The inaugural Carmel Christian Tip Off Classic was filled with an abundance of talent from future top 5 NBA Draft Selections to high level D3 hoopers. Narrowing this list down to five was extremely difficult, I had to base this list off of their performance in this event, and not sheer potential. Here’s my magical five from an awesome weekend in Charlotte!
5. 6’3 2020 Tyler McKinney: Asheville Christian
McKinney was sensational for his Asheville Christian squad in both contests this weekend, maintaining a high level of productivity that has made him such a great player going back to last season and throughout the summer with Team Vision. He finished with 24 points on Saturday in a win over Providence Day, playing with a high level of efficiency, and scoring from all three levels. He has clearly improved his stroke from beyond the arc, making him even more of a complete player than he already was. Expect McKinney to rise in regional and state rankings throughout his junior season, earning some serious interest from high level D2/Low-Mid Level D1 programs in the process. The kid is simply an asset to any team, and should do a great job along with his backcourt mate Raishaun Brown filling the void left by Caleb Mills, (Houston Commit) who transferred to public school with the intention of enrolling at Houston in January.
4. 6’7 2019 Christian Brown: Oak Hill Academy
Christian Brown has clearly found his role at Oak Hill in his short time there and is excelling in a major way, answering questions some had about his development over the course of the past few years. Brown made me a believer with his effort throughout the contest against Moravian Prep, crashing the offensive glass for some memorable put-back jams, moving without the ball at a high level, and completely buying in on the defensive side of the ball forcing some timely turnovers late in the game. It feels like a situation where he needed Oak Hill, and they needed him, and it seems like a match made in heaven early on in the season. He’s currently mulling offers from UNLV, Seton Hall, Clemson, and many others. If he continues to play with this level of intensity and effort, he will be a MAJOR asset to whatever program he decides to be a part of.
3. 6’3 2019 Caleb Burgess: Moravian Prep
Choosing just one guy from Moravian Prep was extremely difficult. Burgess, Josh Hall, Javarzia Belton, Daniel Lobach, and Chance Keys all could’ve made this list, but I had to go with Caleb for a few different reasons. He had the main matchup of the night going up against arguably the top prospect in all of High School Hoops with Cole Anthony and did more than just hold his own, he was arguably better than Cole. He completely took the game over in the 4th quarter, leading a ferocious comeback that had one of the top teams in America on the ropes, needing a lineage of situations to go their way in order to get to overtime and eventually come away with the win. Burgess currently has only one offer from NC A&T, expect that number to increase drastically really soon, because he’s one of the best unsigned seniors in the State end of story. As long as Burgess continues to play with a high level of confidence, he’s a can’t miss prospect in my eyes.
2. 6’4 2019 Donovan Gregory: Carmel Christian (App State Commit)
App State fans should be incredibly excited because I think they have a possible program changer with Gregory coming to town. He’s an absolute beast of a guard, physically overpowering the competition to go with high flying vertical ability and excellent touch extending out to the 3 point arc. He possesses an excellent basketball IQ, with excellent leadership qualities as he looks to win a 2nd consecutive state title. He has total game takeover ability with his defensive prowess, leading to a lot of dunks for him, Marten Maide, and the rest of this uber talented Carmel squad. I can’t wait to watch them and Donovan as the season progresses.
1. 6’5 2019 Josh Nickelberry: Northwood Temple Academy (Louisville Commit)
Josh Nickelberry is on my personal Mount Rushmore of pure scorers at the high school level. This kid has a unique gift of putting the ball in the basket that most kids would only dream of possessing. He averaged 37 Points over both games in the event, scoring from all three levels at a high rate and getting to the line at an alarming rate. He does an incredible job creating space for himself, taking and making some absolutely absurd shots creating highlight reel moments one after another. Louisville fans have a lot of reasons to be excited with their recruiting class, don’t be surprised if Nickelberry ends up being the best of the bunch with an extremely translatable skillset to the next level. He should continue to put up jaw dropping numbers throughout the year for a Northwood Temple team that has a chance to win the NCISAA 1A title.