Given the way basketball has trended over the last decade or so, versatility has become more valuable than ever—especially at the highest levels of play. Sure, there were older players like Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and even Anthony Mason among countless others who embraced versatility before it became popular. However, it’s gradually become a necessity for a successful modernized brand of basketball. For example, the European/International game is oozing with versatility. While someone like Andrei Kirilenko might come to mind, this applies to less notable players as well—like Andres Nocioni or Boris Diaw. That being said, this trend has found its way onto the high school scene and directly applies to numerous players. Let’s take a closer look at some…
6’8 Nate Brafford (Rabun Gap/Team Swish)
While everyone on this list possesses true versatility, Nate Brafford is arguably in an offensive grouping of his own. He’s always been extremely skilled for his size and highlights capabilities with the ball in his hands that others simply do not. Dating back to our first viewing at Tennessee 150 Camp, Brafford was already turning heads with his unique ability to grab rebounds, push the break, and make intelligent decisions as a legitimate playmaker and shot-creator. His vision and willingness to set up others stood out as much as his efficient three-level scoring prowess. Thankfully, Division I programs have started to believe in Brafford and his incredible body of work by extending scholarship offers.
6’7 Avion Pinner (Riverside-Martin/Team Loaded)
Although the previous name might have the most offensive versatility, it would be difficult to find many players more versatile and switchable than Avion Pinner. He’s long, mobile, and athletic with rebounding instincts and sharp anticipation for weak-side blocks or intercepting passing lanes. Pinner can actively toggle between all positions defensively, and should have no issue containing (at least) three positions at a high level within the college ranks. He’s excellent in the open floor, makes smart decisions with or without the ball in his hands, and has continued to show clear improvements over the recent months. Kudos to East Carolina, but the fact that Pinner holds just a single offer is an absolute travesty.
6’7 Davis Molnar (Terry Sanford/Team Wall)
Each prospect on this list should be recruited at the Division I level, but it seems like coaches and spectators alike are still trying to figure out Davis Molnar. His offer sheet of Campbell, Elon, Ole Miss, and Bucknell is easily among the most unique of anyone in North Carolina. However, it’s fitting, given Molnar’s nightly averages of 16.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 6.4 APG, 2.4 SPG, and 1.6 BPG with shooting splits of 57/39/76. Regardless of situational context, no other player is putting up that type of production. In looking beyond his on-paper numbers, Molnar remains a very difficult matchup for opposing forwards. Despite already holding more offers than everyone listed, expect his scholarship count to continue rising.
6’7 Cinque Lemon (Cape Fear Christian/Team Loaded)
While each of the previous three has clear distinctions regarding their versatility, one could argue that Cinque Lemon offers the most balanced all-around identity. Being a legitimate wing with IQ, size, skill, and athleticism should already have a slew of programs vying for his services. Add in his ability and understanding to effectively operate within various different roles and positions, and Lemon is easily among the state’s more underrated prospects based on recruitment. As the two-way leader for Cape Fear Christian, Lemon averaged 16.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.1 APG with shooting splits of 55/38/63. Since the season concluded, he’s arguably taken his game to another level with Team Loaded. Expect his recruitment to take off sooner than later.
6’6 Mikhail Pocknett (Ashley/WBC Elite)
Likely the least-known player on this list, Mikhail Pocknett is currently soaring under the radar and seems likely to become a steal for a college program. For Ashely High School, he can be found setting the tone as a leader on either end of the floor. Pocknett posted averages of 14.3 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.0 SPG, and 1.0 BPG with 59% from the floor. He’s strong, physical, and athletic enough to make his presence consistently felt from inside the paint but also smart and skilled enough to reliably run the team as an offensive centerpiece. Though folks are still catching on, expect Pocknett to quietly emerge as one of the more underrated prospects within North Carolina.