Phenom’s Open Gym Tour
Ravenscroft School (Raleigh, NC)
By Jamie Shaw
Year after year Kevin Billerman has talent stacked up at Ravenscroft School. In recent years, players such as Ike Copeland, Marcus Bryan, Anton Gill, Madison Jones, Chris & Tommy Corchiani, Luke Davis, Matt Wilson, Ian Dubose and many others have gone on to play Division 1 basketball. Even Ryan Kelley has gone on to forge an NBA career after graduating from Ravenscroft.
To say Billerman has built a proud basketball program would be an understatement. He is to the point now where he just reloads the talent, year over year. This team is not different at all. There is a lot of talent here. On Tuesday, when Phenom Hoops took in Open Gym, St Joe’s Head Coach Phil Martelli, Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft and Boston University assistant Walt Corbean were all in line watching as well.
Let’s take a look at the construct of this year’s team…
The Unquestioned Leader
It was obvious from the first play of practice, all eyes (on the team) were on 6’1” 2018 Chris Barnette. Throughout practice, they ran 3 on 3 half court pick up for an hour/hour and a half, Barnette’s team did not lose. It was a thing of beauty, how every game, every possession Barnette found a way to win. What is more astonishing is that Division 1 schools are not lined up 4 and 5 deep each practice to watch him.
Barnette is a proven winner, at every level. He is a consummate point guard in that he takes care of the ball, values possessions, defends the ball very well and can shoot the cover off the ball from deep range. He is incredibly efficient and most importantly he is a winner who makes winning plays on both ends of the floor, at an incredibly high rate. Whoever lands this one will be getting a multi year starter and a player that will lead that teams to wins.
The Brute in the Paint
From the college coaches stand point, all eyes were on 6’9” 2018 Jack Hemphill. Hemphill has recently taken a visit to UNC Wilmington and set another official visit to Wisconsin at the end of the month. After setting the Wisconsin official visit, who spent the entire day in Raleigh yesterday attending 2 Ravenscroft practices, Hemphill’s recruitment has taken another jump. After his performance on Tuesday, St Joe’s Head Coach Phil Martelli offered Hemphill a scholarship.
Hemphill is a big who knows he is a big. He has solid straight line lift and good length. What really stands out about Hemphill is his footwork and his ability to knock down perimeter shots. He is truly and inside-out type of big. He can beat you with an array of go-to post moves and counters or he can step out and pick and pop your big to death on the perimeter. It will be interesting to see how his recruitment plays out.
Has Taken the Next Step
Possibly the best player in the Open Gym, not named Chris Barnette, was 6’8” 2019 Jake Van Der Heijden. This is a huge step for him as he has always had the potential, but the light is final coming on of Van Der Heijden and all of that projection is turning into production. The stretch big man, has great face up skills whether it is shooting with deep range or putting it on the floor from the wing.
After Christmas last year, as a sophomore, Van Der Heijden shot 44% from 3-point line. The lefty, who carries a 4.0 GPA, has now added an inch or so and some bounce. He routinely attacked the rim, finishing high above with 2-hands in traffic. He is a totally new player that he has been in the past, and with that he needs to find consistency in himself. Once that settles in, he has a chance to be a highly recruited Division 1 prospect.
Ravenscroft is going to have great size and skill on this team. Naturally the three players above will be the focal points of what Billerman does, however the future is very bright. 6’6” freshman Eric Van Der Heijden (brother of Jake) will get some good minutes on varsity as will 6’9” 2020 Myles Evans. Eric has all the tools, the footwork the skills and the toughness to progress into a very intriguing player moving forward. Myles, who spent 5 weeks at Princeton this summer in their STEM program, is a lefty with great length and 3 level skills.
Both players should be fun to track, this year they will play solid roles however moving into next year (and beyond) they should become the focal pieces of this proud basketball program.