I get a lot of questions each week. Here I’ll try to answer the more common ones I get. These are all actual questions.
Q. I saw where a local freshman football player got invited to an All-American camp. What is that, and which freshman players had the best season in football and basketball?
Earlier this year, I wrote a story about the top freshman football players in the area. You can start there, by clicking here. But to answer your question:
Providence Day freshman receiver Porter Rooks was invited to play in the FBU (Football University) freshman All-American game in San Antonio in January. It brings together some of the nation’s top 9th graders for skill development and a feature game. Rooks was certainly one of the area’s top freshmen this season. And I’ve got two more to keep an eye on.
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Charlotte Country Day’s Tim Newman ran for 804 yards and nine touchdowns and he helped lead the Bucs to their first playoff appearance in four years. Newman is the son of a former NFL player of the same name, and with three years to play, it’ll be interesting to see how he develops. Newman won a rare honor a freshman, to be named his school’s offensive MVP, and Bucs fans may want to keep an eye on their record books. With three years to play, and a young team building around him, Newman could make a run at the school rushing record of 5,316 yards set by Alvin Pearman. That is the Mecklenburg County private school and N.C. private school record as well.
The third freshman I’d name is Hunter Huss QB Zoe Wallace. He has helped lead his team to its first conference championship since 1996. As a freshman. Huss (8-3) has won eight straight games after an 0-3 start. The Huskies host Monroe’s Parkwood High in a N.C. 2AA playoff game Friday.
In basketball? It’s so early to tell, but mark these three names down: Jaden Springer, Rocky River; Tristan Maxwell, North Mecklenburg; and Christian Bailey, Statesville Christian.
Q. What happened to Rechon Black, the UNC recruit from Concord High. He’s not on their roster.
Black, a 6-7 point guard, decided to his talents to(wards) South Beach.
He made the decision last July to transfer to national power Montverde Academy, just outside Orlando, Fla. Black had been the consensus No. 1 recruit in the state in the class of 2018. I was speaking to a Power 5 conference assistant coach this week who told me that it took Black a little while to get adjusted to playing with such a talented group, but that now, he might be Montverde’s best player. And that’s saying something considering that team is stacked with players ranked in the top 100 in several classes.
Currently, ESPN ranks Black No. 32 in its rankings of top 60 juniors in the country. Only one N.C. player ranks higher. Wilson Greenfield 6-4 guard Coby White is No. 28. Both Black and White have committed to Roy Williams and North Carolina.
Q. Settle a barber shop argument for me. Which N.C. (basketball) recruiting class is better, 2018 or 2019, and are they the best classes ever?
Both are very deep classes. I think it’s too early to tell how they stack up historically. Compared to each other, though, it looks like 2018 will have a slight edge.
Using scout.com as an example, N.C. has the No. 8, 40, 57, 68, 69 recruits among the top 75 for 2018. In 2019, there’s No. 21, 31 in the top 50. The scout rankings for 2019 don’t go past that. I think when it’s all said and done both classes will end up very strong, but 2018 will be the better of the two. End of the day, though, both classes affirm that the Hoop State is alive and kicking.
Now, are 2018 and ‘19 among the best classes ever? That’s really hard to say. The class of 2016 could produce three lottery picks -- Dennis Smith, Bam Adebayo and Harry Giles -- and don’t sleep on the class of 2010, which had C.J. Leslie at No. 11 by scout, Reggie Bullock at 16, Ian Miller of United Faith Christian at 21, plus recruits at No. 53, No. 60, No. 65 (West Charlotte’s JT Terrell), No. 81 (Cannon’s Jarrell Eddie) and No. 83. And that’s just six years ago.
Q. How is it that Mallard Creek is playing at Hough this week in the football playoffs? Makes no sense to me.
The N.C. High School Athletic Association is experimenting with a new playoff seeding system. It’s on a one-year trial. There were some expected quirks.
“When all is said and done,” NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker told me Wednesday, “we knew Mallard Creek would be one of those (schools) where people would be like, ‘How did this happen.’”
Mallard Creek (8-2) beat Hough (7-4) 42-21 back in October. The Mavericks finished with a better record and a better conference record than Hough. But both teams received “at-large” bids to the state playoffs because this year, Tucker said, because only conference champions received automatic bids.
Mallard Creek was placed in the midwest region and ended up a five seed based on record. Hough went to the west region and ended up a four. The No. 1 seed in the one region plays the No. 8 in the other; and 2 played 7 and 3 plays 6 and 4 plays 5. That meant Mallard Creek had to play at Hough.
“To be honest,” Tucker said, “we’ve had very little complaining from our schools (about the new seeding system). The Hough and Mallard Creek scenario is an interesting one and we’ve had several of those and if there is some tweaking to the system, one would be to avoid that kind of scenario.”
Q. Has there been any discussion of creating a 5A class or separating the largest 4A teams in a Big 16 champion like in South Carolina?
Back in the 2011-12 school year, the state association used a study by an outside agency to try to determine if adding a class or two classes had any merit. The report, Tucker said, looked at N.C. high schools placed within a three-class system, a five-class system and six-class system. When the report came back, the NCHSAA Board of Directors determined that by adding classes, or even eliminating one, it would increase travel too much and voted to stay in the current four-class format.
“With 6A, that would be the Houghs, the South Mecks, those schools,” Tucker said. “Well look at travel. You have to go from Charlotte to Raleigh to find (like-sized schools). When they get into state playoffs, who do they play? Because of the length of our state, it would make for some unusual travel. Charlotte would be in a conference with schools in Raleigh. That’s going to be tough.”
I asked Tucker if the association had considered creating a Big 16 championship in a Super 4A or 5A class for major sport playoffs, like is done with S.C football. It would create long travel runs, like Charlotte to Raleigh, but not too long ago, schools like West Charlotte regularly played playoff games in Durham and vice versa.
“I won’t say it’s something we haven’t thought about,” Tucker said. “We’ve talked about it, but it’s not something our coaches have put forward. Somehow, that doesn’t seem to be attractive to them.”
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