Josh Tec's Carolina Jam Observations from Saturday
RALEIGH—I’m still over the moon for North Carolina. I seldom feel this energized after a long Saturday, but I’ve got plenty of juice still. Maybe it’s a caffeine overdose from multiple trips to Black and White throughout the day. Regardless, I feel great.
I know that a day full of great basketball certainly didn’t hurt. Here are some observations from a loaded Saturday slate.
All Carolina, All Potential
All Carolina 16U’s Josh Randolph immediately stood out as a prospect of note. He has good size, good length, and plenty of versatility. The 6-foot-5 wing’s impact on the game is stark. When he’s on the floor, he does everything.
He’s an exceptional playmaker that can create off the bounce or play around the basket. Randolph’s length can be bothersome for opponents, and he can reasonably, comfortably guard multiple positions. His sweet mid-range jumper is tough to defend, and he’s automatic when he gets to the rim.
He impressed early on and was a name that we kept coming back to throughout the day.
This Grassroots NC program has been a highlight of the weekend for me so far. On Friday, their 16U team made their mark on me, and on Saturday, it was their 17U team that had me raving to Carolina expert, Justin Byerly.
This team surrounds a stable of solid guards around a talented, physical forward in Marcus Portis.
Guard Trevor Barrett especially stood out. The 6-foot-1 PG is as steady as they come. He’s a silent killer that’s difficult to stay in front of. Without being overwhelmingly fast, Barrett can navigate through a defense like a knife going through butter. He seldom turns the ball over, he gets to the free-throw line with regularity, and he’s always in control. He’s the mold that coaches want point guards to be made from.
Team Trezz’s Towers
It’s difficult to not stop and watch Team Trezz with the size and length they trot out on the front line. Torey Alston and Trey Byrd are long and lanky wing/forward hybrids who cause havoc on defense with their length and obliterate rims on the other end with their high-flying athleticism. Both look the mold of basketball players who could also double as P5 wide receivers.
Then, add into the mix Ty Outlaw who’s more of a bruising forward. He embodies physicality, rebounding and rim protection. He comes from a lineage of hoppers, so he knows what he’s doing out there.
While not part of the gamut of size, guard Eli Preddy may be one of the best overall guards in the building. With his combination of skill and athleticism, I couldn’t help but be wowed by what he brought to the table.
Alright, Another Round of Grassroots
It just happened to work out that I got to add the Grassroots NC 15U team to my schedule for the day, and, like the other two teams in the program that I’ve seen this weekend, I walked away with plenty to rave about.
Brady Proctor shot the ball well from deep and used his 3-point threat to help space the floor and create more opportunities inside the arc for himself and his teammates. He led the team with 20.
Jalen Sheppard is a versatile guard with size. He’s great when it comes to attacking defenses off the bounce from the perimeter. He can get to the bucket at will and he’s a crafty, creative finisher when he gets there. He finished with 17.
Josh Bowen is an exceptional, dynamic guard who already had huge numbers this weekend. He played relatively limited minutes in the game of theirs that I saw, but he still put up 14.
A Supreme Effort
Virginia Supreme Elite pulled off a thrilling, overtime come-from-behind win on late Saturday afternoon. The effort was led largely by 6-foot-3 Gabe Campbell's 22-point game. Campbell excelled when he was in attack mode. More often than not, if Campbell put the ball on the floor and drove to the basket, good things happened for VSE. With his strong frame, Campbell bullied his way to easy points and served as a catalyst for his squad when they needed a spark on offense.
I absolutely love watching the Puerto Rican teams. My Hispanic roots could influence some bias, but these teams always play hard and provide good games. Effort is never going to be called into question when watching a team like PR Unlimited.
I also love their fans. They bring a soccer atmosphere to AAU basketball, and it’s incredible. It’s not often that you see basketball fans in America banging on drums at 9:30 a.m., but that’s what we were privy to on Saturday.