The final day of the Phenom Hoop Challenge kicked off bright and early with one of the most hyped matchups of the event. The Karolina Diamonds and Showtime Ballers squared off in a game that had no shortage of cameras, as well as no shortage of excitement. Corey Sanders hit a lay-up at the buzzer to give Showtime the win, en route to a championship game run.
An outstanding weekend of hoops ended with the following championship games:
15U: CP3 All-Stars
16U: CP3 All-Stars
17U: West Virginia Wildcats
Here are a few of the players who stood out:
Lavar Batts, 6’1, PG, CP3 All-Stars 15U, 2017- Right there in the conversation for best freshman in the state with JJ Smith, Batts showed that he could carry over his dominance at the highest level of AAU. Previously playing with the local Carrabus Stars, He made the move over to the EYBL squad and fit in immediately. The freshman controlled the tempo of the game, got in the lane at will, and was simply special converting with either hand.
Karl Gamble, 6’9, PF, Upward Stars, 2015- An incredibly skilled big man, Gamble was one of the bigger surprises at PHC. He was deadly attacking from the elbows, used his length to bother opponents, and showed great coordination on the blocks. With interest from many SoCon teams, it’s a near certainty that mid-major and high-major programs will be showing interest after the live period.
Quate McKinzie, 6’6, PF, CP3 All-Stars 16U- A physical specimen, McKinzie did the bulk of his damage in the paint, yet also showed that he had some skill on the perimeter. He was nearly impossible to stop around the rim, attacked the basket strong from the wing, and even busted out a sly euro-step in transition. This super long forward could go a number of ways, but could easily convert into a power wing by the time it is all said and done.
Michael Buckland, 6’5, SG, CP3 All-Stars 16U- A player who we’ve been watching since he was playing varsity in the 8th grade, Buckland has made some serious strides in his game. The sister of UNC redshirt freshman Megan Buckland redshirt freshman Megan Buckland showed that he’s not the only serious baller in his family. He showed off a silky smooth jumper, finished through contact at the rim, and showed off some really nice court vision for a wing. With Theo Pinson graduating, there will be plenty of opportunity for Buckland to truly shine next year for Wesleyan alongside Harry Giles.
Jordan Whitfield, 6’0, PG, Team United 15U- With his entire squad playing up at the 16U level, Whitfield showed that he had no problem playing with some of the region’s elite players a year up. He showed off surprising athleticism, a nice floater, and was able to keep Team United in the game. Another player who has been playing varsity hoops since his 8th grade year, Whitfield appears to be following his brother’s footsteps to the division one level.