New Kings of the HoopState!
The state of North Carolina has been a hotbed for high school basketball talent for the past ten plus years. Sports enthusiast often mentions that the 2016 class is one of the top classes in the last decade. Not only has the state produced top notch high school ballers, but potential lottery picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. Not to exclude the dozens of high/mid-major Division 1 prospects who may find themselves in future drafts or be playing overseas. Furthermore, the dynamic talent has left big shoes to fill for the young ballers hoping to follow in their footsteps.
When you consider the HoopState class of 2016 there were players such as:
- Edrice “Bam” Adebayo (Kentucky)
- Harry Giles (Duke)
- Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State)
- Jalen Johnson (Tennessee)
- Jalen Harris (University of New Mexico)
- Jay Huff (Virginia)
- John Fulkerson (Tennessee)
- Grant Williams (Tennessee)
- Brandon Childress (Wake Forest)
- Jaylen Fornes (UNCW)
And this is just the tip of the iceberg!
These players were not only exciting but competitive, leaving the crowd in awe almost every time they stepped on the court. Again, these are some big shoes to fill. Nevertheless, promising young players are climbing the ladder ready to carry the mantle that has made the North Carolina the HoopState! Here are some of the hoopers that have shown they are willing to maintain the tradition:
Let’s start off with one of the best, yet most underrated players in the state, Greensboro Day School’s (Greensboro, NC) c/o 2018 shooting guard, John Newman III. Standing at 6’6, Newman has arguably one of the best motors in the state regardless of class. He has a “whatever it takes” attitude that is visible every time he steps out on the court. Offensively, Newman thrives in the open floor and slashing to the basket. He also can knock down jumpers inside the perimeter. Defensively, he’s a mixture of tenacity and aggressiveness, continually disrupting the offense. When it comes to rebounding, Newman exceeds on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, constantly battling to put his team in the best position to win. He currently holds offers from Clemson, Providence, Cincinnati, Wake Forrest, Jame Madison, Old Dominion, Boston College, and UNCC.
Not too many high school players exploded on the scene this past season like Providence Day School’s (Charlotte, NC) c/o 2018 PG, 6’2 Devon Dotson. After leading his AAU 17U team (Team CLT) to an Under Amour championship in the summer of 2015, he created a buzz for himself that progressed tremendously as the year went on. Now he’s solidified himself as one of the premiere talents not only in the state of North Carolina but the country. Dotson excels as a leader on the floor. He knows how to command the court and put his team in the right position to score. Dotson is a pass first point guard that makes sure to get his team involved. He also can knock down the pull-up or hit the 3 pointers. Dotson is an elite floorer general that knows how to lead his team to victory. Currently, Dotson holds offers from Creighton, Kansas, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Memphis, Providence, University of Southern California, NC State, Florida, UNC, Hampton, Georgia Southern, Clemson, UNCC, Georgia, Rutgers, Tennessee, & Wake Forrest.
A player that has emerged as a new King of the HoopState is Greenfield High School’s (Wilson, NC) c/o 2018 Coby White. The 6’4 point guard solidified his elite status during the 2015/2016 high school basketball season. Having multiple 40+ point games, he began drawing in national attention that ultimately leads to his verbal commitment to UNC. White has the uncanny ability to score the ball from anywhere on the court. With his size, speed, and athleticism he wreaks havoc on defenses. When White gets hot, there’s no answer for him. Whether it’s knocking down three-pointers or using crafty side steps to finish at the basket, White is about a bucket.
Regarding big men, there isn’t too much debate that Charlotte Catholic’s (Charlotte, NC) c/o2019 6’8 forward BJ Mack sits at the top of that list. As a freshman Mack lead his school to a state championship, dominating the paint as there was no answer for him. When the double teams came Mack did well passing the ball out of the traps, relying on his teammates to execute off of the opportunity. As of lately, he’s sporting deeper range on his jumper as he can hit the 18 footer to 3 pointers with ease. With Mack’s recent verbal commitment to Virginia Tech, Mack has already shown that he’s dedicated to bettering himself and remain a dominant big in the HoopState.
Since middle school Cox Mill High School’s (Concord, NC) c/o 2019, 6’4 guard, Wendell Moore Jr. has been receiving attention at the national level. With this type of pressure on a player so young, it is easy for them to fold up and become irrelevant in the basketball world. However, Moore Jr. has persevered and continues to show he’s worth every bit of the attention he gets. Moore Jr. can play and defend positions 1 through 3 at a high level. He was the go-to guy as a freshman and was more than able to carry the load for his squad. With all of the attention, Moore Jr. consistently plays with a target on him and never backdowns from the challenge. Already touting several high major offers, Moore Jr. has proven that he’s ready to carry the mantle as a king of the HoopState.
Regarding craftiness, you won’t find anyone too much craftier than Word of God Christian Academy’s (Raleigh, NC) c/o 2017 6’4 Blake Harris. A fast paced player that gets up and down the court; Harris is a wizard when it comes to passing and finding open teammates. It’s almost as if he has eyes in the back of his head when he sets up players with no-look, behind-the-back, crisp passes. To compliment his wizardry, Harris has gotten more athletic and now plays well above the rim. He owns one of the most exciting plays of this past summer’s EYBL. Committed to University of Washington, Harris is a high-risk/high-reward player who is guaranteed to excite the crowd, earning himself a spot as a HoopState King!
