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North Carolina’s Early Signing Period Notebook from @JustinByerly

13, Nov 2021

North Carolina’s Early Signing Period Notebook from @JustinByerly

This is one of the busiest weeks of the year for guys like me. And we love it. The National Signing Period is in full swing and we have been putting out a lot of content from conference roundups, best available and more. Now we take a look at the state of North Carolina as a whole and what the state is sending out to the college basketball world. HoopSeen Georgia’s Josh Tec, one of the best in the business when he isn’t watching basketball horror movies, put out his version of this article for Georgia yesterday and we are following in his footsteps today. 

BEST SIGNEE: I think this one belongs to Virginia Tech signee Patrick Wessler had a hell of a performance last night for Combine Academy. He went for 31 points and 19 rebounds in a win during The Carmel Christian Tip-Off down in Charlotte. The big man has, in a word, improved every time we have seen him. He can step out and knock down shots from the perimeter but does most of his damage in the paint.

Patrick Wessler

Charlotte , NC

School Team
National Pos. Rank
State Pos. Rank

He can score over either shoulder, he can rebound (really well) and can block/alter shots. Mike Young and his staff up in Blacksburg have a guy that will continue to get better and Wessler should be able to make an impact there when he steps on the floor. 

GOOD FIT: Furman’s Bob Richey has turned the Furman University hoops program into a mid-major power. The Paladins knocked off ACC school Louisville last night by 8-points. This is not really that big of a surprise to me. Richey recruits blue-collar guys that fit their system, play hard and smart. Davis Molnar fits that mold and it will translate to more wins for Furman when he gets on campus. He is the son of a high school coach. Those guys know how to play the game. He has size at 6-foot-7, he can play multiple positions and he has a motor. I don’t see things changing anytime soon at Furman with the job that the staff does in recruiting bring your lunch-pail to work guys. Bob Richey is probably ready for a jump-up in levels at this stage in his coaching career and he has proven he can win.

BEST AVAILABLE: Easy choice for me here. AJ Smith. We have been a big fan of Smith for a long time. A few years ago, with Team Charlotte, Head Coach Jeff McInnis had Smith play up with his 17-under group because he was missing some of his guys, most notably Chicago Bulls point guard Devon Dotson. Smith played superb. He made plays and scored at will on one of the biggest stages in Grassroots basketball, The Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. At Combine Academy, also coached by McInnis, Smith for the last year took a backseat to scoring duties with Robert Dillingham being the go-to-guy. Now with Dillingham transferring to Donda Academy, Smith’s role has gone back to scoring. He has the size and the skillset to be a mid-major and possibly a high-major recruit at the combo guard spot. 

MOST INTERESTING: Providence has always recruited North Carolina and South Carolina really well. Assistant Coach Jeff Battle has ties to the state when he was an assistant coach at Wake Forest back in the early 2000’s. For this recruiting cycle, The Friars came to town and took two from Winston-Salem Christian. Big man Christ Essandoko and point guard Quante Berry. Not often two guys from the same high school land at a school with the pedigree of a Providence but it happened this year. 

THINGS TO WATCH: South Carolina lost to Princeton last night in The Asheville Championship and now falls to 1-1 overall. This is a big loss for Frank Martin and his staff. I like Frank Martin, I like his energy and his approach to the game but at the end of the day, in the SEC you have to win and win a lot to make it. I don’t think Martin will be there next season and I don’t think forward Daniel Hankins-Sanford will ever suit up for The Gamecocks. I think if the spot is still available at East Tennessee State, he could wind up there or maybe another high-major program jumps on board for this guy that brings tons of energy and will to the floor. 



Justin Byerly
State Editor

Justin Byerly has spent the past 15 years covering North Carolina prep and grassroots basketball. He has previously worked with The Recruit Scoop and In addition to that he has contributed to The USA Today, Charlotte Observer, The Asheville Citizen-Times and The Sun News. He has held The Justin Byerly Upstate/WNC Showcase the past two years and has helped student-athletes from North Carolina and South Carolina receive college scholarships. He owns The Byerly Report scouting service that has over 100 college subscriptions. Justin resides in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife Danielle and four children.