I had the wonderful opportunity to work the single greatest high school event in the country; The 47th Annual John Wall Holiday Invitational at Broughton High School, Inside the Beltline, in downtown Raleigh. There was an abundance of talent in this years event leading to four consecutive days of sold out crowds. 3500+ fans from the #HoopState filled the stands creating the single greatest atmosphere in prep basketball there is to be seen. Let’s take a look at some of the storylines stemming from this tournament for the rest of the High School Season.
This Athens Drive Backcourt Needs to be Taken Seriously
6’1 2019 Chase Graham, 6’1 2019 DJ Robertson (Northern Kentucky Signee), and 6’0 2020 Lawrence Frost come together to create one of the best backcourts in the state of North Carolina and they all compliment one another incredibly well. Graham is the best shooter of the bunch and does most of his damage off the ball, spotting up from deep and making defenses pay with a fully loaded clip, and isn’t afraid to let the opposition know about what’s happening. Graham exploded for 32 Points, going 6/11 from deep in a win against Trinity of Raleigh. Robertson is probably the fastest player with the ball in the Carolinas outside of Mikey Dukes, possessing the ability to take over a game with his speed at any point of the contest. He has an incredible layup package around the cup, getting his fair shares of “Oooohs and ahhhs” from the crowd over the course of the event. For Robertson his next step is maintaining a consistent presence throughout the game in every contest, but when you’re dealing with a talented player like this it’s hard to find a ton of flaws in his game. Robertson’s competitive fire will continue to help him as he progresses to the next level, I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes in college. Lawrence Frost brings a junkyard dawg mentality to every game and his energy is contagious for his Athens Drive squad. He’s the best on-ball defender of the bunch and is willing to sacrifice his numbers for the betterment of the team. He still finds a way to produce at a high level with his strong frame helping him get downhill for easy buckets. He’s a bonafide scholarship level talent at this point, and should have a huge summer for Team Wall on the adidas circuit.
Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine are THE Best Duo in America
This was my first viewing of the the dynamic duo from Tipton Falls, New Jersey and they were simply sensational in every way. Scottie Lewis (Florida Signee) lived up to the expectation set by my superior Jamie Shaw when he told me that Scottie was one of, if not, the best on-ball wing defender in America. He showed flashes of brilliance on that end of the court, embracing high profile matchups and willing his team to a championship. He has a chance to go to Florida and be an immediate 1st Team All Defense kind of kid at the very least… his offensive game is also well rounded and versatile. He initiates offense for his team, uses his athleticism to finish over defenders at the rim, while also being able to create for himself off the bounce at all times, and make any shot on the court. The next step for him is consistency from the perimeter, but at this point we’re just nitpicking with Lewis… he’s the definition of a do it all wing and is one of the nicest, most charismatic 18 year olds you’ll ever come across. He’s a kid you just have to root for. Bryan Antoine is the smoothest wing at the high school level I’ve seen since RJ Barrett with his ability to go for 30+ in such an effortless fashion. He creates for himself with 0-2 dribbles better than just about anybody I’ve seen at the high school level, facing up in the high post he’s unstoppable, catching it on the wing from 25 feet out he’s gonna score on you… it’s just a never ending attack from the Villanova signee that should have an instant impact in Philly. He is also a high character kid that simply understands how to carry himself like a professional at the ripe age of 18. I wish they could’ve stuck together in college, but these two boys from the garden state understand how to get the job done, earning the respect of the HoopState and coming away with a championship in the same weekend… I don’t know what else they can ask for.
Quinten Thomas of West Charlotte NEEDS to be On the Radar of D1s as the Season Progresses
Talk about kids who “get it” Quinten Thomas is at the top of the list in my eyes in regards to unsigned seniors. The 6’4 wing guard has what it takes to be a coaches favorite at the next level with his vocal leadership, effort, and tenacity to go with his willingness to be a “defense first” guy, always looking to check the oppositions best guard/wing and does so at a high level. Offensively he has come an incredibly long way as a catch and shoot guy with the ability to put it on the deck to get downhill, or pull-up in the mid-range at an efficient rate. He was offered by Western Carolina for FOOTBALL, DESPITE NEVER PLAYING IT BEFORE due to his natural physical and athletic gifts. Thomas tells me at this point he’s “Open to any and everything” so schools should head down to West Charlotte to check him out sooner rather than later.
Downey Christian Actually Has Some Talent… And It’s Not Who You Think
Julian Newman is one of the most polarizing figures in high school basketball and for good reason… the kid has talent, he takes (and occasionally makes) some wild shots, all while starting his own brand, appearing on national television at a young age, and being in the public eye for what feels like a decade now. With all of that being said, it appears he has no intention of playing college basketball. Instead of playing AAU like most high school kids this summer he was playing at SneakerCon celebrity games so he and his family could push the “Prodigy” brand, which is something that can be really good for he and his family if they decide to continue to push the brand while Julian explores his basketball options. The thing about Downey Christian is that they have some real talent on their roster, particularly with 6’3 2021 Emmanual Maldonado and 6’6 2019 Eduardo Peralta. According to Verbal Commits, Maldonado has an offer from Bethune-Cookman and interest from a handful of other schools. He’s a smooth combo guard that can really shoot from the perimeter and does an excellent job creating space for himself off the bounce. He has a high basketball IQ and if he continues to develop should end up being a really good D1 prospect. Peralta is a high level D2 big man with excellent footwork and a strong frame to go with it. He should attract a lot of attention from D2 Programs looking to fill out their 2019 class as the season comes to an end.