Over six years ago, Josh Level tragically passed away on the basketball court when his heart stopped from a viral infection. Since then, the folks within the Josh Level Classic and SmileForJosh Foundation have done a valiant job to keep his memory alive while raising money for a truly great cause. This game seems to grow tremendously each year and is now arguably set to have the most talented group since the tradition began. They’ve also brought in two of the biggest coaching names in North Carolina basketball to represent this storied contest between Guy Shavers and Freddy Johnson. We previewed Team Shavers yesterday (LINK: http://www.phenomhoopreport.com/josh-level-classic-preview-team-shavers/). Now, we’ll look at Team Johnson…
5’11 Jalen Cone (Walkertown/Team Felton/Virginia Tech)
The flair and excitement will definitely be in the gym with Cone present, a high-flying point guard that just recently classified up and committed to Virginia Tech. He’s a walking highlight-reel with exceptional athleticism and the ability to put any opponent on a poster. Cone is touted as one of the most prolific scorers to go through the Hoopstate in recent memory. The open-floor style of play should be a massive advantage for Cone and his overall approach to the game.
6’8 Greg Gantt (Trinity Christian/Team Felton/Providence)
Despite being sidelined with an injury for most of the year, Gantt is expected to perform in the Josh Level Classic. He’s arguably the best two-way player, and certainly the best defender, in this entire event. Gantt has improved drastically on offense over the last few years and is now capable of truly leading his team on that end of the floor. He’s such a dynamic defensive player that can seamlessly switch across all positions while standing out as the top rebounder in the gym. Gantt is a high-level athlete that will fit in perfectly at Providence.
6’3 ’21 Cam Hayes (Greensboro Day/Team CP3)
Though he’s just a sophomore, Hayes might already be among the most popular prospects on either roster. Hayes is a nationally-ranked point guard prospect with over a dozen high major scholarship offers. He offers a phenomenal balance between scoring and playmaking, which allowed him to become a key cog for Greensboro Day last season. Hayes is one of the few rising juniors to play at the highest possible level within North Carolina.
6’6 Marcus Watson (Buford/Georgia Stars/Oklahoma State)
It feels long overdue, but Watson has returned to the Hoopstate for the storied Josh Level Classic, ready to remind folks just how dominant he was before relocating to Georgia. Watson has an elite blend of size, skill, and athleticism, which makes him a matchup problem for most opposing wing players. He handles the ball well and is capable of creating a quality shot out of thin air, which is a big part of what allows him to be a primary offensive option with any group of teammates.
6’0 ’20 Shakeel Moore (Piedmont Classical/Team CP3)
The ascension of Moore has been nothing short of amazing throughout the last year or two, especially considering how quickly he became an obvious high major talent. By himself, Moore is capable of shutting down the entire gym with his eye-popping explosion but also possesses the necessary craftiness and skillset to dominate in various other ways. He’s extremely difficult for opponents to contain off the dribble and regularly welcomes physicality upon attacking the basket.
6’8 ’21 Josh Taylor (Greensboro Day/Team United)
Right now, it seems like Taylor is the most coveted prospect within North Carolina, especially given how many offers he’s accrued over the last six months. He possesses great size, touch, poise, and understands how to control the action from within the paint. Taylor is a quality athlete that runs the floor quite well and displays sharp instincts on the defensive end of the floor. He’s only gotten better since entering the Hoopstate and now looks ready for a break-out junior season.
6’7 ’20 Silas Mason (Smith/Team Felton)
With guys like Cone, Watson, and Moore on the same team, the Josh Level Classic is already guaranteed to be an absolute show. Add in a guy like Mason to the mix, and the entertainment value goes even higher. He’s big, fairly versatile on defense, and easily one of the most explosive leapers across the entire state. Mason is a problem for opponents to contain in transition and should be very comfortable in this setting.
6’4 ’22 Jalen Hood-Schifino (Northside Christian/Team Charlotte)
It’s rare to see freshmen in a game like the Josh Level Classic, but Hood-Schifino is a rare type of talent. He’s so incredibly polished and approaches every possession with the utmost poise and maturity. Hood-Schifino already carries himself like a humble adult and simply knows how to lead by example on both ends of the floor. He’s one of the most natural and effective playmakers in the country, regardless of class, and will remain a no-brainer for high major coaches.
6’3 ’20 Tristan Maxwell (North Mecklenburg/Team Charlotte)
There’s a healthy debate about the most impressive scorer in North Carolina, but Maxwell might truly be the best of them all. He’s about as tough and cold-blooded as a prospect can be at the high school level. Maxwell never seems fazed or uncomfortable, just ready to absolutely obliterate his assignment. He’s a big-time athlete that can lock down defensively while constantly scoring at will on offense. Maxwell already holds over a dozen high major offers and should become even more appealing over the next year.
6’2 Caleb Burgess (Moravian Prep/Team Loaded 704/Hofstra)
The Moravian Prep factor certainly paid dividends for Burgess, who worked unbelievably hard over the last calendar year to vault himself into the Division I ranks. He went from an under-the-radar prospect, to a guy that everyone recognizes from his showdown with Cole Anthony. Burgess is widely-known for his scoring ability and the sheer competitiveness that he brings to each and every possession.
6’8 ’21 Dontrez Styles (Kinston/Team CP3)
Only a few sophomores from the Hoopstate are playing at the highest age group possible, and Styles is one of them. He should already be considered a top-three talent in North Carolina’s Class of 2021, especially considering his athleticism, physical tools, and obvious long-term upside. Styles is a defensive menace with phenomenal versatility and the ability to outrebound bigger/stronger opponents on a regular basis. He has a solid perimeter jumper and is able to apply excellent pressure as a penetrator and finisher. Styles is certainly a guy that should be more widely-known by the national media.
6’3 DJ Robertson (Athens Drive/Team Wall/Florida Atlantic)
In terms of sheer tools, there might not be a guard in North Carolina more appealing than Robertson, who seems to check all the boxes. He has size, skill, and very well-rounded athleticism, able to speed past opponents in the open floor, utilize his quickness to take them off the dribble, or his leaping ability to meet them at the rim. Robertson can fill it up in a hurry and should thrive in the fast-paced style at the Josh Level Classic.
6’10 ’20 Kuluel Mading (High Point Central/New Light Disciples)
Surely by now, it must be obvious to folks how special Mading can become, especially if he maintains his current trajectory. He’s a long, fluid big man that already protects the rim and rebounds the ball at a high level. Mading has continually expanded his offensive game since bursting onto the scene a few years ago, now able to reliably finish above the rim, with either hand, or step out and shoot from the perimeter. It’s only a matter of time before Mading becomes a must-have prospect for college coaches.