From the Sidelines
NC Top 80
6’8 ’19 Patrick Williams (West Charlotte)
As crazy as this sounds, Patrick Williams may be the best player not being talked about on the national level. We’re talking about a long and athletic wing that is oozing with upside and potential. He is extremely young for his grade. Last year, we wrote, “He is the next big star to come out of West Charlotte.” First of all, he has tremendous size, length, athleticism and unbelievable feel for the game. At the NC Top 80, Patrick Williams showcased an all-around game and was clicking on all cylinders. He was showing tremendous range on his 3-point shot, attacking the rim and scoring from the midrange. More importantly, it looks like Patrick isn’t finished growing. We were equally impressed with his soft shooting touch, excellent ball handling skills and ability to make timely passes that enable his teammates to get easy looks at the rim. While Mr. Top 80 went to Jaden Springer, Patrick Williams was a close second in voting and in our opinion was the most consistent player in all three games, not to mention he led the camp in scoring by averaging 21.3 PPG. Look for Williams to have a huge spring/summer and don’t be surprised to see his stock shoot up the national rankings and be one of the hottest prospects in the North Carolina class of 2019.
6’4 ’19 Josh Nickelberry
Josh Nickelberry is widely known as one of the state’s most lethal and premier scorers. Shooters translate and Nickelberry’s game is custom made for the college level. Unlike most high-profile scorers, he doesn’t have to be ball dominant to score a boatload of points. Already sporting an excellent frame and quick shooting touch, Nickelberry can light it up from deep and quickly. He has excellent elevation on his jump shot and his ability to shoot from long range makes him such a different player to defend. He has solid ball handling and driving ability and can get easily to the rim. More importantly, Nickelberry is an efficient shooter/scorer and needs little time to make an impact on the offensive end of the court. Look for his game to elevate to a new level this spring/summer and will be mentioned quite often in the national conversation as one of the country’s best scorers. Nickelberry averaged 18.0 PPG in the three NC Top 80 games and showed a very much mature and poised approach to the game.
6’8 ’19 Emmanuel Izunabar
Emmanuel Izunabar could be the spokesperson for the “Energizer Bunny.” Simply put, Izunabar has a relentless motor accompanied by a muscular and athletic frame. He is a strong two-way power forward that will battle and compete for every rebound on both ends of the court, not to mention an absolutely fantastic attitude on and off the court. When you watch Izunabar, you can quickly tell two things. First of all, he is working hard and busting his tail, but more importantly, he is having fun on the court. In addition, he is more skilled offensively than most give him credit for. As a matter of fact, he was tied in leading the camp in scoring with a 21.3 PPG average.
6’8 ’19 BJ Mack (Oak Hill Academy)
If anyone had a lot to prove at the NC Top 80, it was 6’8 BJ Mack and he passed with flying colors and then some. First of all, we’re talking about a young man that has some extremely unique skill sets. He is a strong power forward that has passer friendly hands, nifty footwork in the post, and the ability to step out and consistently knock down 3-pointers, and not to mention an excellent midrange game. More importantly, Mack is a willing passer out of the post and will make the outlet pass and work to establish low post position. That being said, he has the ability to float on the perimeter and become a serious shooting threat, which would force defenses to come out and cover him while opening up driving lanes for his teammates. At the NC Top 80, Mack averaged 19.3 PPG and did it from all three levels on the court. In addition, we personally feel Mack may be one of the best values in the 2019 class.
5’11 Jalen Benjamin (Leesville Road)
Jalen Benjamin was simply a joy to watch and won the NC Top 80 Mr. Playmaker and rightfully so. Many mid-major and above are going to make a huge mistake and not recruit him because of his size. Unfortunately for them, Benjamin will have the last laugh in regard to that. Make no mistake about it, this young man can really play. He’s crafty, skilled and just knows how to play the game. He has the unique ability to score from all levels on the court and does has that “Sixth Sense” in terms of making the right play. First of all, he has the ball on a string and is a creative ball handler and even better passer, but his ability to score over taller and more athletic players tells the whole story. While he does need to get physically stronger, he has good lateral quickness and rarely gets beat off the dribble. He understands good team defensive principles and anticipates extremely well in defensive positioning. Benjamin averaged 20.0 PPG and was both efficient and effective from all aspects at the NC Top 80.