This weekend kicks off the high school basketball season in the Hoop State. North Carolina is the epicenter of high school basketball, when it comes to talent, when it comes to coverage North Carolina is second to none.

This weekend will be the first of a few things in the Hoop State. Most notably, Carmel Christian’s Tip Off Classic will be the first time a shot clock is used in game. This event will also be the first time Phenom Hoops has hosted a dunk contest within a high school event (with all the high flying talent participating, we couldn’t resist).

Carmel Christian Tip-Off Classic will kick off at 6PM tonight (Friday, November 9). Tickets on Friday will be $10 at the door. On Saturday (November 10) games will tip off at 2PM. The dunk contest will be at 5PM. Tickets on Saturday are $15 at the door. Children 8 and under will be free both days.

4-Star Commitments to Alabama and Louisville
Everyone knows that star power drives butts in the seats, well this event has star power. Two of the top players are Alabama commit Juwan Gary (Liberty Heights) and Louisville commit Josh Nickelberry (Northwood Temple). Both players are among the top five players in North Carolina’s senior class and are firmly planted among the nation’s Top 100 prospects.

Nickelberry will start is senior campaign to become North Carolina’s Gatorade State Player of the Year. If early indications from Session 1 of Phenom’s High School Jamboree last week, the high scoring shooting guard is in line to put up some ridiculous scoring totals.

Juwan Gary will be making his bid at an invite to the Jordan Brand All Star game. This is well within reach, Gary is a high flying, high scoring wing who is capable of both captivating crowds and putting up incredible numbers. Look for a huge year from Gary, he is on a mission right now.

A Breakout for Hickory Grove Christian Sophomores
Each season players come out of no where and breakout. They come from a place under the radar, take ahold of their situation. This season we expect Hickory Grove Christian to have two of this type of player.

6’3” sophomore AJ Smith will soon become a hot name among ACC and SEC recruiting boards. The strong and explosive point guard plays downhill and aggressively on both ends of the floor. 6’9” sophomore Jacori Owens already carries an early Charlotte offer, is a high motor paint/rim protector. He has good hands and is tough. It may not be this year for Owens, but rest assured the offers will be hot and heavy for him by the time he graduates.

Just know this, Hickory Grove Christian is close to becoming must see tv. Do yourself a favor and get in earlier rather than later.

A Pair of Top 25 Teams Start Their Years
Of course rankings in November don’t matter near as much as the rankings in March. However, there are a lot of expectations set, on a national level, for these programs and their season’s start this weekend and Carmel Christian’s Tip Off Classic.

Hall of Famer Steve Smith has been the Head Coach of Oak Hill Academy since 1983. In that time frame he has won 8 National Championships and amassed a 981-64 career record. Yes that is a 94% win percentage! Having coached the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo, Jerry Stackhouse and many more. This year’s Oak Hill team, on paper, may be one of his best…certainly his best (again on paper) over the last 5-10 years.

They start the season ranked #2 in Ron Flores Fab 50 powered by Ballislife. They are led by the USA Today’s top high school prospect, Cole Anthony. Also ranked among the Top 50 in the 2019 class are 6’10” Kofi Cockburn and 6’7” Christian Brown. High scoring junior Cam Thomas is sure to soar up recruiting boards and become a 5-star prospect. He is on a quest to average 30 points per game this season.

While Oak Hill is used to being the hunted, Carmel Christian (the host school) is new to this national notoriety. Carmel Christian starts the season ranked #23 in Ron Flores Fab 50 powered by Ballislife. They are the defending NCISAA 2A state champions and return everyone. Led by a starting 5 who has all already committed to Division 1 programs. They then come off the bench with three other players who carry Division 1 offers.

Look for a smothering defensive style of play from this uber-talented group who attacks and plays high above the rim. North Carolina’s top team typically earns an invite to play in the prestigious Dick’s Nationals, can Carmel Christian to start to finish as North Carolina’s top team?

North Carolina Shot Clock
This item has been a major talking point over the last year, one where opinions have been very black or white on one side or the other. Well, the talking points have been taken out of the equation and the shot clock is here. For seven games this weekend, Carmel Christian’s Tip-Off Classic will be a test study to see how this works.

The NCISAA has given the ok, and all the state associations will be watching. Most certainly this will not be an immediate switch, however this will go a long way in setting the standard and realigning the conversation.

Like it or not, basketball is progressing and Phenom Hoops is at the forefront of the conversation. Currently, eight states and many of the biggest national events use a shot clock. Add another elite event to that list and possibly another state, in the future.

First High School Game for Top 15 Freshman Jaden Bradley
Bradley has been making waves for a couple of years now, since he first burst onto the scene playing for the Team CP3 7th grade team two years ago and winning a national title. Two years later, he has been a standout at Team USA training camp and enters this week (prior to having played a high school game), as a Top 25 prospect in his class.

Bradley has a smooth and explosive feel for the game. He has a tight handle and gets downhill quickly. He also has vision can be a shot maker at multiple levels. Yes, there is a lot to like with him in current day, but also a lot to like with his progression moving forward.

He has been a standout at every level, in every setting he has played. He should not skip a beat and, as a top 25 prospect, should be a stand out in high school. Without question, it will be exciting to watch him in his first high school game at Carmel Christian’s Tip Off Classic this weekend.