From the Sidelines
Coach Rick’s Take-Aways from the Mt. Tabor vs. Ben L. Smith Game
Ben L. Smith 60
Mt. Tabor 56
Phenom Hoop Report traveled to Ben Smith High School in Greensboro, North Carolina to cover the NCHSAA 3A matchup between two of the better teams in the state. In addition, these two teams should make a deep run in the state championship. At stake was the Piedmont Triad Conference Championship. Mt Tabor entered the game with an 18-3 record (8-1 conference record) while Ben L. Smith entered the contest with a 19-3 record (9-1 conference record) A win by Ben L. Smith would secure the conference regular season championship.
The game came down to the wire and 6’4 unsigned senior Isaiah Wilkins gave it all he had. We’re talking about a mobile, fluid and athletic small forward that exerts maximum effort, energy, and has a competitive spirit that “almost” allowed Mt.Tabor, to steal the win on senior night at Ben L. Smith. Wilkins finished with a game-high 31 points. He scored from the midrange, taking it aggressively to the rim, and initiating contact that allowed him to connect on 9-10 free throws. Wilkins has a soft shooting touch and is a unique prospect at the next level. First of all, Wilkins is young for his grade and has done a really good job of toning up his body. For whatever reason, Wilkins has gone the recruiting radar and I must admit we have him ranked embarrassing low at no. 47. Wilkins has a strong frame and a high number of physical attributes, but it was his intangibles that are countless. Simply put, Wilkins adds value to any team. He plays the game the right way, but most of all he competes!
Ben L. Smith is loaded with talent. They have Isaiah Bigelow (Charlotte), Jaylen Gainey (Brown University) Jaylin Gamble (Fayetteville State) and Jacob Crutchfield (Fayetteville). That’s four players that will be playing at the collegiate level next season. In addition, they have a nationally ranked prospect in Silas Mason. That being said, 6’2 Camren Hayes is next in line. Hayes is a slender, lengthy and athletic point guard that is so poised for his age and grade. Hayes finished with 14 points including timely free throws down the stretch. Hayes has a unique blend of athleticism, high skill set, and most importantly, an uncanny feel for the game. Although he is a right-handed point guard, he goes left extremely well. In our opinion, Hayes has the total package and his game translates well to the next level. He is tracking as a high major prospect and will get a nice bump in our next rankings.
Sir Bounce A lot
6’6 ’20 Silas Mason is simply a gifted athlete! He has tremendous explosion and the southpaw has the ability to get to this second jump while most others are finishing their first jump. The small forward is aggressive on the boards and is a tough on-ball defender. Mason already sports a college-ready frame and as his offensive skill continues to improve, his stock will continue to climb. In addition, Mason is a tough hardnose competitor. He brings it on both ends of the court and not to mention Sports Center dunks!
Playing with the framework of the offense
6’6 Charlotte signee Isaiah Bigelow is a player that can score in bunches but doesn’t have to have the ball constantly in his hands. Bigelow scores within the rhythm of the offense and rarely takes unproductive shots. He’s a shot maker and an efficient one at that. Bigelow finished with 14 points and two timely back to back 3-pointers in the second half. We’ve been a fan of Bigelow for quite some time. He has excellent length and his ability to shoot the ball will translate into early success at the collegiate level.
“Two” Much Inside Punch (The G&G Boys)
Ben L. Smith 6’9 Jaylen Gainey (Brown University) and 6’8 Jaylin Jaylin Gamble (Fayetteville State) Gainey and Gamble controlled the boards on both ends of the court. While they combined for double-digit scoring, it was the timing of those points that mattered most. Every time Mt. Tabor was in position to tie or be in position to take the lead, it was a timely offensive rebound that proved to be the dagger for Mt. Tabor.
The Floor General
6’4 ’18 Quest Aldridge of Mt. Tabor has tremendous length and height for the point guard position. He is fundamentally sound and is a passer-friendly point guard. We were impressed with his court vision and timely passes. It wasn’t his best scoring night, but it’s easy to tell his high basketball IQ and floor leadership are high qualities and will translate well at the next level.
The Muse Factor
When you talk about high school basketball in the Winston-Salem area, Coach Andy Muse quickly comes to mind. He is truly a high-level coach and a legend in the ranks of high school coaches in the state of North Carolina. His teams are well coached and no one works the officials better than Coach Muse. He is a master statistician and his teams may not always have the most talent, but one thing is for sure, his teams will compete and win championships.
Kudos to Coach Partee
We got a chance to watch Ben L. Smith a few times this past summer at team camps. One thing is for certain, he has gotten his team to buy into the “team first approach.” First of all, his team is very unselfish and play as a team. Next, the team has brought in to playing tougher and aggressive man to man defense. As a matter of fact, they created three closely guarded five-second calls in the second half which proved to be game changers in a hard-fought game. One thing is for certain, Ben L. Smith has the talent, length and size and
could be an underdog to win the NCHSAA 3A state championship. They seem to be peaking at the right time.