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.