Although rankings are clearly meant to be discussed and debated, it feels like there are numerous noteworthy prospects in North Carolina’s Class of 2021 that are still underrated. Obviously, the term “underrated” is a subjective one and completely based on opinion and preference. However, there’s an argument to be made for each of these prospects, especially since most of them hold zero scholarship offers at this point in time. Now, let’s take a closer look…
6’5 D’Marco Dunn (Westover)
It’s somewhat difficult to be underrated after receiving an offer from VCU, but Dunn’s name should be heavily in circulation by now. He’s already asserted himself as a top tier prospect within this class, given his early two-way dominance and leadership at Westover. Dunn possesses all the tools: IQ, vision, craftiness, defense, toughness, and efficient three-level scoring. He simply makes the game look easy. Dunn is an excellent scorer but is equally impressive as a playmaker for others. After relocating to North Carolina this past summer, one should expect him to collect another ten to twenty offers over the next calendar year—he’s that talented.
6’8 Dante Kiesenhofer (Holly Springs)
Although he’s already been on the radar and played for shoe-circuit teams over the last few years, Kiesenhofer is another prospect that should have more buzz surrounding him. With his size, mobility, and defensive prowess/versatility, it feels like schools around the region must be overlooking something. For as great of a defensive player as he is, Kiesenhofer is no slouch on offense. He’s a clever passer that possesses touch with either hand, floor-spacing ability, and well-rounded athleticism. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t constantly hunt for his shot or try to do too much, but Kiesenhofer deserves a massive uptick in his recruitment sooner than later. He has all the tools to be a huge benefit for a variety of Division I programs.
6’7 Jamylan Blakeney (Combine Academy)
Few teams in North Carolina have seen the (appropriate) hype and excitement of Combine Academy, and Blakeney is quietly a major part of their success. He might not jump off the page on paper, but he’s arguably the most switchable and versatile defensive player in the region. At 6-foot-7, Blakeney can literally do anything and defend anyone on that end of the floor. He’s not a center but can protect the rim like one. His blend of length, athleticism, and quick-twitch instincts make him a matchup nightmare for most opponents. Blakeney knows his offensive game quite well, typically only looking to capitalize on easy opportunities around the basket but also showing the ability to step out and knock down a jumper on occasion.
6’9 Nate Brafford (Tuscola)
It should be fairly obvious as to why Brafford makes, and arguably highlights, this list. He’s long, wiry, and looks like he weights about eighty pounds soaking wet. That being said, Brafford is an absolute killer on the court and has proven to be one of the most productive players in the state. The keys to Tuscola were thrown his way this season and he’s led the way like clockwork. Already blessed with size, length, and a ton of offensive skill, Brafford has only continued to sharpen his skillset and rim-protection abilities over the last few months. Playing with Team Charlotte over the summer certainly added a little bit more moxie to his game, but his talent level has never been in question. Now that his numbers are simply ridiculous, and on a nightly basis, it feels like Brafford should start to collect a slew of offers going forward. If being thin is the concern, then there’s no legitimate concern.
5’9 Kadyn Dawkins (Eastern Guilford)
Easily the most underrated and overlooked prospect on this list, Dawkins might not have the glitz, glamour, and shoe-circuit backing like the previous four but his game speaks volumes. No one on this list has been tasked with carrying and elevating their teammates to Dawkins’ degree. He’s a true point guard that doubles as a lethal bucket-getter and, although slightly undersized, continues to show that killer instinct while destroying everyone in his path. Dawkins is a sharp ball-handler with quickness, craftiness, and exceptional vision. However, his ability to get defenders on his back, pull-up from midrange, launch bombs from distance, and finish through contact at the rim forces the opposition to keep guessing. Dawkins is one of the toughest, most clever players in the state and college coaches will be forced to acknowledge his production very soon.