By Jon Marks PHILADELPHIA — A new team, new city, new culture — and best of all, a new baby. Life couldn’t be much better these days for Omri Casspi, the only native Israeli currently playing in the National Basketball Association. Continue reading “As only Israeli in NBA, Omri Casspi tries to be ‘best ambassador’ he can”
The U.S. Census Bureau statistics (2009) report that over 24 million Americans play basketball and over 10 million Americans play volleyball. Did you know basketball and volleyball were invented by instructors at the Young Men’s Christian Association – YMCA? Continue reading “The YMCA’s great history: More than just basketball”
After a surprisingly slow start to the 2017-18 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held a lengthy team meeting on Tuesday to address their struggles. The Cavaliers (3-4) have struggled on the defensive end through their first seven games of the season as they currently rank 27th in the NBA after giving up 109.8 points per 100 possessions. Continue reading “Cleveland Cavaliers hold “air-it-out” meeting”
Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz will miss the next three games due to discomfort in his right shoulder, the team announced Wednesday. Fultz, who was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 draft, will miss Wednesday’s home game against Houston as well as road contests versus the Dallas Mavericks (Saturday) and Rockets (Monday). Continue reading “Sixers rookie Fultz to miss three games”
Australia’s “sleeping giant” National Basketball League launches its 40th season next month with ambitious plans of supplanting cricket as the sports-mad country’s number one summer game. NBL owner Larry Kestelman, who is looking to cash in on the record number of Australians starring in the NBA, said there had never been a better time for the… Continue reading “Move over cricket, basketball has big plans in Australia”
ATTENTION! Just making sure whoever is reading this doesn’t miss this part. 8th grade is too soon to project a player for the college level, at least for the most part. Unless they are extraordinary, it probably isn’t ideal to make a projection. I understand that. With that being said again, don’t expect a projection in this player intro. However, don’t be shocked to hear plenty about this kid in middle school this year and in high school every year until he graduates in 2021.
Cole Gilbert is a 13 year old 6’7” (for now) 8th grader that attends Ocracoke Middle School in Ocracoke, NC. It’s a relatively small island on the coast. It’s typically known as a great vacation and tourist spot. However, it isn’t often that a kid with such immense size, work ethic and potential comes along in such a small area as such. Gilbert will be one to track in Ocracoke over the years to come.
On the court, as the case is with most young big men, Cole is raw. However, his knowledge of the game is there, his mentality to strive to be great is there and his work ethic is impeccable. Coach DeAngelo Spruill of Garner Road likes what he has seen from Gilbert during competition. “Cole is a big boy! He’s a willing worker, has decent footwork and he doesn’t quit. Has a work ethic.” said Spruill when asked his thoughts of Cole.
Ocracoke isn’t known as a hoops hotbed. However, over the past couple of years current high school Coach Dave Allewalt and a slew of others have been doing a wonderful job building up the sports programs on the island starting with the youth. Cole is one of those kids who has come up in the program and has been working extremely hard on his game and adjusting to his body. He could certainly in time make his mark and bring more attention to a growing Ocracoke basketball program.
He’s currently sporting a size 16.5 shoe, just 13 years young and rapidly growing. Size, youth and a great work ethic typically make for an excellent post prospect in due time. It’s going to be fun watching the development of Cole over these next few years. Remember the name.
You read it here first.
This is the 2nd of what will be 5 installments of the “A Way Too Early Intro” series. Stay tuned.
Yes. 8th grade is too soon to project a player. I hear you and I understand clearly. Making projections of kids in middle school is out of bounds and too soon. I get it. Now, with that being said, don’t expect a projection in this introduction. However, you can expect to hear plenty about this kid in middle school this year and in high school every year until he graduates in 2021.
Dontrez Styles attends Woodington Middle School in Kinston, NC. He is currently standing at 6’4” inches tall, with plenty of room to continue growing. He has good size for the wing, good length, budding athleticism and plenty of skill to compliment his size on the wing. Potential is there to develop into a productive player early on once he makes it to high school.
