On Saturday, Phenom Hoops traveled to The Burlington School to see the hometown Spartans host a very talented United Faith Christian squad. We’ve seen both of these squads multiple times throughout the current season, but there was certainly no clear-cut favorite entering this contest. The Burlington School has an excellent five-to-six-man rotation where everyone understands their role perfectly, but they lack true depth and are forced to rely on the consistency of their core group. Conversely, United Faith has the opposite problem, where they arguably have too many guys worthy of being on the court. Either way, the small gym in Burlington was nearly at capacity and both teams looked ready for battle.
This contest opened in a hurry, as both teams appeared to be pushing the pace in an attempt to separate themselves early. The Burlington School can really thrive at any type of pace; they are extremely patient in the half-court and are willing to toggle through multiple sets to get quality looks, but also apply phenomenal pressure in transition. United Faith performs better at a faster pace, as it plays to the strengths of their long, skilled, athletes at nearly every position. These two teams maintained a one-possession game for three and a half quarters, but then The Burlington School appeared to have things closed out, as they led by seven with under four minutes left to play. However, the tides completely turned. The Burlington School began making simple miscues and United Faith seemed to capitalize on every single one, which led to the onslaught from Chris Hill and Marcus Henderson down the stretch. United Faith claims victory over The Burlington School by a score of 70-64.
6’2 ’19 Marcus Henderson
There were a lot of contributors for United Faith, but Henderson was arguably the most important, as he simply came alive in crunch time and solidified himself as a reliable leader when a game is on the line. In the closing minutes, he knocked down multiple big shots, including two three-pointers in succession and even caused a massive on-ball turnover that would play a major part in this result. Evansville will certainly be getting a quality two-way guard in Henderson. Final stats: 20 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.
6’7 ’19 Sam Wolfe
Though Hill and Henderson were absolutely vital down the stretch, United Faith wouldn’t have even been in this contest if it weren’t for Wolfe and his three-point shooting. From the opening tip, they did an excellent job of establishing him as a pick-and-pop threat and utilized that avenue to score multiple important buckets. Wolfe knows how to embrace his role and typically doesn’t force the action on either end of the floor. Final stats: 17 points.
6’2 ’20 Ford Cooper
The newest addition to this United Faith squad continues to look better and more comfortable with each passing day. Cooper scored the ball efficiently, but mainly focused on setting up the offense and getting his teammates involved. He displayed a pretty well-rounded approach throughout this contest, but struggled with foul trouble at times. It’ll be interesting to see how Cooper performs for the remainder of the season, as he’s one of the most naturally talented players on this roster. Final stats: 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.
6’6 ’20 Josh Massey
The long, rangy wing prospect is one of the more intriguing players in North Carolina, given his overall skillset and approach. Massey likes to establish himself as a shooter and typically does so, as few opposing wings are equipped to defend such length on the perimeter. He sets up early and releases quickly, giving opponents literally no chance at blocking his jumper. Massey is a quality athlete, but didn’t apply much interior pressure during this contest and still put his imprints on this game. Final stats: 12 points and 2 rebounds.
The Burlington School:
6’6 ’21 Ja’Dun Michael
There’s a legitimate argument for Michael to be the top-ranked player in North Carolina’s Class of 2021. He’s a true two-way leader that can be the focal point of an offense while defending the best player on the opposing team. Michael scores the ball so easily and offers an impeccable balance from three levels. He takes advantage of available mismatches whenever possible and maintains phenomenal unselfishness on offense. Michael is a quality athlete with great instincts and intelligence, which allows him to create for others or take over at any given time. He was the best prospect and player for either team. Folks need to be taking Michael more seriously, as high-majors should begin expressing interest in the coming months. Final stats: 16 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 block.
5’11 ’19 Michael Wade
In terms of unsigned seniors that should be heavily coveted within North Carolina, Wade should be atop that list. He’s been spectacular for The Burlington School all season long and continued to further solidify himself as a scholarship-worthy prospect. He’s so blindingly-quick with the ball, which allowed him to get effortlessly get downhill and into the paint. Wade also possesses fantastic end-to-end speed and should be considered among the fastest guys in the state. Wade was phenomenal throughout this contest and made the most impressive play of the entire game: the ball starts to bounce towards the baseline (certainly heading for a turnover) and he literally dives and somehow made a touch pass to the corner for an open spot-up shooter. College coaches, please start taking notice of this floor general. Final stats: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
6’9 ’20 Mylyjael Poteat
Our last viewing of the big man left us wanting more, as he struggled with foul trouble and was forced to the bench for most of the game. That being said, Poteat was great in this showing. He consistently fought for rebounds and utilized his strong body to clear out space on the glass. Poteat displayed excellent touch around the basket and was easily the most impactful interior player for either team. He protected the rim quite well and does a really solid job of “walling-up” instead of swatting for blocks. Final stats: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 steal.
6’3 ’20 Ji’Lil Michael
This team has clearly defined roles and positions for each of their guys, but Michael is a guy that’s capable of stepping up and outplaying the expectation set for him. He rebounds really well for a guard/wing and can effectively score on all three levels, though his three-point shot is probably his most reliable area of attack. Michael has a quality frame and sees the floor fairly well. His numbers aren’t necessarily eye-popping, but his production was incredibly valuable during this game. College coaches should look at Michael as a scholarship-level prospect going forward. Final stats: 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists.