Over two hundred of the top eighth graders were on display in Greensboro, North Carolina this weekend for the prestigious CP3 Rising Stars Camp. There were many intriguing subplots throughout the event, including the basis of this article, which will highlight five prospects from the Carolinas that made the Top 24 All-American contest. Perry Smith Jr. was the lone Palmetto-state representative in the finale, while North Carolina ran deep with Jaden Bradley, Freddie Dillone, Jalen Hood-Schifino, and MJ Rice all making the roster. These five guys are quite different from one another, and this article will examine each of them.
6’8 Perry Smith Jr. (North Augusta/Team United)
There’s a lot to like with Smith, who has all the tools to become a modern-day forward from the 3-and-D mold. Offensively, he mainly looks to get downhill and finish through contact, yet also shows perimeter capabilities and the ability to effectively spot-up without the ball. Smith is still growing as an overall shot creator, but he definitely has frequent flashes on offense, especially through use of his quality athleticism around the basket. The idea that he could grow into a combo-forward with pick-and-pop potential is quite intriguing, and actually pretty realistic. That being said, Smith makes the most impact on defense, where he provides strong versatility and a consistently high motor. His length and athletic frame make him problematic for all types of opponents. The two-way forward will certainly emerge as one of the top prospects in South Carolina, regardless of class.
6’2 Jaden Bradley (Cannon/B. Maze Elite)
The point guard has definitely built a reputation for himself as a walking highlight, and this stage was perfect for him to showcase those skills. Bradley is a well-rounded player that knows how to utilize his strength and athleticism. He has nice size and length for his position, which allows him to have an aggressive approach on defense. Bradley breaks down opponents with ease and enters the paint whenever he desires, where he’s able to make crafty plays in abundance. The lead guard displays a strong IQ and overall feel for the game, but it’s his surprising explosiveness that catches opponents on their toes. When engaged, Bradley is incredibly hard to stop, and he’s continuing to add consistency to his jumper from distance. He’ll have the keys to Cannon for these next four years, so it’ll be interesting to see how quickly he can bring them back to title contention.
6’4 Freddie Dillone (Trinity Christian/Team CP3)
We’ve seen the wing prospect numerous times over the last year, but it was nice to see his strong play justified with a selection to the All-American game at Rising Stars Camp. Dillone has always been a potent scorer, and that’s exactly what he continued to showcase throughout camp. He’s a quality finisher, but typically thrives on midrange pull-ups and shots from beyond the arc, despite a slightly unorthodox shot form. Dillone is a terror in transition and makes excellent decisions with the ball, which allows him to dictate a lot action on offense. That being said, he’s continued to improve as an all-around defender, displaying refined instincts while defending on and off-ball. Few players are able to match his feel for the game, especially when looking to score. Dillone’s scoring will absolutely translate to the high school level, given his ability to make an impact with or without the ball.
6’3 Jalen Hood-Schifino (Northside Christian/Team Charlotte)
There weren’t many players on display with a stronger blend of production and potential than Hood-Schifino. We’ve seen the lead guard with Northside Christian and Team Charlotte, but this setting really showcased what he can do against guys his own age. Offensively, Hood-Schifino demands a lot of attention and utilizes his strong body to bully opposing guards off the dribble. He gets to the rim whenever he wants and showcases a high level of creativity around the basket, both on finishes and passes. Hood-Schifino is a terrific playmaker with great passing instincts and a high IQ. He’s still growing as a shooter, but has shown flashes of an efficient stroke from midrange. However, finishing strong at the rim is still his most reliable scoring method, and he shows no fear of contact from contesting opponents. His best basketball is likely ahead, yet he’s already a quality two-way player, which should instill fear throughout the private basketball scene in North Carolina.
6’5 MJ Rice (Durham Academy/Team Wall)
It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Rice doesn’t emerge as one of the top players in the Class of 2022, and his play at CP3 Rising Stars definitely backed up that sediment. The power athlete was probably the most versatile defender on display, playing a ton of minutes at the two big man positions, despite giving up length to most opponents. That being said, Rice still showcased his ability to play on the perimeter and dominate, especially when getting downhill and attacking the rim. He’s big, strong, and truly understands how to utilize his body to impose his will against all types of opponents. In transition, he’s a monster, and most guys tend to get out of his way unless they’re willing to end up on the unfortunate end of a posterizing dunk. At camp, Rice showed promising signs of growth as a jump shooter, and we’ll be watching his progression closely over the next few years.