This past weekend, Phenom Hoops traveled out to cover the NCHSAA LIVE Periods at the Rise Indoor Facility in Advance, North Carolina. There were a ton of notable prospects on display, and coaches watched accordingly. Although D2, D3, JUCO, and NAIA coaches have already been in the gym for quite a while, this was the first opportunity for Division I programs to lay groundwork following an in-person viewing in over twelve months. Countless offers went out to deserving prospects, but plenty of guys were ultimately left empty-handed and still fighting to prove themselves to the masses. Division I programs have actually seemed pretty willing to extend offers, it’s the other levels who have begun hoarding their scholarships. Regardless, we will take a closer look at five standout prospects with obvious next-level ability…
6’0 Connor Ballou (Northwest Guilford)
Although he’s far from the only appealing piece on this roster, Connor Ballou only continues to shine as a leader and overall catalyst for the Vikings. We’ve previously documented his transition from being a scoring off-guard to an efficient floor general, but it was even more impressive over the recent weekend. Ballou is very balanced with the ball in his hands, displaying IQ, vision, and a knack for scoring from all levels. He can create for himself or effectively operate alongside another primary ball-handler—given his abilities as a cutter and spot-up threat. Perhaps Ballou’s steady nature is perplexing coaches, because he should have opportunities at the next level.
6’4 Logan Blair (Harding University)
There’s a dying breed of players who legitimately embrace their identity and don’t look to become something completely different, and Logan Blair is among the few. Most folks who understand basketball can appreciate a fluid, athletic, low-maintenance forward prospect with a high motor and willingness to make hustle plays. Blair isn’t going to be the guy who looks to make flashy dribble-combos or take jumpers from the logo, which should make him an immediate target for various types of programs. He is a reliable finisher and consistent threat in transition, but can also knock down perimeter jumpers as needed. While Blair has developed his overall polish and skill, the combination of defense, toughness, and rebounding is what will make him an asset with any collection of teammates.
6’4 Davis Wagner (Lake Norman)
It’s unclear how many (if any) folks really expected the Wildcats to go nearly undefeated during the weekend of NCHSAA play, but Davis Wagner continued to propel this group forward. Although talented, this Lake Norman roster doesn’t have a clear identity outside of Coach Hodges and their patented Riptide scheme. However, Wagner has been patiently waiting for his time to emerge. He’s now equipped to lead a team on both ends of the floor after playing up a level with the original Riptide since their founding. Wagner offers a strong interior presence, both as a finisher and rebounder, with the ability to space the floor at an efficient rate. He’s also a useful passer and rugged defender with a desire to do the dirty work whenever possible. Wagner should have opportunities arise over the coming months.
6’5 Josh Scovens (Page)
Arguably the strangest situation of anyone on this list, Josh Scovens still holds zero offers despite generating buzz amongst college coaches whenever he enters a gym. Between his size, skillset, and guaranteed leap in production, it seems like scholarship-level programs are accumulating their assets and simply preparing for war over the wing/forward. The newly condition leader of the Pirates displays a highly useful, polished inside-out game with quality skill for his size. Scovens maintained his strong foundation as an interior piece while developing his creation ability effectively over the last calendar year. Now, he’s simply a matchup problem for most opponents. Add in his IQ, rebounding instincts, and sheer nose for the ball, and it’s easy to see the appeal surrounding Scovens. Expect to see numerous programs vying for his services.
6’2 TJ Ragland (Henderson Collegiate)
Few programs in the state have experienced as much roster turnover as Henderson Collegiate over the last few years. With the losses of guys like Kalib Matthews, Javonte Waverly, and Akhiris Holden, it only seems like a surefire bet to expect an uptick in TJ Ragland’s recruitment and overall production. Not only will he assume leadership responsibilities, but the tough, heady, athletic guard prospect will be tasked with dictating their offensive attack on a nightly basis. Fortunately, Ragland has shown the necessary ability to accomplish this task. Throughout the summer, he has been excellent at getting downhill and finishing or accessing his reliable midrange pull-up from the elbows. Ragland is a capable defender, rebounder, and playmaker who should end up in the collegiate ranks after another quality season.