Covering Prospective Student-Athletes in the SouthEast US and beyond
Charlotte, NC – For the 2nd straight year I attended the Providence Day Super Scrimmage, which featured 28 High Schools from mostly North Carolina. Having been last year coupled with my attendance at the LBI Elite 48, I had a pretty good idea of many of the top players. As always though there were some new players that emerged on my radar.
Last year, I shared a hotel room with “Basketball Bob” Corwin during many of my travels. During this time we spent many hours comparing and contrasting high school teams. Not just the most talented but the teams that had significant talent and brought it all together to be a great team. Now whenever I go to a high school event, I try my best to not only watch the top players but also the top teams.
I’ve tried to add disclaimers because as 1 person I don’t get to watch every game. At Providence Day School, I mainly watched the main court and popped over to the side court during some pivotal games. I didn’t make it to Ridenhour Gym, so I was not witness to any of the games up that way. Based on what I personally saw these were my thoughts.
Top 5 Teams –
Heritage – It’s early, I’ve only been to 3 HS team events, but this is the best team I’ve personally put eyes on. They have a good amount of talent, but it’s not the talent that makes them great. It’s their ability to share the ball, understand what good shots are and overall function as a unit. They have 3 super talented juniors in Demi Washington, Alcenia Purnell and Cydney Johnson plus a senior PG in Morehead State commit, Alissa Smalls. They lack a true post player but they get after it defensively and have enough size they should have a shot at winning a state title this year after losing in the final 4 last year.
Hickory Ridge – Talk about a loaded roster. Hickory Ridge was the beneficiary of a number of transfers including Georgetown commit, Courtney Meadows and UNCC commit Rinnah Greene. This ready made backcourt joins junior UNC commit Nia Daniel, an ultra athletic wing and Western Carolina commit, post Gabby Smith. Rounding out the line-up is freshmen Reigan Richardson, one of the top freshmen nationally. With all the new pieces, Hickory Ridge will likely peak later in the season when it matters most. That’s not saying they didn’t look good at PDS, they did, I just think their best basketball is still in front of them as they continue to gel throughout the season.
TRC Academy – One of top programs in Canada the last 2 years, TRC features 2 of Canada’s best in the 2019 class, PG Aerial Wilson and wing Makayla Ennis. This is program that has plenty of size featuring 7 players over 6′. They’ve lost a lot from last season including Michigan freshmen Hailey Brown and 2018 Arizona St. commit Taya Hanson but still have plenty of firepower to compete with the top high schools in the US.
Carolina Day – Coach Joe Carrington is one of the top coaches in a state filled with good coaches (Delaney Rudd, Barb Nelson, etc). He’s got a PG in Austin Peay commit Kasey Kidwell who has a refuse to lose attitude. She’s a kid you love to have on your team but hate to play against her. There’s a few other returning pieces there in 2020 Annabelle Shultz & 2019 Nautica Smiley. Their experience will make them one of the top independent schools in the state.
South Meck – When I first started covering girls basketball in the mid-2000s, Joy Cheek was leading South Meck to a national Top 25 ranking. They really haven’t been on my radar much since, but this is a quality South Meck team, arguably in the top 3 or 4 in the Charlotte area. They feature 2020 CG Shakyra Harley, a dynamic finisher and App. St. commit A’lea Gilbert in the post. Their other starters are scholarship level players and they should win most of their games against the other Charlotte area schools.
Legacy Early College
Top Committed Players –
Alissa Smalls – Heritage – Morehead St.
Rinnah Greene – Hickory Ridge – UNC-Charlotte
Courtney Meadows – Hickory Ridge – Georgetown
Nia Daniel – Hickory Ridge – UNC
Lauren Carter – SW Guilford – Campbell
A’lea Gilbert – South Meck – Appalachian St.
