On Tuesday, Phenom Hoops traveled out to Greensboro, North Carolina for the Haeco Invitational. Formerly the Timco Little Four, this post-Christmas event has been a staple in the city over the last 45 years. During a thrilling first day of games, Dudley narrowly fell to Smith and found themselves in the consolation bracket. Regardless, the Panthers have shown consistent flashes throughout the season, and should only get better over the coming years. Keep in mind, they’ve managed quite well despite suffering an injury to one of their key players in Nas Newkirk. Let’s take a closer look at some of their main pieces…
5’9 ’22 Spencer Hairston
Anyone who has watched Hairston over the last six months should already be aware of his abilities. However, the lack of college coaches in pursuit of the two-way guard definitely raises some questions. Every year, programs beg for toughness and shot-making—basically the description of Hairston—yet drag their feet on guys like him for one reason or another. Sure, he’s slightly undersized, but it’s truly had zero negative effect on his ability to produce. In each viewing this season, Hairston has gobbled up rebounds, swatted shots defensively, and hasn’t been blocked on the other end. So, does the size really matter? He’s smart and tough enough to overwhelm his assignment on both ends of the floor. Hairston makes countless jumpers with varying degrees of difficulty, both off the catch and bounce, at a high percentage. Add in his initiation ability, defensive prowess, and general production, and he’s an obvious college-level player.
6’1 ’24 Cam Flippen
While his teammate above might lead the team in scoring, Flippen still stands out as a major leader and overall focal point for this group. He typically serves as their primary ball-handler and playmaker, but displays great balance between scoring and setting up others. Flippen possesses poise with the ball in his hands, especially for his age, and understands how to make intelligent decisions with consistency. He’s a capable scorer from all three levels, but also understands how to touch the paint, force defenses to shift/collapse, and make the proper read. Flippen battles for rebounds, makes a strong impact defensively, and simply leads by example for this group. He’s already very productive, so it’ll be exciting to see his progression over the next few years.
6’5 ’23 Tre McNeil
Given his status as their main interior presence, McNeil is a college-level player who still has plenty of potential to harness. Currently, he does an excellent job of embracing his role/identity and working to do the little things on either side of the ball. McNeil is the leading rebounder and shot-blocker on the team, which seems to be visible on a nightly basis. That being said, he’s also a capable finisher and continues to develop as a floor-spacing option. He can hit the occasional midrange or three-point jumper, but doesn’t force the action and primarily looks to capitalize on dunks and dump-offs. McNeil will be a prospect for colleges to monitor over the next twelve months.
5’9 ’23 Denzel Foster
Though undersized, Foster plays a very critical role for this group. He offers another tough, shot-making presence who simply knows how to compete. Foster possesses range, cutting instincts, and a scrappy defensive nature. He gets to his spots and can heat up quickly, but also looks to make the right play whenever possible.
6’5 ’23 Antwan Sutton
Although his numbers might not necessarily reflect his impact, Sutton is a definite difference-maker for the Panthers. Similar to McNeil, he does an excellent job of wreaking havoc and making hustle plays on both ends of the floor. He’s a tough, active interior piece with abilities as a rebounder and shot-altering cog.