During the AAU season with Kinston Heat, he played up at several tourneys and showed the ability to create off the dribble, knock down shots, rebound the ball, get to the rim and used his length defensively to bother shooters. He did quite a bit of growing over the summer as well, so it will be interesting to see how his body has adjusted when the middle school season comes around.
His main strength right now would be his shooting ability. However, it’s apparent he’s had good coaching, because he doesn’t fall in love with his jump-shot as most young players tend to do at his size. Styles makes it an issue to attack the basket, mixes it up off the dribble and he gets after it on the glass. Some key things to improve on would be his ability to read defenses aimed to frustrate him and of course continuing to improve his rapidly growing body frame over the next few years.
Remember the name for future references. All of the tools are there for him to become a high level prospect over the next 5 years. If he continues to work hard, improve and produce, the sky is the limit. It’s going to be fun to watch how he progresses.
You read it here first.
This is the first of what will be 5 installments of the “A Way Too Early Intro” series. Stay tuned.
All photo credits belong to Buds Photography.
Rest assured, the Class of 2019 in NC has the potential to be an excellent class from top to bottom in terms of college level prospects. From point guards to post players, this class is loaded with potential high level players and there will undoubtedly be some sleepers as well. I’ve listed (in no particular order) a few players that caught my eye as freshmen competing for their respective high school teams and in AAU competition. Lock these names into the back of your minds.
(Name, High School, Height, Weight, Position)
Note: This list is not compiled in any specific order.
Tarik Adams, KIPP Pride, 6’2” 165, PG/SG
As a freshman competing on the junior varsity for KIPP Pride HS, Adams showed some serious game. He dominated the competition, averaging over 27 points per game and displaying strong court vision as well. Over the summer, Adams really begin developing his body and was developing his athleticism before an injury shut him down for the remainder of the AAU season. However, he’s expected to make a full recovery and should undoubtedly put college coaches on notice in the next few seasons.
Dominique Morse, Spring Creek, 6’0” 160, PG
Morse is an extremely athletic sophomore guard. He’s a multi-sport athlete and it shows on the court with his toughness and will. In his freshman season competing on the varsity team, Morse had several 20 point 10 rebound games despite playing the guard position. He was one of a few freshmen that saw big minutes for his high school team and should only continue to improve each season. Intrigue is there. He displays fundamentals, soft shooting touch and an overall solid feel for the game. Definitely worth tracking.
Imajae Dodd, Greene Central, 6’7” 200, PF
Imajae has all the makings of a big-time prospect despite being such a young sophomore. As a freshman he showed flashes of a young agile post that can play well above the rim and create off the dribble in spurts. He also displayed a surprisingly soft touch on his jump-shot. Defensively, he gets physical and has solid timing when it comes to blocking shots and rebounding. He possesses uncommon athleticism for a player with his combination of size and youth. Colleges have already taken notice of his talent in route to him earning several D1 offers over the summer. Should gain more as the season rolls along.
Dericko Williams, Kinston, 6’7” 185, PF
Dericko is the definition of an elite run and jump athlete. Arguably one of the most athletic players in the state. Williams was able to show off his athleticism with Kinston High School in the ECI tourney held in Jacksonville, NC this summer. He was all over the court showing tons of energy on both ends. Crashes the glass, protects the rim and gets out in transition for electric slam dunk finishes. Despite being relatively raw, his athleticism alone should allow him to have an impact as a sophomore. Has shown to have a solid work ethic, so he could very well develop into a high level prospect.
Shyquan Jones, Pope John Paul, 6’4” 170 SG
Pope John Paul HS in Greenville, NC has a hidden gem in Shyquan Jones. He was able to quietly average over 24 points per game despite being double and triple teamed consistently. Jones possesses great natural basketball instincts, a tightening handle, a great frame for a wing and wiry strength. Should college coaches begin making their way down to Greenville, NC to see for themselves, don’t be shocked to see Shyquan earn several Division 1 offers before his junior season. Should have another dominate season at Pope John Paul HS.