With so many big men expanding their game to be stretch forwards, Word of God Christian Academy’s (Raleigh, NC) c/o 2017 6’10, Brandon Huffman may be considered something of a throwback. A more traditional big man, Huffman focuses more on dominating the paint and demolishing the rim every chance he gets! The big man from Goldsboro, NC by way of Anchorage, AK came to Word of God needing work and polish on his game. Fast forward to the end of the 2016 summer and Huffman has racked up offers from just about every high-major university in the country. Ultimately choosing to commit to UNC verbally, Huffman is a staple of dedication and hard work. He continues to improve his post game – which includes footwork and back-to-the-basket moves. Huffman has solidified his status as a new king in the HoopState!
A player with blazing end-to-end is Robinson High School’s (Charlotte, NC) c/o 2017 point guard Lavar Batts. Batts always has his dial on 1,000 and keeps it there throughout the course of the game. He excels in the open floor because it’s a nightmare to contain him. Batts is a flash and is always going down hill, inflicting that much pressure on the defense. He also finishes at the rim with ease – and flair! Batts has recently verbally committed to VCU.
Nothing generates a buzz more than a player still in middle school playing high school varsity basketball. Trinity Christian School’s (Fayetteville, NC) c/o 2019, Joey Baker has been in that category, and his stock has risen every year since. The 6’6 wing continues to improve every year which has landed him the attention of high-major colleges & universities all across the country. Baker was known as a shooter, but when he added athleticism and slashing to his regime, his game soared to a whole other level. After shocking everyone and leading his school to a state championship, he went on a tear during the AAU season with (17U) Team Felton. At this point, it’s safe to say that the buzz is real and he’s solidified his place as a new king of the HoopState. Baker currently holds offers from the University of Florida, Boston College, East Carolina University, Providence, Wake Forest University, Virginia Tech University, North Carolina State University, University of Texas, Tennessee University, Clemson University, and the University of North Carolina – Charlotte.
Another player that falls into the “playing on varsity as an 8th grader” category is Trinity Christian School’s, c/o 2019 6’4 shooting guard Josh Nickelberry. Nickelberry is an exciting player who can light up the gym at the drop of a hat. A high-volume shooter, Nickelberry has the tools to score in a variety of ways. He’s crafty with the dribble, efficient with the jumper and electric at the rim. If there is a way to score he will find it. He doesn’t give the defense many options, if any, to stop him. With Nickelberry’s offensive weapons he keeps the defense on their toes because there’s no one way to stop him. The scary part is he’s still getting better. He has a relentless work ethic and enjoys the process of doing what it takes to reach the next level. This medium certifies him as a new king of the HoopState! Nickelberry’s current offers are Clemson University, Georgia Tech University, East Carolina University, Tulane University, Providence, Penn State, Wake Forest University, VCU, Virginia Tech University, Howard University, and Baylor University.
When it comes to the skill and efficiency category, not too many excel more than Greensboro Day School’s (Greensboro, NC) c/o 2017 6’7 small forward, JP Moorman. Moorman is as productive as they come. You won’t find wasted effort on his end, plus he has a well-rounded game that doesn’t limit him to just one thing. Moorman can shoot the 15-foot shots as well as 3 pointers. He’s incredibly crafty and knows how to take advantage of cutting to the basket, screening away from the ball, and using his size in mismatch scenarios. Moorman also does well crashing the boards both offensively and defensively, coupled with the capability of pushing the ball up the court and setting up the offense. He’s the type of player that you don’t need to run plays for, but he’ll still get a double-double for his team. He also plays with a ton of passion with winning being the only goal in mind. Moorman has recently committed to Temple University!
At one point in time, no player had the HoopState more excited than EE Smith High School’s (Fayetteville, NC) c/o 2017 6’5 shooting guard, Jatrious “JJ” Smith. There was tremendous hype around him as he touted a college-ready body as a freshman in high school. On the court, if you can name it Smith could do it. A freakish athlete, with handle and can shoot with consistency, Smith was dynamic on the court. Defensively, he was just as exciting, as he would block shots all the way into the bleachers or lock his man up to the point that they couldn’t get off an attempt. Frequent transfers have caused Smith’s hype to die down a bit. Now Smith is back and looking to reclaim his thrown as a king in the HoopState!
Terry Sanford High School’s (Fayetteville, NC) dynamic c/o 2018 6’0 point guard Malik Johnson is one of the most feared opponents in the state. Often, defenders will not play him too close for concern of embarrassment. Time after time Johnson has electrified crowds with shifty handles and elite athleticism. He has proven to be one of the most difficult players to guard, not only in the state but the country. Defensively, he doesn’t shy away from guarding his man. While there’s doubt about his shooting abilities, Johnson was one of the most accurate shooters in his high school conference this past season – which spells trouble for defenders. Johnson has shown that he’s ready to take the thrown as a new king of the HoopState.
There is one player who has flown under the radar for quite some time now, and he deserves recognition as one of the new Kings of the HoopState. That player is Greensboro Day School’s (Greensboro, NC) c/o 2017 5’11 point guard, Jordan Perkins! There are not many players that can run a team like Perkins. He’s a floor general that makes sure the team executes to perfection. Perkins has also mastered the art of being a leader by example. On defense, he is pesky and suffocating for 94 feet. Perkins talks to his team through the course of the game to make sure everyone knows their assignments. Offensively, he’s a pass-first guard, making sure everyone else gets involved. Perkins also knows how to pick up the intensity and take over when his team needs him to. He also tore up the AAU circuit this past summer with Team Felton, helping lead them to the semi-finals. All of these attributes are usually not acknowledged because they are intangible. However, these are the same characteristics that contributed to making the teams Perkins plays for powerhouses. This recognition is long overdue for Perkins! Perkins has committed to North Carolina Central University.