Saturday night the ridiculous depth of North Carolina HS hoops was a treat for those in attendance at Southeast Guilford HS for the 2nd annual Josh Level classic. Even with Bam Adebayo and Jalek Felton overseas competing for USA basketball, there were likely about 10 players in action that could wind up playing in the ACC over the next three years. Of course two of those players will be NBA lottery picks within that three year period too - Harry Giles and Dennis Smith.
Since the event was much like the NBA all-star game with both teams scoring in the 150s (after a 4 minute OT), we can't treat it like an actual game for evaluation purposes. However, the raw talent was really easy to spot. From a Wake Forest perspective, there were six players on the floor with current offers from Danny Manning. Brandon Childress, a commit since last October, showed off great ball-handling, his deep range and of course perfect lobs to his teammates throughout the evening. Playing with Giles, Jalen Johnson, and Kwe Parker at Wesleyan has made the lob second nature to him. Chill was fouled at the end of regulation on a desperation three and made 2 of 3 free throws.....left-handed.
The other players with Wake offers in attendance were Giles, Dennis Smith, Jalen Johnson, Kwe Parker, and Sacha Killeya-Jones. Smith and Johnson were the standouts of the night to me. While everyone knows Dennis has ridiculous athleticism and quickness, it is his finishing ability that is Kyrie Irving-like in my opinion. He makes difficult buckets around the rim with both hands look easy. Johnson, who has increased his stock playing with Team Wall so far this AAU season, is a slim 6'7" lefty who almost hit his head on the rim multiple times throughout the evening. The recipient of the majority of the Childress lobs, Johnson also has a nice three-point stroke. This summer is a huge one for Jalen and it will be interesting to track the offers that continue to roll in as well as the attention the Wake staff pays to him.
I probably take Harry Giles' talent for granted at this point. He showed off his complete skillset throughout the night and probably got the crowd to its loudest of the night when he went around his back in traffic and stuffed it with one hand. Kwe Parker is still in the early stages of getting back into his previous form after missing several months with a broken foot. He did show that he has regained most of his bounce in warm-ups, but seemed a little more tentative during actual play.
Finally, the biggest surprise to me was 2017 wing JJ Smith from Fayetteville. Smith stole the show several times with moves you'll be sure to see on the mixtapes that will drop in the next couple weeks. This was my first time seeing the 4* in action and the athleticism and skill on display for this rising junior were a lot of fun to watch. I have no doubt that he'll rack up several ACC offers in the next year.
Thanks to the Karolina Diamonds and Nike for helping make the Josh Level Classic a success for the second straight year. Also, be sure to catch the BallisLife mixtape from the event when it drops - it will be a lengthy video.
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