Darryl McCaster, James Kenan, 6’0” 160 PG
After a highly successful stint on the junior varsity team as a freshman, McCaster was moved up to the varsity where he would then lead his James Kenan HS varsity team in scoring as a freshman. He showed a natural ability to create for himself and others and proved to be a clutch performer knocking down several last second shots as a frosh. In a prime position to help guide his team to the top of their conference this season, providing scoring, defense and an uncanny ability to make shots.
Marcotis Hall, Kestrel Heights, 6’4” 165 SF
Marcotis plays the game of basketball with a great confidence and displays a high IQ. In the mid-range area is where he’s most dangerous. Hall is able to elevate over most defenders and shows a quick release on his jumper coupled with some crafty moves from the triple-threat position. In the post, when guarded by taller and longer players, he uses a variety of pump fakes, spin moves and some solid footwork to create space for himself to get a good shot. Being that he is the 2nd leading returning scorer, he’s primed to have a jump in his production and could really make some noise this season with Kestrel Heights in a bigger role.
Damian Dunn. Kinston, 6’5” 185 SG/PG
Damian Dunn (along with Imajae Dodd) really made a name for himself this summer on the AAU circuit playing with Stackhouse Elite as well as with his Kinston HS team as a frosh. He already showed flashes of a versatile player capable of playing multiple positions and scoring at each spot during his freshman season. His game is rounding out, displaying an array of hesitation moves, good shooting form and patience. He doesn’t force the issue. Should he continue growing, getting stronger and scoring at every level, he could become a high level recruit in absolutely no time at all. Holds several Division 1 offers with growing interest.
Donte Johnson, Greene Central, 6’5” 190, SF
Donte is loaded with potential. A lefty, Donte showed many flashes as a freshman that he could in time become a long, athletic and savvy do it all wing. Naturally, Donte crashes the glass strong and runs the floor hard to get easy transition scores. In the half-court setting, he gets good post position, digging into his defender and showing a target. Once he has the ball in the post or on the perimeter, he’s adept at making quick moves to the basket once he receives the ball. Also has a very quick second leap on rebounding attempts. Should have a much larger role this season as a sophomore due to the graduation of six seniors.
Marcus Harrison, Southern Vance, 5’10” 150, SG
Marcus is an athletic natural-born scorer. Despite being undersized for the position, he’s extremely hard to stop due to his natural ability to find the right spots on and off the ball coupled with his ability to make all types of shots from all over the court. This kid flat out knows how to play and how to score. He’s one of the leading returning scorers for sophomores in the state after averaging 16.5 points and 6.5 rebounds as a freshman for his Southern Vance Raiders. Don’t be surprised to see his name among scoring leaders in NC this season and in years to follow.
Over the course of the past few months, I had the opportunity to keep tabs on a few rising juniors on the eastern side of NC. Several of these players showed much improvement over the course of this year and have undoubtedly worked their way into bigger roles for the up and coming season. I also received tips on a few of these players and they have proven to be diamonds in the rough. Each player listed below has the skill, worth ethic and potential to become a productive student-athlete at the college level. Special thanks to Rod Bridgers and Tre Cordon for making sure I was aware of several of these outstanding kids.
(Name, High School, Height, Weight, Position)
(2015-2016 Season Statistics)
Note: This list is not compiled in any specific order.
Jadakis Bonds, Riverside (Martin) HS, 6’4” 175 SG/SF
(11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block)
Not many players improved over the summer as much as Bonds. He has shown a much improved jump-shot, handle, passing ability, defensive mechanics and physique. Colleges will without a doubt be keeping tabs on him this season. Could break out as the leader of what has the makings of a very strong team this season. Standing at 6’4”, he possesses good height, athleticism, length, a high basketball IQ and tons of confidence at the shooting guard position. Still relatively unknown, he should undoubtedly attract some serious college attention this up and coming season and lead his Riverside HS deep into the playoffs.
