Dave Telep’s Carolina Challenge has consistently been the top event that the state of North Carolina has to offer. The ESPN analyst gives back to the state by having an event free of charge to both the players and fans on the gorgeous campus of Ravenscroft high school in Raleigh. National scouts from all over the country descend to Raleigh for the one day event, which features the top underclassmen in the state. With the loaded classes of 2014 and 2016 that NC offers, there was no shortage of talent and Mr. Telep did an amazing job of bringing the top players from the state under one roof for an amazing day of basketball.
Here’s a look at some of the top players that caught our eye:
Harry Giles, 6’9, PF, Wesleyan Christian Academy, 2016-Perhaps the top freshman in the country, Giles showed off the complete game that got him in the conversation for top player in the class of 2016. He did everything that you could ask for out of a power forward on the offensive end. Harry handled the ball in the open floor, knocked down open jumpers from the perimeter, and showed improving moves with his back to the basket. However, what impressed us most was his ability to pass the ball. Giles made great decisions in transition and with his back to the basket, showing off a basketball IQ that you usually don’t see out of a young big man. Once you add in the fact that this manchild is only 14 years old, it’s easy to see why you can make a strong case for him as the #1 player in 2016.
Theo Pinson, 6’6, SF, Wesleyan Christian Academy, 2014- Reverting back to his days at Oak Ridge Military Academy, Pinson ran the show for the majority of the time at the Carolina Challenge. He completely controlled the game, showed amazing passing ability for a wing, and drilled several step-back jumpers. Theo’s ability to see over the defense and unselfishness leaves one to imagine his potential as a point forward at the next level, where he will have his choice of just about any school in the country.
Caleb Martin, 6’6, SF, Davie County HS, 2014- Smooth doesn’t even begin to describe Martin’s game. This big wing makes the game seem so easy that it’s not even funny. Caleb combines a silky jumper with an explosive first step to make him a nightmare to defend on the perimeter. The NC State pledge finished with a variety of takes in the lane and showed off outstanding passing ability for a guy playing off of the ball. We’d like to see him a little more aggressive and take over the game at times though, because the talent is certainly there for him to do so.
Shelton Mitchell, 6’3, PG, Cuthbertson HS, 2014- Shelton wasn’t the fastest point guard at the Carolina Challenge by any stretch, but he got in the lane more than any other lead guard. The Wake Forest recruit used his incredibly shifty style of play and chance of pace to get past everyone, dropping dimes in the lane for his big men to finish. It wasn’t an incredibly big scoring effort for Shelton, but his heady play showed everyone why he’s the top point guard in North Carolina.
Kwe Parker, 6’2, SG, Trinity Christian, 2016- This human highlight film has been playing varsity basketball since his middle school days and even though he’s just a freshman, has the scoring instincts of a college guard. Parker picks his spots incredibly well, mixing a blinding first step with the ability to pull-up at the drop of a dime. Kwe was an incredibly creative finisher in transition, finishing with both hands when he wasn’t hurting the rims with his explosive dunks. Toss in the fact that he’s a lockdown defender and you see why he is one of the better freshman in the state of North Carolina.
Markell Lodge, 6’6, PF, Christian Faith Center Academy, 2014-There wasn’t a player who played harder at Ravenscroft than Markell Lodge. He had a motor that simply didn’t stop on either end of the floor, making him both a joy to watch and one of the Challenge’s more productive players. Lodge was an animal on the glass, finished everything in the paint with a dunk, and was a huge presence on the defensive end. Holding offers from Austin Peay, Winthrop, and George Mason, expect Markell to blow up this spring on the AAU circuit with the CP3 All-Stars.
Torin Dorn, 6’4, SG, Vance HS, 2014- While Lodge won the ‘Mr Hustle’ award, Torin Dorn wasn’t far behind. The lanky wing played every second like it was his last and matched his effort with an intriguing skill set. He showed off a great pull-up, finished in transition, and defended all three perimeter positions. Running with CP3 this summer, Dorn should receive a lot more love from colleges looking for a fearless wing player.