Roanoke Rapids, NC – It appears that a star is emerging in 8th grader (2027) Anthony Roberts from Chaloner Middle School.
My first time hearing of him was roughly 4 years ago via a text message. “Keep an eye out for AJ Roberts in this area. 4th grader with good size and skills. Going to be a good one.”
Those words were from Coach Michael Hawkins, nearby Weldon Middle (NC) head coach.
Fast forward to now and he’s spot on. Roberts currently stands around 6’1”, has very long arms, next level athleticism and more tantalizing tools.
Let’s break down his most recent game against Rocky Mount Prep Middle where he went off for 38 points on the road.
Anthony Roberts vs Rocky Mount Prep Middle (Box Score)
Roberts possesses all the tools that bigtime scoring threats have at the high school level. He’s got guard skills but has the strength and length of wings. At the middle school level, you won’t find many (if any) guards around his size that can match his strength, athleticism and IQ for the game.
Against Rocky Mount Prep Middle, he started the game out with back to back dunks after a steal. In the open court he’s a terror for defenses. In addition to his leaping ability, he’s incredibly fast with the ball in his hands while also having the ability to weave around defenders.
He’s much more than just an athlete though. Roberts shot-making ability off the dribble and off the catch are promising. He buried 3 out of 4 three-point attempts in this matchup in various ways. Has the potential to develop into an absolutely deadly pick and roll player. Despite being such a lethal scorer at this stage, he’s still very unselfish and leads his team in assists.
With all that has been said so far, his best attribute as a player right now is his defensive ability. He sits down in a stance, uses his length to pick the pockets of ball-handlers and loves to apply intense pressure the full length of the floor. It’s rare to find players that defend as well as he does at such a young age.
Despite having good shooting mechanics, he managed to only shoot .625% from the free-throw line in his matchup with Rocky Mount Prep. This is common among younger players, so it more than likely will improve over time with experience and a more defined free-throw routine.
His ball-handling with his left hand is improving, but still needs repetition. When he’s forced left, he tends to settle for more jump-shots and stepback shot attempts. Once his left-hand improves to the point where he can attack the basket equally well, it’ll open the door for even larger scoring outputs.
Also, the majority of his missed shot attempts occured near the rim on the right side of the floor. He tends to drive straight down the side of the baseline, giving defenses helpside defenders a chance to meet him at the rim. In the future, that could lead to charge calls and blocked shot attempts against teams with taller bigs.
I’m always one to play it safe when it comes to young players but I believe this is a young prospect that will only get better and better. I have no doubt that he’ll be a scholarship level prospect by the time he graduates high school in 2027. As it stands, he’s one of the best players in North Carolina for the class of 2027. Let’s check back to see how he has progressed in a few years.
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