirkpatrick regularly stands out with his tough defensive presence. 

Add in guys like 6’4 ’22 Landon Carrico, 6’2 ’23 Wade Witcher, and 6’0 ’22 Caiden Bartee, and it’s easy to see how this program has consistently found success. Another cog for Daniel Boone High School, Carrico is a quality shooter with size, rebounding instincts, and well-rounded defensive ability. Although Witcher and Bartee weren’t in attendance this past weekend, both guys make a constant impact when present. 

Given the massive variance in ages/classes across this roster, it’s understandable how college coaches might overlook this group. However, Team Rogue is absolutely littered with next-level talent from top to bottom. They did an excellent job of competing and further solidifying themselves as a noteworthy team at our Stay Positive Classic, so one should expect a wide variety of college coaches to lay groundwork with this group.