D’Shara Booker – Ardrey Kell – Austin Peay
Skylar Curran – West Forsyth – High Point
Shamani Stafford – Concord 1st Assembly – Presbyterian
Kasey Kidwell – Carolina Day – Austin Peay
Shaniya Jones – Wesleyan – VA Tech
Kendra Ross – East Rutherford – NC A & T
Kennedy Boyd – PDS – UNC
Top Uncommitted Players –
Demi Washington – 5’11 Point Forward – 2019 – Heritage – I first saw Demi last year at this event and was impressed. She’s gotten better and her body looks better too. A super athlete with a ton of strength, it seemed like every ball she got her hand on, she came away with. At 5’11 can play a multitude of positions, a powerful player, yet has the ability to knock down the 3 ball or create for her teammates. Has a game similar to Lebron James.
Aerial Wilson – 5’9 PG – 2019 – TRC Academy – A dynamic PG, I’ve written about Aerial on numerous occasions. She has the ability to shoot the 3 ball, finish in acrobatic ways and distribute the ball to her teammates. Her basketball IQ is above average and her experience playing international basketball (U16 & U17 Canadian National Team) has prepared her to be a star in high school level ball.
Makayla Ennis – 6’1 Wing – 2019 – TRC Academy – Long and lanky, Ennis is particularly good in transition and playing passing lanes. Her body is built for basketball, with her long arms she’s a good rebounder for a wing player and she’s a great rim attacker. Her left hand needs a little work but her upside is huge.
Shakyra Harley – 5’6 CG – 2020 – South Meck – One of the top new names I came across at the event, Shakyra is a smooth combo guard who is just starting to scratch the surface of how good she can be. Being a sophomore on a senior laden team, Harley at times defers to her teammates, which isn’t a bad thing because it’s teaching her to share the ball in a positive way. She had some amazing finishes and a humble attitude.
Malaya Cowles – 6’3 Post – 2021 – Wilkes Central – Another new name to me is Malaya Cowles, a 6’3 freshmen post. Wilkes Central is a rural school about 75 minutes north of Charlotte. Thankfully, their coach plays in this event yearly and wbb recruiting people were able to see Malaya. While she’s not overly strong or overly skilled at this point in her career, the foundation is there. She handled the ball in transition a few times, posted up, received the ball and scored back to the basket. Another time she caught the ball at the elbow took a dribble and finished. She’s going to need to continue to develop but if she does, she will be a major D-1 prospect.
Taylor Blakely – 5’11 SG – 2018 – Atkins – Arguably the top uncommitted player at the event, Blakely has great size & build (long, wiry) for a guard. Nice lift and smooth stroke on her jump shot, she was a frequent rim attacker in the half court. Used both hands to finish within 5-6 feet of the basket, including an impressive left hand floater (she’s right handed).
Mikenzie Harvin – 5’7 PG – 2019 – Lexington – My good friend David Kent recommended I go watch Harvin who’s team never played on the main floor. The thing that really stood out was how good she passed the ball, making some really tough passes look easy. A good catch and shoot player, she knocked down at least 2 3’s in the game I watched. Very smooth player, never tried to do too much.
Anayah Rice – 5’11 PG – 2019 – Legacy Early College – I first saw Rice a month ago at the LBI event and I wrote about her then as one of the top players. She’s a long, lanky, athletic PG with great size at the position. Her upside is through the roof and coach LaCheryl Smith is going to get the most out of her.
MiLeia Owens – 5’3 CG – 2020 – Providence Day School
Cydney Johnson – 5’11 W – 2019 – Heritage
Alcenia Purnell – 5’7 SG – 2019 – Heritage
Xianna Josephs – 6’2 Post – 2018 – TRC Academy
Ruthie Jones – 6′ W – 2019 – Charlotte Latin
Reigan Richardson – 5’11 W – 2021 – Hickory Ridge
Faith Price – 5’8 CG – 2019 – SW Guilford
Shariah Gaddy – 5’11 W – 2019 – South Meck
Michelle Ojo – 6′ W – 2021 – Ardrey Kell
Kennedy Cash – 5’8 CG – 2019 – Ardrey Kell
Camille Small – 5’9 SG – 2018 – Concord 1st Assembly
Annabelle Schultz – 5’8 SG – 2020 – Carolina Day School
Iycez Adams – 6′ W – 2021 – Wesleyan
Zakiyah Moss – 5’6 CG – 2022 – Legacy Early College