At the beginning of each new year, Phenom Hoops works to assemble a series of articles centered around unsigned senior prospects. Last season, over a hundred players from North Carolina went on to play at the Division I, II, III, or NAIA levels, and that number looks likely to continue increasing with the current senior class. Typically, we take a closer look at guys who are overlooked and underrated, and today's edition will highlight Corey Gaines of Gaston Christian.

We've seen Gaines numerous times in every possible setting, and even stated prior to the season, 'Between his time at Chambers and Gaston Christian, folks should already know about Gaines and everything he brings to the table. He's a tough, scrappy, high-motor guard prospect who hits jumpers at a high volume and understands how to effectively set the tone on both ends of the floor. Gaines clearly stood out as a leader for this group, dictating the offense, creating for others, and consistently overwhelming his assignment on defense. While he doesn't possess a ton of size, Gaines is the type of smart, rugged, team-oriented player who will win a lot of games at the next level.'

Since then, Gaines has only further solidified his status as a prospect worthy of attention and offers from college coaches. This season, he's posting nightly averages of 13.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.6 APG, and 2.7 SPG while shooting 54% from the floor and 73% from the line (including 66% on two-point attempts). Additionally, Gaines is an exceptional leader on both ends of the floor. His grit and toughness are such an important part of his identity, as it directly correlates within his lockdown defensive presence and ability to consistently play through contact. Gaines is a reliable scorer with the necessary quickness and penetration instincts to touch the paint and make plays at a strong rate. He displays a nice change of pace off the bounce, which allows him to keep opponents on their heels at all times. Gaines is a quality midrange threat and capable three-point shooter who finishes really well around the basket, especially for his size. He also rebounds the ball well for his size, makes hustle plays whenever possible, and understands how to outwork his assignment on either side of the ball. Gaines simply contributes to winning. He should be pursued by a variety of different college programs.