This past weekend, I attended my first Phenom Hoops event in Kingsport, Tennessee. Man, I had been looking forward to this one; I've been working as a scout/journalist in Virginia for the last several weeks since getting on board with the Phenom Hoop Report crew. When I noticed that one of our exposure camps, the Tennessee Phenom 150, was coming up soon on the calendar, I made sure to mark it down. The trip to Kingsport proved well worthwhile, as the Saturday camp was a big success. The camp included a junior Phenom for the middle school ages and a 150 camp for the high schoolers. I used to go to several camps back during my high school days. Let's just say some were better than others. At Phenom Hoops, our camps do not only just aim to give players opportunities for exposure but also advice on how to properly approach the game of basketball. Aside from player evaluations, I took notice of several other components of my first Phenom Hoops event:
Coach Rick's Five Golden Rules
- Listen with your eyes
- Always say 'Thank You'
- Always say 'Yes Sir and No Sir'
- Work hard and have fun
- Establish good habits
These five rules spoken by Coach Rick Lewis, the head honcho of Phenom Hoop Report, to the campers took place before the balls started rolling. The speech is an annual one; Coach Rick has reiterated it for the past 15 years since Phenom Hoops' camps first came into existence. I'm sure the rules spoke true to the players just as much as they did to me.
Most people tend to forget how important eye contact truly is. One of the assistant coaches for my college basketball team used to always emphasize this concept to our entire team. It's a minor detail that speaks volumes. Players may be listening with their ears but how can one really tell if their eyes are darting elsewhere' Having manners in saying 'thank you' and 'yes/no sir' goes a long way not just in sports but in life. One can never be 'too grown' to show these manners. Lastly, I like how Coach Rick combined rules #4 and 5. He explained how hard work and knowing how to have fun (basketball is only a game at the end of the day) will show in creating good habits for players. I admired these five 'golden rules' by Coach Rick and hope each player who comes across the speech will apply the advice to his/her life.
Before the afternoon games took place, players were grouped and participated in seven different skill stations throughout the facility. The structure of these stations impressed me greatly. While the drills proved as useful, the teaching by the coaches stood out the most. Our camp coaching staff did a great job in detailing what players needed to do and why they needed to do it. Whenever a player didn't understand something or incorrectly performed a move, a coach would stop him to explain. I can't stress how important it is to hold players accountable nowadays. There's no use in doing drills on the court in an incorrect way; it just creates bad habits (reference to Coach Rick's 5th'golden rule). Huge props to our camp coaching staff for their instruction all throughout Saturday.
'Three Dribble' Rule
Personally, I probably loved this concept of camp the most. Coach Rick implemented this prior to the start of games, letting players know that four or more dribbles once crossing half-court would result in a turnover. The refs were on it from the jump. The players caught on quickly and did a nice job of sharing the ball to create plays for others. I honestly have never seen a 'three dribble' rule before at any camps I partook in or witnessed. That rule was an EXCELLENT strategy in my eyes. At exposure camps, players show up mainly for the' well, exposure. This notion can aid into 'point-hunting.' The last thing college coaches want to see is selfish play; dominating the ball plays a part in that. Less dribbles permitted force players to rely on ball movement and IQ in half-court settings. Brilliant rule by Coach Rick.
Even with some minor uncertainty regarding the weather forecast, we had a great showing in Kingsport. Attendees ranged from eight different states. Within the competition, here are six players that stood out from Saturday in my eyes; three from the middle school side and three high schoolers:
5'8' Joltin Harrison '23- Holston Middle School (Kingsport, TN)
The hometown eighth-grader displayed a very mature game all throughout Saturday. The most impressive facet of Harrison's game is how he never forces the issue as a ball-handler. Many players, especially at a young age, want to attempt plays at a fast pace when they have the ball in their hands. Harrison was an exception; he let the game come naturally to him and knew when to make the unselfish play, which he demonstrated consistently. Along with his ball distribution, he showed a nice shooting ability from both the midrange and three-point level. If he continues to sharpen up his handle and get stronger, Harrison will find success as a poised high school player.
5'9' Bradin Minton '23- Church Hill Middle School (Church Hill, TN)
Minton was a great leader and team player for his squad all day at camp. His productivity stood out some of the most in the eighth-grade group. Minton can get out quickly in the open floor to find a lane when he doesn't have the ball. Handling the rock, the combo guard is very quick in attacking the basket and getting in the paint. His aggressiveness allows him to draw fouls frequently. His defense and playmaking for others were other positives. Minton showed a tendency to go left almost all of the time. He will need to develop an ability in attacking the basket with both hands so opponents will not be able to predict his drives. His shooting can also improve; he can make shots but isn't a 'shooter' quite yet. With his focus, I'm confident the Church Hill native will turn some heads in the years to come.
6'0' Trent Noah '24- Harlan Elementary School (Baxter, KY)
Noah's size caught eyes immediately; he's already standing at six feet tall only as a seventh-grader. His exceptional strength and wingspan compliments him in being an intimidating force as a forward. Noah had some of the best versatility in the middle school age group. He grab rebounds, made nice passes, drove to the rim, and swatted away shots. His IQ seems to be his best feature currently; Noah always knew what the right play was to make. His finishing and touch around the rim will need to improve, along with his lateral quickness, but Noah's ceiling is remarkably high when acknowledging his upside and intangibles.
5'11' Hamilton Campbell '21- Grundy High (Vansant, VA)
Campbell was arguably the best distributor in the entire gym on Saturday. He put on a SHOW in his passing ability. His play sort of reminded me of the iconic Jason Williams, except not as flashy. It was only right that he received the 'Mr. Playmaker' award prior to camp dismissal. Campbell's vision and shooting stand out as his best skills right now. He attracts opponents with his penetration in the lane and finds others before they even realize they're open. His shooting comes mostly from pull-ups, stretching out to deep range. What Campbell will have to now focus on is decreasing his turnovers. Sometimes, he tends to force the assist. If he continues to lower the turnover rate and get stronger, Campbell can be an electrifying guard for his last three years of high school.
6'1' Jalen Walker-Crawford '19- Asheville Christian Academy (Asheville, NC)
While he sort of had a slow start in games, Walker-Crawford never showed any lack of confidence and started to explode as the games went on. The Asheville native has a nice blend of size and skill at the shooting guard position. He was one of the best at creating his own shot, especially off the bounce in the midrange area. In addition, he can finish at the rim with both hands and pickpocket opponents if they're careless with the ball. If he includes a three-point shot and better handle in his arsenal, Walker-Crawford will be a dangerous scorer for the Lions in his senior campaign.
6'7' Benjamin Knight '20- Lakeway Christian School (Seymour, TN)
Knight has a solid frame to go along with his height as a forward. He spends a lot of time inside the paint but also showed a knack for knocking down spot-up short corner jumpers. His rebounding, mainly on the defensive side, was very effective for his team. Knight also used his strength well when fighting for post position and could shoot hook shots over both shoulders. He also threw down a couple of nice dunks throughout the games. Knight must learn how to protect the ball better and hustle down the court at all times but showed a lot of promise as a 2020 forward prospect.
The TN Phenom 150 camp was a great one! Check out our website for more upcoming exposure events!