The North Carolina 2018 was an absolutely loaded and deep class. 65 plus players are playing at the D1 level and 40 plus players are playing at the D2 or D3 level. Year after year, the state of North Carolina continues to produce the country’s best players and has the most depth of any state. Just look at the list of players on the Phenom Hoop Report Top 100 and see the number of players that being recruited nationally and out of region. Pure and simple, North Carolina is a “hotbed” for basketball talent.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the North Carolina 2018 class and let’s see how we did, not to mention the early season success of many of this class that are having standout seasons thus far. Naturally, this is somewhat skewed by “proper fit” and the immediate needs of each school. That being said, let’s look at some of the players we got right and also some of the ones we may have missed. In part 1, we looked at players ranked 1-8. http://www.phenomhoopreport.com/2018/12/06/early-season-collegiate-standouts-from-the-north-carolina-2018-class-part-1/
Looking back at part 1, we didn’t do too badly. For the most part, we we pretty much spot on. Unfortunately, we missed out a few in the 9-25 range. Now, let’s look at the top performers in part 2.
No. 10 6’8 Rechon “Leaky” Black (UNC)
Rechon “Leaky” Black is one of the most unique players in this list. Talk about versatility! Black can and will play multiple position from 1-4. Coming to UNC, the “point forward” knew immediate playing time would be a bigger challenge than teammate Coby White based solely on need and returning starters. That being said, Black is making strong contributions to the nationally ranked Tar Heels. He is averaging almost 14 minutes per game, 4.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 1.4 APG. By the time Black is a senior, his name will be in the conversation as one of the nation’s best.
No. 11 6’6 Audiese Toney (Pitt)
Audiese Toney, like Joey Baker, played for Trinity Christian out of Fayetteville, North Carolina. In addition, Toney was in the 2019 class but decided to “reclass” up due the availability of playing time for new head coach Jeff Capel. Yes, we thought Toney would be a high major prospect as a 2019 player, however we are pleasantly surprised by his early season success, although we shouldn’t be. There has been a complete 180 at Pitt and Toney has been a major part of the success in securing a 7-2 early season record. Toney is averaging 25.4 minutes per game, not to mention 9.6 PPG and 6.9 RPG. Toney is doing what he always does and that is to play hard and give maximum effort.
No. 14 6’4 Nate Hinton (Houston)
Nate Hinton has helped lead a resurgence for coach Sampson and the University of Houston. The “do it all” wing guard is contributing early and making a name for himself. Houston is currently 7-0 and Hinton is averaging 23 minutes per game, not to mention averaging 9.4 PPG and 4.6 RPG. During his senior season at Gaston Day, Hinton became the primary ball handler and will be doing the same in college. His game continues to evolve and don’t be surprised to hear him playing at the next level one day.
No. 15 6’5 Trey Wertz (Santa Clara)
Standing a lengthy 6’5 with an enormous wingspan, Wertz usually played the “off guard” position in high school along Providence Day teammate Devon Dotson. Periodically, Wertz filled in for the point guard position when Dotson was out with an ankle injury. At Santa Clara, Wertz is transitioning into the primary point guard. Wertz is averaging almost 30 minutes a game along with 11.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG and 4.5 APG. Wertz has always had an unbelievable work ethic and a desire to improve. Words of wisdom, don’t be surprised to hear this name being mentioned as one of the top players in the country by his senior season. He has all the physical attributes, skillset and most of all determination to extend his playing career beyond college.
No. 23 6’6 Jayden Gardner (East Carolina)
This is the one we got completely wrong based upon his early season success at ECU. Talk about an immediate impact! Gardner was committed to coach Jeff Lebo prior to the coaching change. Most players would have explored their options, but Gardner stayed true to his commitment and head coach Joe Dooley can’t be thankful enough. ECU sports an 6-4 record and is having an outstanding season and could easily be the AAC Freshman of the Year. His numbers are absolutely outstanding. Gardner is currently averaging 29 minutes per game. Now, talk about productivity, Gardner is averaging 19 PPG, 8.6 RPG, not to mention he is shooting 57.3% from the floor and 80% from the free throw line. Gardner has always been known as a “below the rim” player, but his early season statistics prove one thing, he plays much bigger than his listed height. Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking back, Gardner should have be ranked in the top 15.