Rakilen Butler, Southern Wayne HS, 6’3” 160 PG/SG
(14 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.4 steals)
Rakilen is a quick, shifty point guard capable that can shoot the ball extremely well. He had multiple games in his sophomore season knocking down at least 5 triples. Butler also has sneaky leaping ability enabling him to get past long defenders and grab long rebounds out of position. In the up-coming season, expect to see an increase in his productivity all around the board. If he continues to shoot the ball extremely well, distribute the ball and get stronger, Butler should become a well-known name to many colleges at every level on the east coast.
Kris Wooten, Parrott Academy, 6’2” 170 SG
(16 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 40% 3pt shooting)
Wooten is arguably one of the best pure shooters in all of NC. Has an effortless jump-shot from mid-range and from the three point line. Is comfortable shooting off the dribble and off the catch. Shows a surprisingly slick handle that enables him to consistently get into the paint where his innate ability to finish around the rim wreaks havoc on defenses. Will not be shocked to see a 20+ per game season with solid all around statistics to follow. Has also shown a revamped body while providing glimpses of rapidly improving athleticism. Will be fun to track as the season goes on.
Tyzhaun Claude, Cox Mill HS, 6’7” 190 PF/C
(10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks)
Tyzhaun is a young and solid wide-bodied post. He doesn’t venture too far away from the basket, for good reason. He has a soft touch in the mid-range capacity and creates ample space in the paint using minimal dribbles, drop-steps and finishing strong around rim. Very fundamental post player that doesn’t try overdo anything. Sets good screens, hustles and doesn’t back down from anyone. Makes the smart and simple plays on both ends. (Competed for Goldsboro HS in 2015-2016 Season)
Freddie Taylor, New Hanover HS, 5’8” 150 PG
(11 points, 8 assists, 4 steals, 4:1 ast/to ratio}
One of the best floor generals in the NC 2018 class. Freddie has one of the best pure handles in the state. Very shifty and crafty ball-handler that commands a team offense and makes defenders think twice about trying to get physical with him. Underrated jump-shooter. Knocks shots down from the perimeter off the dribble and coming off screens. Defensively, gets a ton of steals with his pressure defense. Can really frustrate ball-handlers and make them second guess themselves. Colleges that are more concerned about skill and production rather than size will love Freddie.
Jareem Lovette, James Kenan HS, 6’6” 185 SF/PF
(6.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks)
Jareem has loads of potential. As a sophomore he had his ups and downs, but showed many flashes of potential to become a solid wing/post player. He gets out in transition and finishes well above the rim. When he operates on the wing he is capable of beating his man with two or three dribbles using either hand and can finish with either hand as well. Entering into his junior season, if Jareem shows more of a willingness to attack the basket and utilizes his size more, he could present a unique matchup problem for his opposition night in and night out.
Nico Barnes, Tarboro HS, 6’7” 180 PF/SF
(17 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks)
Barnes is a post player that coaches would be wise to keep tabs on. Standing close to 6’8” he hustles, does the dirty work, runs the floor well and can knock down three-pointers at a solid clip. Defensively he’s much of the same, staying active and using his length to disrupt shots. He has all of the tools to be a dynamic all-around player. He’s still young as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him grow a few more inches. It may be just a matter of time before colleges start sneaking their way to his games this season to see what he’s all about.
Janari Hill, Jones Senior HS, 5’9” 150 PG
(16 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 2.4 steals)
Hill is a great example of a confident and savvy player. Despite his size, he was able to lead his Jones Senior team to a 19-9 record as a sophomore and looks to continue building on that success in the up and coming season. Janari is an extremely quick and crafty lead guard that loves to attack and finish in the paint. He has a streaky outside shot, but keeps defenses honest. Uses fakes well to get defenders in the air and dishes the ball to open shooters.
