Every year a new batch of kids head off to college where they can achieve their dreams both in the classroom, and on the basketball court. North Carolina’s 2019 class was filled with special basketball talent, but also a special group of people, let’s take a look at some of the 2019 kids we can’t wait to see flourish at the next level.
6’3 CG Caleb Mills: University of Houston (AAC)
I think we should’ve renamed July 2018 “The official month of Caleb Mills” because he flat out owned the stage that was provided for him. Cameras, coaches, scouts, and the fears of the opposition followed Mills everywhere he went, and for good reason. He was simply the most impressive scoring guard on the east coast and it resulted in dozens of offers in a short amount of time, eventually leading to a commitment to coach Kelvin Sampson and The University of Houston. What Mills brings to the table as a player is an unrelenting barrage of buckets, the kid simply finds a way to produce night in and night out to the point where you have no choice but to respect it. It appears Mills will have the chance to get some serious playing time after enrolling at Houston in January of 2019, and I have no doubt he’s going to contribute right away, leaving people wondering “how the hell did this kid get out of NC?”. Mills has a legitimate shot to be a pro if he handles his business at Houston, his offensive arsenal is deep, it translates, and it’s aesthetically enjoyable to watch. This silent killer has a chance for a really special season.
6’7 F Greg Gantt: Providence College (Big East)
From the start of the year up until his season ending hand injury, no player in the HoopState was on a mission quite like Greg Gantt. With both Joey Baker and Au’Diese Toney gone to college after their respective reclassifications, Gantt had the task of leading a talented Trinity Christian team on one of the toughest schedules for any team in NC. Gantt played with pride, purpose, and the same motor that got him dozens of division one scholarship offers. Trinity Christian had some incredible moments in the Phenom National Showcase, Hoops & Dreams, The Crown Town Classic, and The John Wall Holiday Invitational before Greg hurt his hand and missed the rest of the season. He is the epitome of an impact defender, guarding just about any position on the floor and then killing you on the other end with a wide ranging offensive skillset. He can initiate offense, shoot the 3 ball, finish at and above the rim with the best of them, and at the end of the day win you basketball games. Most think Greg will have an immediate impact at Providence, I think he’s a first team all freshman big east guy, and might be in the running for all defensive team as well. Gantt is an awesome person that will thrive in all aspects of college, not just basketball.
6’7 F Derricko Williams: UNCG (Southern Conference)
In regards to pure excitement, I don’t know if there are many players throughout the entire region that can top Williams. He’s a powerful, incredibly explosive and effective forward that plays the game with a serious edge. His motor is always ready to start, he’s simply going to outwork the opposition, looking to put whoever is in front of him in the rim in the blink of an eye. He reminds me a lot of Jordan Bell, a super bouncy and powerful 6’7 forward that has some ball skills and an ever expanding perimeter skillset. Pairing him up with his former CP3 EYBL teammates in Kobe and Keyshaun Langley will only pay dividends for Williams and this UNCG program. They have the system in place to accomplish a lot of special things with Williams at the forefront. It’s great for North Carolina that UNCG is able to keep talented guys with high major offers in-state at a mid-major program. I’m really excited to see how Williams career unfolds.
6’6 F Gavin Rains: Queens University of Charlotte (South Atlantic Conference, Division Two)
Gavin Rains has a legitimate shot at being one of the better freshman in all of Division Two Basketball if he handles his business. He’s an unrelenting scoring/rebounding force that finds a way to play a productive brand of basketball no matter who’s in front of him. He had some memorable performances towards the end of his high school career, his confidence is high, and I totally expect to see that carry over into the start of his career at NCAA Division Two powerhouse Queens University of Charlotte. It appears that he’ll get the minutes necessary to have a major impact, and with the the buzz around the program signaling the likelihood of Rains having a special career being really high, I cannot wait to see what he has in store for his freshman year. He is the kind of kid that would’ve been a good get for a lot of in-state low-mid major programs, those are the kind of guys Queens typically puts in a great position to succeed, I expect nothing different than the big man from Wheatmore.
6’3 PG Caleb Burgess: Hofstra (CAA)
Caleb Burgess is responsible for quite a few impressive feats in his high school career. He overcame family tragedy when his sister Celeste passed away a few years back, persevering through the loss of someone he calls his best friend. He helped kickstart the Moravian Prep High School Program that looks to be on the path to becoming a national powerhouse. He went toe to toe with the nations top Point Guard (Cole Anthony) in one of the most memorable high school games I’ve ever covered in last years Carmel Christian Tip Off Classic. Starting last year with a single division one offer from NC A&T, Burgess was on a mission to provide himself with options at the next level, his hard work payed off and he received a handful of offers throughout the season, before ultimately committing to Hofstra. What I love about Burgess is that he isn’t going to be the best shooter on the floor, he’s not the most explosive guy in the gym, but what he does is compete, make those around him better, and ultimately find a way to win basketball games with his effort at both ends of the court. There aren’t many guards on the east coast I’d rather go to war with than Burgess, the kid simply finds a way.