Last week, Phenom Hoops hosted our annual Holiday Classic at Cox Mill High School for a three-day stretch of exciting basketball matchups. The event featured eight of the state’s top programs (public and private) in bracket play, and several more for showcase games. Among those on display, North Mecklenburg’s ladies team quietly stood out as one of the more memorable squads in attendance. Their 52-44 victory halted a seven-game winning streak for Ragin Bulls, yet it feels like the Lady Vikings are just beginning to hit their stride as a group. It’s worth noting that this roster is loaded with college-level talent. Girls like Boston Bates, Shannon Hoover, Sahley Reid, and countless other veterans should be obvious targets for coaches. However, this article will take a closer look at their young freshman duo of 6’0 Lenise Joseph and 5’7 Morgan Knox.

In looking at Joseph, it’s already easy to be entranced by her combination of notable physical tools and blossoming skillset. Joseph possesses excellent size with the necessary length, strength, and mobility to naturally overwhelm opponents on both ends of the floor. She’s an incredible rebounder and defender with impressive timing as a rim-protector. Joseph blocks shots at a high volume, runs the floor hard in transition, and applies consistent pressure as an interior scorer. No rebound or loose ball is safe from her grasp. She finishes well with either hand around the basket, but can also knock down open midrange jumpers at a solid rate. Joseph is already very productive with the intangibles, leadership traits, and long-term upside to be one of the top prospects in the country.

On the other side, Knox showcased a lot of appeal as a young two-way floor general. She’s smart, rugged, and unselfish, which is seemingly the perfect blend of traits to be a tone-setter for this group. Knox is a poised creator and reliable playmaker who utilizes her quickness and tight handle to touch the paint on a frequent basis. She’s a quality finisher and passer who makes great decisions with the ball in her hands. Knox displayed the ability to knock down jumpers as needed, but prioritizes getting others involved as often as possible. Defensively, she’s a real problem for opposing guards at the point of attack. Knox’s physical approach and pure instincts allows her to suffocate opponents and force turnovers with relative ease. She’s also a useful rebounder for her size/position. Knox is going to emerge as a major target for college coaches.

Though this group definitely has all the pieces to compete for a state championship this season, it’s easy to get excited about the future. They’ll only graduate two seniors after this season (Bates and Chelsea Rivera), which only gives their young foundation more time to develop chemistry and progress as individuals. Therefore, folks shouldn’t be surprised when Coach Jennifer Baker’s squad continues to grow as one of the top title-contenders in the state.