Trevon Spencer, Columbia HS, 6’3” 165 SG
(13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 38% 3 point shooting)
Expect to hear a ton about this kid this season. Spencer is an ELITE athlete that will undoubtedly provide several highlight reel dunks this season. Using his quick first step, long arms and shifty handle, he gets to the rim very often and finishes strong. Defensively, he’s quick on his feet and plays passing lanes really well. He’s also an underrated shooter, very capable of getting hot and going on big scoring runs. With the graduation of 8 seniors (including their top 3 leading scorers), Spencer will be counted on to carry the bulk of the load for his Columbia HS team. (Averaged 23 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists during his stint on the junior varsity)
Andreas Wilson, Louisburg HS, 6’0” 170 SG/PG
(20 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2.3 steals)
Expect to see this name amongst the top scoring leaders this upcoming season in NC. With the graduation of three key seniors, he will definitely be counted on to take on a bigger scoring load and become more of a ball-handler. This kid flat out knows how to score the ball, rebounds exceptionally well for a guard and makes shots from all over. Has a very creative ability to finish as well as very solid leaping ability. East coast colleges should take personal notes and begin their evaluations on him as soon as possible before others take notice.
Clifford Shaw, Northeastern HS, 6’0” 150 PG
(6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 37% 3 point shooting)
Shaw is an interesting point guard prospect. As a sophomore, he played his role very well as a secondary ball handler and as a scorer. He had several strong double digit scoring games for what was a very deep Northeastern High School team that was a game away from a state title birth. Fast forwarding to now, Shaw was able to put up some impressive scoring and shooting numbers in a few summer games while knocking down a high percentage of shots from downtown. Already a proven ball-handler and distributor, should he continue to knock down shots at such a high rate the sky is the limit for this kid and Northeastern HS.
Romeo Jordan, St. Pauls HS, 6’5” 170 SG/SF
(5 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 37% 3 point shooting)
Romeo is a long and crafty wing with loads of potential. While he didn’t put up staggering numbers in the 2015-2016 season, his skill level still was able to shine through, despite splitting minutes with several key upperclassmen that have now graduated. He shows a nice feel for the game and a soft touch from three-point range. His mid-range fade-away jumper looks very comfortable and he’s shown a nice mix of crossover moves. It will be interesting to see if he will put all the pieces of his game together and produce a strong junior season.
Taji Moore, Kinston HS, 6’0” 165 PG
(5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 36% 3 point shooting)
Taji has shown to be a leader. As a sophomore, he struggled to find consistency while splitting minutes for a Kinston HS team that featured 10 seniors. However, he still had multiple games where he caught fire and went on scoring tears knocking down multiple 3’s and getting out in transition. Over the course of this summer, he showed improvement while providing great leadership. Showed good patience while running his team. He communicates very well offensively and defensively, scores the ball and knocks down shots at a high rate. Could be a breakout season coming up.
Ta’Quan White, Plymouth HS, 5’11” 155 PG
(11.5 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals)
White is a crafty and natural born scorer. He uses floaters, step-back dribbles, fade-away jumpers, hesitations and a nice mix of spin moves to create space for his own shot and others. Must note, he has a deadly right to left crossover dribble and also moves very well off the ball. Defensively he has quick hands and good anticipation. Unquestionably should lead his high school team in several categories this up and coming season. Very deep shooting range and must be guarded well past the high school 3 point line. Will drain multiple deep jumpers in a row and takes deep shots without hesitation.
Younes Robidoux, South Central HS, 6’6” 180 PF
(2.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1 block)
Robidoux is a young and long prospect with great upside. Has a good motor, plenty of athleticism and a good skill level for his size. He still will need more time before he begins putting together good games consistently, but he is in a basketball program at South Central HS that typically brings out the best in their young players. Robidoux appears to be very attentive and coachable as well. Keep track of this kid as time goes along.
