At the beginning of each new year, Phenom Hoops works to assemble a series of articles centered around unsigned senior prospects. Last season, over one 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 Anjay Cortez of United Faith Christian and Team Charlotte.
Versatility has become increasingly valuable over the last five to ten years in basketball, which should make someone like Cortez even more enticing at the collegiate level. He’s somewhat of a utility player with the ability to do a little bit of everything and affect the action on both ends of the floor. Cortez has a knack for rebounds, accumulating weak-side blocks, and forcing turnovers through anticipation by jumping into passing lanes, which often leads to easy fast-break opportunities. He utilizes his length and athleticism exceptionally well when attacking the basket but has also shown the ability to knock down perimeter jumpers when necessary.
We’ve seen Cortez with United Faith, Team Charlotte, and at multiple camps, including at our last NC Top 80, where we stated: “Next, we look at a player that possesses an abundance of tools and phenomenal long-term upside, Anjay Cortez. He’s a long, wiry forward prospect that can operate in a variety of different roles and find success. Cortez is a quality slasher and cutter without the ball (which is his most effective scoring method), but can also knock down the occasional perimeter jumper. He has an excellent frame and utilizes his length nicely when rebounding or defending the point of attack. Cortez has a solid feel, athleticism, and makes a lot of plays in transition. Next in his development process is working to become a craftier ball-handler, as it would allow him to create more reliably for himself and others. Coach Roberson on Cortez: “Anjay is super long and excellent in transition. He can knock down the three-pointer with time and space. He can post his man, but needs to improve at finishing in traffic. Anjay seemed to tire easily and lost sight of his man off the ball at times.” Cortez could be poised to breakout over this next calendar year, so we’ll be monitoring his progression closely going forward.”
Over the past year, Cortez has continued to embrace his identity and overall skillset as a glue-guy on both ends of the floor. He was arguably one of the most consistently productive players for a talent-laden United Faith team this past season, and didn’t even necessarily need to score incredible point totals to do so. There should be an obvious amount of appeal for a player that can still post numbers across all statistical categories without constantly requiring the ball in his hands. Scholarship-level coaches should be in heavy pursuit of Cortez, especially during this late recruiting period, and will ultimately get a low-maintenance contributor in the process.