The inaugural Carmel Classic Tip Off Classic presented by Phenom Hoop Report jumpstarted the 2018-19 North Carolina high school basketball season, not to mention the first time the 35 second shot clock was used in the state of North Carolina. While the use of the shot clock created a buzz and excitement, it wasn’t anywhere close to the enthusiasm and excitement that was generated on the court. Awards of Excellence donated the game MVP trophies and today, we will take a look at the players that were selected game MVP to this prestigious event.
6’0 2019 Raishaun Brown (Asheville Christian)
With the loss of Caleb Mills, there were a lot of question marks going into the 2018-19 season. Mills was a national level recruit who committed to the University of Houston and decided to graduate early, thus leaving a void for coach Andy Ray. That being said, 6’0 unsigned senior Raishaun Brown stepped up and enhanced the opportunity given to him. On opening night, Brown poured in a game high 30 points leading Asheville Christian to a 80-73 win over a very good Hickory Grove team. Look for his recruitment to pick up with D2 and lower tier D1 schools
5’8 2019 Kojack THompson (Christ School)
With three starters out of the lineup due to injuries and football, one may not have known what to expect coming into their encounter with Concord First Assembly. While being the smallest player on the court, 5’8 unsigned senior Kojack Thompson played with passion and purpose. He demonstrated outstanding court leadership and his attitude, energy and effort propelled Christ school to a 65-54 win. Thompson finished with 16 points and dished out six assists, however it was his intangibles that caught our attention. One thing is for certain, Thompson will play with an over abundance of enthusiasm that spills over into this teammates.
6’5 2019 Donovan Gregory (Carmel Christian)
Midway through the third quarter against talented Northwood Temple, the score was knotted at 42-42 apiece. Then coach Joe Badgett put the full court press and Donovan Gregory literally took it upon himself to allow Carmel’s defense become their best offense. Gregory finished with a team high 30 points, but it was his energy and defensive pressure that allowed Carmel to get in attack mode and break open a rather close game into a 98-70 win over Northwood. One thing is crystal clear, Gregory has enhanced his overall offensive arsenal and is now a more compete player on offense and a more attacking and aggressive defender.
6’5 2020 Tyler McKinney (Asheville Christian)
6’5 2020 Tyler McKinney simply enjoyed a great weekend at the Carmel Christian Tip Off Classic. He was really good in Friday’s opening win, but was even better on Saturday when he poured in a game high 22 points. Asheville Christian went on to a 55-43 win over Providence Day and his play should quickly grab the attention of college coaches. We’re talking about a fundamentally sound, high IQ and talented young player that knows how to make winning plays.
6’5 2019 Josh Nickelberry (Northwood Temple)
In my opinion, Josh Nickelberry literally put on a scoring exhibition in the two games, going for 31 in a losing effort against nationally ranked Carmel Christian and an unbelievable 44 points in their win over a very tough and talented Liberty Heights.Nickelberry was scoring from all three levels and was dialed in from deep. In addition, we were impressed with his growth, poise and maturity as a player. Nickelberry demonstrated excellent court leadership throughout the event.
6’3 Cole Anthony (Oak Hill Academy)
Battling foul trouble the entire game which allowed Moravian Prep back into the game and a chance to pull off the upset. That being said, 6’3 Cole Anthony told his teammates “act like you’ve been here before.’ Anthony basically “willed” his team to a 92-85 overtime win over a tough, aggressive, and confident Moravian Prep team. Anthony finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and dished out five assists. To put it mildly, Cole Anthony is a vey special and gifted point guard and one of the best we have ever watched in the past ten years.
6”6 DeAngelo Epps (Carmel Christian)
While Carmel starting out a little slowly out of the gates, 6’6 DeAngelo Epps separated himself early with his high motor, aggressive full throttle approach throughout the game. Epps finished with a game high 25 points and was relentless attacking the rim. While known as a straight “down hill” type player, Epss has really worked hard on enhancing his perimeter game. He developing confidence in his midrange and especially from knocking down 3-pointers with consistency.
We would like to thank Awards of Excellence out of Greensboro for sponsoring the MVP trophies. In addition, we want to thank Grant Coffey (pictured presenting MVP trophies) and Lauren Mello of Carmel Christian for their help, support and assistant in making this a quality event.