Liam Caswell, Ocracoke HS, 6’3” 160 PG
(13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.4 steals)
Liam is the younger brother of DIII power Susquehanna University signee, Evin Caswell. Liam is a long and intriguing point guard prospect from Ocracoke Island. Despite coming from a school that had a total of just over 50+ students, he was able to help lead his high school team to their most wins in a season the past 5 years. Liam is a heady ball-handler that does a solid job protecting the ball, getting in the paint and controlling tempo. As a sophomore, he averaged 13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in a secondary role. Since March, he’s hit a growth spurt rising to around 6’3” and retaining the skills he had as a 5’10” sophomore. Liam could possibly reach triple double territory a few times this year. Place him in your players to watch list.
Dontrell Watford, Gates County HS, 6’1” 215 F/G
(15 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block)
Watford is an undersized but efficient post/wing that has quietly been racking up double-doubles two years in a row now at Gates County HS. He’s very strong and uses his body well in the paint to carve out space. Rarely surrenders his position on the block. Dunks the ball with relative ease despite his girth. Bulls his way to the basket in transition while being under control. Should his handle and jump-shot continue to improve, he could become a huge matchup problem, proving to be too quick for bigger defenders and too strong for the typical guard to contain.
Octavius Lacey, Greenfield HS, 6’5” 165 SG/SF
(10 points, 8 rebounds, 1.5 steals)
Long, wiry and bouncy. Lacey is an intriguing wing prospect that could develop into a very strong two way player. He uses his length to disrupt passing lanes and gets out on the fast-break, filling the lanes and throwing down some vicious dunks. Most of his success early on has come from being extremely active on both ends. As a sophomore at Beddingfield he showed several glimpses of a wing capable of affecting the game in a ton of ways even without scoring or having plays ran for him. Has all the intangibles you want from a wing player. Could be primed to breakout at any time next season.
HoopState Sleeper Report Volume 1: Class of 2017
Every year in North Carolina, there are exceptional high school basketball players that slip through the cracks of college recruiting. For example recently in 2012, Chris Flemmings of Cary HS went virtually un-recruited, yet became a star early in his career at Division 2 power Barton College. He would then transfer to UNCW as a walk-on and lead them in scoring in route to an NCAA tournament berth in the 2015-2016 season. Also in 2015, 5’9” freshman point guard Chris Clemons of Millbrook (Raleigh) took Division 1 Big South Conference by storm, leading Campbell University in scoring as a freshman while earning “Freshman of the Year” honors.
Hassan Whiteside from Gastonia, NC burst on the scene at Marshall leading the NCAA in blocked shots as a freshman before re-inventing himself as a double-double machine with the Miami Heat in the NBA. Stephen Curry who went virtually un-recruited out of Charlotte Christian in 2006 dazzled basketball fans around the world during his stint at Davidson, later becoming a lottery pick and the current 2 time NBA Most Valuable Player for the Golden State Warriors. Kent Bazemore, a 2007 sleeper prospect from Bertie HS in NC starred for four years at Old Dominion, and has since developed into a highly productive do-it-all wing for the Atlanta Hawks.
As mentioned before, every year at every level collegiately, there are a few players that slip through the cracks from the state of North Carolina and many of them go on to become highly productive college players. Some of them go even further. If you are a college coach and you love a sleeper prospect, listed below are a few players you may not be too familiar with, but these student-athletes all have the potential and skill to be a diamond in the rough for your program. Be on the lookout for them all this up and coming season.
Name, High School, Height, Weight, Position(s) (Projected Level of Play)
Stats are from 2015-2015 season.
Note: Projected level of play is subjective.
Jaquan Miles, Northampton County HS, 6’6” 190 SG/SF (MM-HM)
31.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 3.1 steals, 1.3 blocks
Jaquan “J.J.’ Miles has generated quite a buzz since January. He “quietly” averaged over 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists last season, garnering 2015-2016 Player of the Year honors in the Two-Rivers 1A Conference. Miles is a 6’6” rangy athlete that can get hot from downtown and has a solid mid-range game as well. He is surprisingly unselfish for such a bigtime scorer, showing a solid passing ability as well. Defensively, when active he’s shown to be a solid defender and an underrated rebounder. He picked up several Division 1 offers this summer and it’s a matter of time before bigger schools start inquiring about him. Expect staggering overall numbers across the board yet again this season and don’t hesitate to take a trip to small Conway, NC and see this kid for yourself.
