It was a huge sigh of relief to be able to enter a gym and watch kids get up and down the court, even if it required wearing a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from everyone. It’s apparent that kids have been finding ways to stay active and work on their game during this entire pandemic. A couple of players really caught my eye over the course of the week during my visit to North Carolina.
(Name – Height, Pos. | School | City, State | Grad. Year)
Kevion Waller – 5’6”, PG | J.H. Rose HS | Greenville, NC | 2022
This young point guard is a ball-player. Despite his size, he is able to create havoc on both ends of the floor against players of all sizes. He approaches the game the right way and makes everyone around him better. Defensively, he does a great job turning ball-handlers and forcing them into uncomfortable spots on the floor. Offensively, he uses his size to his advantage by getting low to get around defenders. He has next level footwork with the ball in his hands and doesn’t appear fazed by any defense thrown at him. Has all of the tools that you want to see from a productive scholarship level point guard.
Avion Pinner – 6’7”, F | Riverside HS | Williamston, NC | 2022
Expect a breakout season from the rising junior out of Williamston, NC. Despite taking the floor with several high caliber athletes of all levels, Pinner stood out in a great way. He showed the ability to create consistently from the wing, mid-post and in the paint around the basket. Whether it was a fadeaway jumper, catching a lob or creating off the dribble, he showed the ability to do it all. He already has the prototypical height and length that you want from a college wing. If he’s able to chisel his upper body and become even more physically imposing, he could blow up big-time, especially on the east coast. This kid could be a gem out of Williamston.
Terry Moore 6’1″, PG | Washington HS | Washington, NC | 2022
This rising prospect out of Washington is a physically imposing guard prospect that is bound to have a few viral worthy plays one day. He currently possesses a strong and chiseled frame, one that he uses well to bounce defenders off of him. As a rebounding guard, he simply is too strong and jumps much higher than your typical guard. I would not be shocked to see him among rebounding leaders despite playing the guard position. Off the dribble, he is able to muscle his way to the rim and does a solid job as a catch and shoot player. If he gets a first step on you, he will bring down the house. A lot to like here.
William Brimmer – 6’4”, G | New Bern HS | New Bern, NC | 2023
Since November, Brimmer is a completely different player than he was as a freshman at New Bern High School. During the season, he started out hot and cooled down as the season went on. Teams figured out that his jump shot was inconsistent and wore him down physically. This past week, Brimmer showed glimpses of a quicker-release shot with an improved accuracy to go along with a refined physique. If this kid can continue to refine his body, improve his athleticism and conditioning, we could be looking at a big-time scorer at the high school level sooner than later.
Daquan Pate – 6’1”, PG | New Bern HS | New Bern, NC | 2022
Another surprise was this kid out of New Bern. Of all the young guards that I saw come in and out of the gym, Pate was arguably the toughest player to contain off the dribble. He is cat quick and a strong finisher around the basket. In addition to his ability to score in the paint, he does a great job setting up his teammates and he’s constantly in attack mode. I didn’t get the opportunity to see him shoot many jump-shots, so that has left me wanting to see more. However, this kid has some game. If he develops a consistent outside shot, that alone combined with his ability to create off the dribble will spell trouble for defenders over the next few years.
Manny Johnson – 5’9″, PG | West Craven MS | Vanceboro, NC | 2024
At times, it was apparent that being in a gym with older players was physically challenging. However, when the ball was in the hands of Manny, good things happened more often than not despite being one of the youngest in attendance. He has a tricky package off the dribble and makes quick decisions. Rarely does the ball stick in his hands. He will need time to get stronger, as most kids that are coming up from middle school. Once his strength and athleticism catches up to his game, he will have all the tools in place that he needs to be a solid guard. His ability to improve from year to year as a shot maker and from a physical standpoint will indicate just how far he can go.
Jalen Coward – 6’3”, G | A.G. Cox MS | Winterville, NC | 2024
Write this name down because you will hear a lot about him soon. This rising freshman can get it done offensively, even against older players. He has a solid first step and at around 6’3” he already has the hops to rise up to finish above the rim. Coming off of screens, he showed a good overall IQ and consistently made strong reads. Don’t be surprised to hear this name a ton when it’s playoff time next season.