We traveled out to Burlington on Monday evening to get our first extended look at the Burlington Christian Royals basketball squad. Their head coach, Ryan Bernardi, is entering his first season in the new role and has high hopes for this new-look program. He’s hoping to bring a modernized philosophy to a school that hasn’t necessarily been known for their abundance of basketball talent. Bernardi has already improved the roster from last season, adding two transfers, and implementing an up-tempo offensive scheme. They’re pulling a page straight from Mike D’Antoni’s playbook and expect to run opponents out of the gym throughout the season. The Royals might not currently be on many folks’ radar, but they have multiple Division I prospects and the potential to outscore every team they’ll face.
6’1 ’21 Brock Williams
There simply aren’t many players like Williams, who is already an incredibly gifted and talented guard prospect with a very unique skillset. His ability to create space is unlike any other and he is able to generate a shot from any spot on the floor in an instant. Williams is always in attack mode, forcing defenders to pick him up upon crossing half-court—or else they’ll get spurned. His jumper is quick with terrific lift and rotation, allowing him to consistently apply pressure from midrange and beyond. Williams has a deep arsenal of in-between scoring moves and absorbs contact extremely well when looking to finish around the basket. His ball-handling is excellent and his playmaking should continue to improve; he showcased phenomenal vision throughout the day and could realistically average five-plus assists this season. Williams is armed with a quality supporting cast and should be able to take another step as a leader within the coming months. Expect him to have a big-time sophomore season, especially if he improves his efficiency and vocal leadership. Williams has interest from Penn State, Oklahoma State, UNC-G and Elon. He will be taking an unofficial visit to Elon tomorrow.
6’2 ’20 Jackeem Herbin
Joining Williams in the backcourt is Herbin, a relatively new face in the recruiting scene. He’s a strong, athletic combo-guard that can play above the rim and really shoot the ball. Herbin scores with great ease, but has the ability to play as the main creator in a pinch and displays a very natural feel for his teammates. Like Williams, he utilizes his body quite well around the basket and possesses a beautiful-looking jumper. Herbin has massive hands, which allows him to attack the glass, secure rebounds, and push in transition—where he’s truly problematic for any type of opponent. He’s arguably the most well-rounded player on this team, given his ability to rebound and defend. There are few backcourts in North Carolina that could go toe-to-toe with Burlington Christian, especially with the addition of Herbin, who has all the makings of a Division I prospect. It’s almost unfathomable that he has such little action happening within his recruitment, but that should definitely change over the next few months. He will also be on an unofficial visit to Elon tomorrow.
6’6 ’20 Collin Wilson
In many ways, Wilson will be the X-Factor for this squad, considering he’s their biggest player by a vast margin. He’s tall and knows how to score the ball in a variety of ways. Right now, he’s in the process of becoming a perimeter player, but has built his foundation as a big man. Wilson has great efficiency as a pick-and-pop player, but will need to improve as a ball-handler in order to operate from the wing on offense. He runs the floor well and has a fundamental approach to both sides of the ball. Wilson should be the leading rebounder on this team and has clear upside as a defender. If he can transition to the perimeter, it could be a scary sight for opponents, but Wilson does the most damage to opposing big men at the moment. We’ll be closely watching his progression throughout the next two years.
6’4 ’21 Ryan Roberts
We first saw Roberts with Coach Bernardi and the North Carolina ICE squad earlier this year, where he was among the top players within the program. He has a lot of potential as a scorer, given his shooting ability and natural feel around the perimeter. Roberts works hard and is still just beginning to unlock his two-way upside. If he gets quicker, opponents will struggle with him on both ends of the floor.
Other Notable Contributors
5’10 ’21 Isaiah Escobar
The backcourt will be overflowing with talent, so Escobar will definitely be a useful role player on this roster. He brings amazing energy to the floor and works very hard on defense. Escobar is at his best in transition and should be a nice two-way contributor this season.
6’0 ’21 Jayron Rankin
The guard prospect did not practice today, as he’s recovering from a torn meniscus and will return sometime in December. He’s a freak-athlete with a blossoming skillset and interesting potential as a floor general.
5’11 ’19 Nathan Oakes
Another solid role player that provides great energy on both ends of the floor; he’s a sneaky-athlete that can rebound and finish above the rim whenever necessary.
6’1 ’19 Jadon Yellock
Despite being undersized for a big man, Yellock truly knows how to make opponents uncomfortable through use of his strong motor. He doesn’t force any action on offense and might be the best inch-for-inch rebounder on the team. Due to the lack of size on this team, Yellock could have a fantastic season playing on the front line.