John Bowen, West Bladen HS, 6’6” 180 SF (LM-D2) *4.3 GPA
12.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.0 steals
Bowen is a long and deceptive athlete that does many things well. After enjoying a solid junior campaign and a solid summer with Flight 22 (AAU), don’t be surprised if he has a breakout senior season, landing a few offers. Bowen can put the ball on the floor, shoot over smaller defenders and drive by taller and bigger defenders. Defensively he can contest many shots on the wing and in the post. He has an opportunity as a senior to become the leader and be a matchup nightmare night in and night out for his West Bladen HS due to his versatile skillset and size. Potential is everything with this kid and if he plays up to it this season, colleges will be all over him.
Don Pigford, Greene Central, 6’4″ 175 SG/SF (D2-NAIA)
10.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.3 blocks
Pigford is a freakishly long and athletic wing. Possesses extraordinary leaping ability and uses his length well to crash the glass for put-backs and defensive boards. Doesn’t need to have many plays ran for him in order to be an effective player. Never really stops moving and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time on both sides of the ball. We could see him stepping into more of a leadership role in his senior season and solidifying himself as a do it all wing, capable of impacting the game in multiple ways. With an improved jump-shot and more evidence of his slashing ability to the basket, Pigford could really grab the attention of several colleges this upcoming season.
Tyree Wiggins, Ayden-Grifton, 6’3” 170 SG/SF (D3-NAIA)
13.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals
Wiggins is a solid knock down shooter, hailing from Ayden-Grifton HS. He is rangy, lengthy and a solid slasher that could be poised to score a bunch of points for his HS team this season. During his junior season, at times he showed that he can really get hot from beyond the arc and pile on points in a hurry. Tyree possesses solid length and has enough quickness and athleticism to be a pesky defender when motivated on the defensive end. If he puts his mind to it, he could have much success in his senior season and attract several college looks before his final high school season concludes.
Devonte Pettaway, North Pitt HS, 6’0” 160 PG (LM-D2) *3.4 GPA
16.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.1 steals
This lead guard from North Pitt flew under the radar last season. Pettaway is a quick, fast, aggressive and confident point guard. He loves getting in the paint for mid-range pull-up jumpers and finishes well around the rim with both his strong hand and his off hand. He has an underrated court vision and a slick handle that keeps defenders off balance. He’s very good student in the classroom and college coaches should be making quite a few trips to check this kid out this season. With him at the lead guard position, North Pitt has the all pieces necessary to make a deep run in the state playoffs this year. He brings the toughness, grit and IQ to his team that all coaches love from their point guard.
Markell Freeman, Riverside (Martin) HS, 6’6” 185 SF/PF (D2-LM)
13.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 1.6 blocks
Do not be surprised if Riverside makes a deep run in the state playoffs this up and coming season. Markell Freeman will be a huge reason if they go far. Listed at 6’6”, he brings versatility on both ends, above average athleticism and a strong basketball IQ to his Riverside (Martin) HS team. Defensively, he plays passing lanes well, blocks weak-side shots, moves his feet well along the perimeter and draws a bevy of charges. Offensively, he’s sneaky in the post. He has a quick first step and finishes well at or around the rim. With his size, athleticism and versatility, Markell has a chance to become an excellent player at the next level.
