Often times, balance is the recipe for success in the game of basketball—particularly at the high school level. It’s become somewhat of a rarity at all levels during the modern era, but there are still plenty of programs who subscribe to this approach. But why is this mentality so underutilized? Well, simply because having three of the top five players on the court is sexier and easier than trying to design a style to fit with specific personnel. Think about the NBA, where the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons (and possibly the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks) were truly the last team(s) to actually win a title with the balanced mindset. However, Wayne Country Day (14-2) is currently finding a ton of success and balance has been an obviously vital factor.
Unsurprisingly, it all starts with the backcourt of 6’0 ’22 Mike Best and 6’2 ’21 Jaden Cooper (Columbia signee). Best often dictates the action with the ball in his hands while Cooper effortlessly highlights his terrific two-way leadership by example. Both guys offer an excellent balance between playmaking and three-level scoring, which allows them to actively toggle between roles and operate as interchangeable ball-handlers for this group. Cooper is long, tough, intelligent, and offers a well-rounded skillset, which should allow him to quickly fight for minutes upon arriving at Columbia. Meanwhile, Best has solidified himself as an overlooked prospect within North Carolina’s Class of 2022—at least in regards to college coaches. He’s seamlessly transitioned from a pure scoring guard to a legitimate floor general equipped with scoring prowess. Given the wait for previous guys like Shykeim Phillips, John Michael Wright, Zavian McLean, and various others, one should expect Best to see a massive uptick in recruitment over the next calendar year.
Although the previous pair is likely considered the “backcourt” for this team, guys like 6’0 ’21 Carlos Raven and 6’2 ’23 Jordan Cooper also find themselves as major pieces for the Chargers. Raven genuinely exudes production and does not receive enough attention for his incredible consistency. He’s a smart, shifty, well-rounded guard with an extremely adaptable skillset and the ability to apply constant pressure from all three levels. Raven can assume ball-handling duties, set up others with ease, or assert himself as a two-way pest for opponents. He should have various types of programs in pursuit. As for the younger Cooper, there should already be a lot of optimism in place. Not only has he already found solid production within a talented, veteran-laden roster, but his 54% three-point percentage is the second-highest mark throughout North Carolina (of players who have made at least 18 three-pointers). It’s early, but Cooper looks likely to earn the keys to the car as early as next season.
Last but certainly not least, 6’8 ’21 HowVante Hutcherson stands as arguably the most productive guy on the entire roster—largely thanks to his two-way dominance on the glass. He’s a big, strong, sturdy interior presence with soft touch and great understanding of how to properly position himself as a screener and rebounder. Hutcherson utilizes his body extremely well around the basket for finishes, rebounds, and altering shots as a defensive anchor. His rebounding numbers definitely pop, ranking third in total rebounds per game, fourth in defensive rebounds per game, and fifth in offensive rebounds per game throughout the state. Between his tools, sheer production, and time with Team CP3 last summer, it’s very shocking that Hutcherson doesn’t have more going on within his recruitment—though that should change sooner than later.
All in all, this fivesome has been nothing short of spectacular about halfway through their schedule. They’ve operated as an actual unit, which has led to team success and impressive individual stat totals across the board. Let’s take a closer look at their nightly averages …
- Cooper: 16.7 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 6.8 APG, 1.8 SPG with 64/48/76 shooting splits.
- Best: 17.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 7.0 APG, 2.3 SPG with 63/47/73 shooting splits.
- Raven: 14.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.0 APG, 2.6 SPG with 72/54/77 shooting splits.
- Hutcherson: 11.7 PPG and 12.7 RPG with 76% FG
- Cooper: 9.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.9 SPG with 60/54/76 shooting splits.
Although not a ton of people have the Chargers’ name in circulation, they are looking more and more likely to end up as strong competitors for the 2A NCISAA State Championship rapidly approaching in March. Additionally, college coaches should have no pause or hesitation about recruiting this team—as there are numerous players worth advancing to the next level.