This week, we took a closer look at the top five from North Carolina’s Class of 2022 and today we will highlight those that just narrowly missed the first cut. Keep in mind, this class is supremely talented and various top tier prospects are just beginning to establish themselves within the bigger picture. As mentioned yesterday, these are merely the opinions of the writer and are not Phenom Hoops’ official rankings.
6’8 Deante Green (Christ School/Team CP3)
It’s easy to see what makes Green so appealing for college coaches, given his clear offensive identity and vast arsenal of physical tools. He possesses excellent size, strength, and feel for his position, which allows him to control the action from around the basket—both as a scorer and rebounder. Green has a lot of poise and craftiness in the post, but is also capable of stepping out and knocking down perimeter shots whenever necessary. He utilizes both hands extremely well, able to display soft touch or play aggressively above the rim for dunks. Green is a pretty useful passer from the post and understands how to mix things up on offense. He properly understands how to clear out space and rebound the ball on both ends of the floor. There’s already a lot to like about his two-way presence, but it’s likely that Green will only continue to get better.
6’7 DJ Nix (Cannon/B. Maze Elite)
Throughout the last few years, Nix has arguably been the most underrated prospect within this class, especially considering his undeniable productivity. He’s big, strong, and truly understands how to impose his will against opponents on both ends of the floor. Nix has an impeccable blend of skill and athleticism at the current stage of his development and has the IQ to apply those traits on both ends of the floor. He’s a capable shooter, but certainly prefers to attack the basket and finish through contact, which is easily his most efficient scoring avenue. Nix handles the ball and sees the floor well, especially for his size/position, and is capable of creating quality scoring chances in a pinch. He is as mature as any player in the class, both physically and mentally, and leads by example extremely well. Nix is a very well-rounded forward prospect that should become increasingly coveted by high-level programs going forward.
6’4 Kheni Briggs (A.L. Brown/Team CP3)
There’s a surplus of talent on the Team CP3 roster, as they have three of the top seven on this list and Briggs is as valuable as any of the aforementioned guys. He’s a smart, overwhelmingly strong guard prospect that can control both sides of the ball without forcing the action or stepping out of his comfort zone. Briggs can easily lead an efficient offense in scoring or assists, simply by maintaining his consistent approach from one game to the next. He’s phenomenal at getting downhill and attacking the basket, especially in transition, and displays a willingness to make the right play whenever possible. Briggs is a very instinctual defender with the ability to accumulate steals by utilizing his strength and playing the passing lanes. He’s been a two-way force for quite a while, but Briggs simply continues to get better while establishing himself as a top-tier talent.
6’1 Anthony Breland (Lincoln Charter/Team United)
After nationally-ranked Jaden Bradley and Jalen Hood-Schifino, the most enticing floor general is Breland, who is as smooth and polished as they come. He’s arguably the best shooter on this list so far, especially from beyond the arc, but is capable of scoring the ball efficiently from all three levels. Breland handles the ball with care and displays sharp passing instincts when looking to create for others. He breaks down opponents extremely well and is capable of manipulating defenses with his blend of shooting and passing. Breland has a quality feel for the game and understands how to offer balance on the offensive end of the floor. Defensively, he is useful and has continued to get better with additional playing experience over the last year. Breland is unselfish and plays within himself on both ends of the floor. He’s already a very intriguing floor general, but expect him to get even better through the current summer season.
5’11 Cam Oates (Trinity Christian/Team Loaded)
Narrowing down the final spot was another difficult decision, but Oates ultimately snagged it with his proven production and two-way identity. He’s not as big or physically imposing as the other players inside the top ten, but he has as much polish and clearly defined skill as anyone on the list. Oates is an excellent three-level scorer with quickness and the ability to make plays for himself or others with relative ease. He has a sharp feel for the game and it’s evident with each movement he makes. Oates is a team-first point guard that passes the ball extremely well, yet his scoring allows him to play either backcourt position in a pinch. He’s quite smooth with the ball in his hands and does a great job of getting by the point of attack. Oates was arguably the most reliable freshman at Trinity Christian last season and has maintained that notion with Team Loaded through the early travel season.