Zion Jackson, KIPP Pride, 6’3” 170 SG/PG (D2-LM)
11.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.3 steals
Don’t let the numbers fool you. Zion is a very capable and productive wing who played through a shortened junior season at KIPP Pride on the 2015-2016 season. As a sophomore, Jackson was a solid 18 point game scorer that contributed evenly across the board. Expect him to return to his previous form in his senior season and play his way into serious college considerations. KIPP isn’t known much for their athletics programs, but if you are a college coach that loves finding diamonds in the rough, here is the perfect opportunity to do so. Zion is a solid athlete with good length and a ton of potential to become a jack of all trades player at the next level offensively and defensively.
Tyler Maye, Farmville Central HS, 6’1” 170 PG (MM-LM)
24.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 3.1 steals
If anyone didn’t know who Tyler Maye was coming into last season, they should definitely know who he is by now. Maye took NC by storm, leading his Farmville Central HS to an undefeated season, securing the 2A State Championship and State Title MVP honors as. Maye possesses one of the best jump-shots in NC. He was deadly beyond the arc, from mid-range and finishing at the rim all least season in tune to 24 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists per game last season. Defensively he hounded opposing teams point guards and created a ton of easy scoring opportunities off of steals as well. Expect more of the same and more from the savvy lead guard entering into his senior season. Don’t be surprised to see his recruitment soar.
Tyjarek Simmons, Roanoke-Rapids, 5’8” 150 PG/SG (D3-NAIA) *3.2 GPA
15.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.7 steals
Despite being small in stature, make no mistake about the game this kid possesses. He plays much bigger than his size and makes life miserable for his opponents on a nightly basis. Tyjarek possesses extreme quickness, a smooth stroke and a slick handle. In transition, his ability to create typically leaves defenders in retreat mode allowing him to pull up and knock down mid-range jumpers and use hesitations that lead to uncontested layups. He is very much capable of huge scoring outbursts and willing his team to victories. Defensively, he’s very active and hounds opposing ball handlers in tune to snatching away nearly 3 steals per game. He will be under the radar in his senior season due to his size and playing in a small 1A conference, but this kid has game.
Zach Robeson, Camden, 5’11” 155 PG/SG (D2-D3) *4.1 GPA
18.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 steals
When it’s all said and done, Zach Robeson will probably be in the NC top 10 scoring leaders by the end of this up and coming season. Robeson has improved his scoring average every season since arriving at Camden in Eastern, NC. Expect another leap in his scoring production. He is a lights out shooter with an improving ability to create his shot off the dribble. Moves extremely well off the ball too. With every shot attempt, you feel he is going to make it. During summer competition, he showed off his improved handle and an improved lateral quickness defensively. His size may hinder him from garnering bigger looks from some schools, but his shooting ability and high basketball IQ should solidify him a few college offers regardless. Elite shooter.
L’Shawn Davis, North Lenoir, 5’11” 155 PG (LM-D2)
17.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 4.1 steals
Davis is arguably the fastest guard in Eastern, NC with the ball. Labeling him as a blur would be an understatement. All he needs is the slightest creep of space and he will blow by even elite defenders with ease. Very shifty and electric point guard that gets to the rim at will and finishes well with either hand. Defensively, he’s very aggressive (although at times too aggressive) and gets tons of deflections and steals leading to uncontested layups on the offensive end. Has shown an improved jump-shot and an improved ability to find teammates in a half-court setting as well. Davis has already attracted the attention of several college program and looks to continue building on the success of his junior season and the experience he gained playing with Stackhouse Elite on the summer circuit.
James Moore, South Creek HS, 6’7” 190 PF/C (LM-D2)
15.1 points, 15.7 rebounds, 10.6 blocks, 2.1 steals
Only a handful of high school ballplayers can say that they averaged a triple double. James Moore, an explosive and long armed agile post player is one of them. He was able to consistently put up these monster numbers in his junior season while leading his South Creek HS team to the Eastern NC 1A Regionals before falling to the eventual state champion Voyager Academy. Moore has excellent timing and spacing when it comes to blocking shots and he makes life miserable for offensive players that aim to attack the rim. Offensively, he’s very raw but has good enough spring to dunk the ball off of drop steps in traffic and to gather several put-back slams every game around the rim.