We’re approximately three weeks into the high school basketball season and we have a few storylines that are well worth noting. First of all, the season was jump started November 14-15th at the Second Annual Phenom Hoops National High School Showcase. This was a star stubbed event that featured not only the top teams in the Carolinas, but also the country. Let’s get started with our “From the Sidelines” point of view.

The Upset

Coming into the event, Coach Steve Smith had one of his deepest teams ever at Oak Hill. Unfortunately, the first game of the season the consensus no. 1 player in the country Harry Giles came down with a season ending injury. Even without Giles, Oak Hill has depth, length and tremendous talent. After beating a very good Providence Day team on opening night by the score of 76-64, the Warriors stumbled on Saturday night and loss a stunner to 22 Foot Academy of Greensville, SC by the score of 70-67. 22 Foot Academy trailed by 18 points in the second half and rallied for the win behind 6’5 scoring guard Eli Wright. Wright was not graced on many top 100 national rankings, but the Mississippi State commit cemented his name as one of the top sleepers in the country. That being said, the early season loss may be just what the doctor ordered for Oak Hill. Knowing Steve Smith, he will use it as motivation and the team will learn from it. From our POV, we still expect Oak Hill once again competing for another mystical National High School Championship come April, 2016.

Toughness and Grit

No team has shown more toughness and grit than Providence Day of Charlotte, North Carolina. While many teams worry about national rankings, Coach Brian Field has developed “we will play anybody, anywhere and anytime mentality.” For the second straight year, Providence Day opened up the season with two of the toughest matchups at the Second Annual Phenom Hoops National High School Showcase. When the team listings were announced, 6’7 senior Grant Williams communicated to us that he wanted Oak Hill on opening night and wanted another top opponent on Saturday night. Although, Providence Day loss both games against national programs, Williams wanted the challenge to play the best teams. In speaking with head coach Brian Fields; he stated, “If it was up to Grant, he would have us play Oak Hill all 32 games.” After the two losses, Providence Day then travelled to High Point to play Wesleyan Christian Academy who featured five D1 players. Not an easy task, but Providence Day walked away with an impressive road win over a really good Wesleyan team by the score of 77-71. In addition, Providence Day had wins over other nationally ranked programs and defeated Word of God 84-66, High Point Christian 76-66, and Greensboro Day 55-50. Providence Day now stands 7-2 on the young season and has been battle tested along the way. Kudos to Coach Brian Fields and his team for accepting the challenges of playing one of the toughest preseason schedules in the country in our opinion!

Early MVPs

While many players have made statements thus far early in the season, no one has shown more than 6’7 Sr. Grant Williams and 6’2 So. Devon Dotson of Providence Day. If we were doing an early season All State team, there is no way you could leave these two off the first five.

6’7 ’16 Grant Williams

Many in-state schools didn’t think Williams was big enough or athletic enough to play at a high major level. In addition, many pundits even thought Tennessee was a stretch for Williams. While many people gave reasons why he couldn’t play at a high major level, many didn’t do their homework. For the season, Grant Williams is averaging 17.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 3 APG, 6 SPG, and 2.4 BPG. (Stats provided by HC Brian Fields) These are impressive numbers to say the least and it’s being done against high level teams and players.

Williams has become more explosive off the bounce. He rebounds with a “Charles Barkley” mentality and is one of the best competitors in the state. After opening up with two early season losses to Oak Hill and Mountain Mission, we received a message from Williams accepting the blame for the loss and guaranteeing wins over Word of God and High Point Christian. Williams has a tremendous heart and is a high scholar athlete that also sported offers from Ivy League Schools. In addition, Williams is young for his age as he recently just turned 17. That being said, with Williams, you simply can’t add up all the intangibles he brings to the game. Those things don’t always show up in the box score.

6’2 ’18 Devon Dotson

Back in 2012 at our NC Junior Phenom camp, we wrote, “Dotson is a highly skilled player that did everything well. He has tremendous/advanced ball handling skills and unbelievable court vision. In addition, he was tremendous in creating his own shot off the dribble.” Even we didn’t think his development would be so pronounced this early in his high school career.

At the Phenom Hoop National High School Showcase, McDonald All American voting member Clark Francis was comparing Dotson to a young Chris Paul. Immediately after the two losses at our event, we watched Providence Day pull out its first win of the season by defeating Wesleyan Christian by the score of 77-71.

In our write up, we wrote “Dotson is emerging as a star on the national stage.” The quick and talented PG is a master of changing speeds throughout the game was able to dribble penetrate at will. He finished with a team high 22 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists. More importantly, Dotson went an impressive 12-14 from the free throw line. Dotson plays with tremendous poise and is the team’s floor general. He is definitely tracking as a high major prospect.”

Since then, Dotson has been instrumental and has led Providence Day to seven straight wins over Wesleyan Christian, Southlake Christian, Word of God, High Point Christian, Greensboro Day, Ravenscroft, and Durham Academy. In addition, he is averaging 18.7 PPG, 4.2 APG, 3.6 RPG and 1.4 SPG. (Stats provided by HC Brian Fields) Dotson is a “lead by example” type player. He’s not the most vocal player on the court, but his actions simply do all the talking on the court. He’s also gotten more accolades and comparison. While only a sophomore, pundits have thrown around names like Chris Paul and Derek Rose. Whatever person you wish to compare him too, the best part of Dotson is he’s a winner!

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