High School Sports

From an unknown to 5-star recruit? Josh Hall’s got a chance.

In December, Josh Hall was a virtual unknown in the busy world of college basketball recruiting. Tuesday, he was ranked No. 25 nationally.

Rivals.com updated Hall’s ranking, naming him a 5-star recruit in the class of 2020.

Hall, a 6-foot-8 wing, is the No. 3 ranked recruit from North Carolina in the Rivals rankings, trailing 6-10 power forward Isaiah Todd of Raleigh Trinity and 6-9 center Day’Ron Sharpe of Winterville South Central. Todd is ranked No. 13 nationally; Sharpe is No. 17.

“I always knew he was this good,” said Antonio Lowe, who coaches Hall at Moravian Prep School in Hickory. “I always knew he had it in him.”

Lowe said he thought few people could see what Hall did as a freshman at Southern Durham High School and then the next two years on the “B” team at Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.

At Oak Hill, Hall played for a program that had produced NBA talents like Carmelo Anthony and Jerry Stackhouse, but those players were on the Warriors’ national travel team. Hall played for the school’s local team.

Moravian Prep School star Josh Hall Langston Wertz Jr. lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

“When I went to Oak Hill, I knew I would be on the B team,” Hall said, “but my junior year, I thought I had a shot. Unfortunately, I didn’t. A guy who I played with through some camps told me I should come to Moravian. I was like, ‘Might as well.’”

Hall was an immediate success at Moravian, which has a post-graduate and high school team. Hall put on 15 pounds of muscle and led Moravian’s high school squad to a near-upset of Oak Hill’s travel team, led by North Carolina recruit Cole Anthony, at a tournament in Charlotte. Oak Hill won 82-74 in overtime.

Hall’s fearless performance against his old school helped his reputation grow. But he also decided to reclassify around the same time. At the urging of some of the coaches recruiting him, Hall decided to change his high school graduation date from June 2019 to June 2020.

Boy, did that change things.

“I felt like I had some little things that I had to improve on,” Hall said, “in order to come to college and play right away. I wasn’t talking to any big-time coaches then, but once I re-classed, it blew up.”

Hall began to pull down a few Power 5 offers shortly after the new year. By late May — when national regional recruiting analyst Justin Byerly of Hoop Scene North Carolina watched him play in Atlanta — Hall had more than 20. With an extra year to develop, it was clear college coaches felt Hall was a priority recruit in 2020.

After seeing him play, Byerly gushed on social media about what he saw: a long wing who is as tall as a power forward but can handle the ball like a guard. And Hall’s specialty, his 3-point shooting, was now just part of his package. Before his development and physical growth, that was the primary portion.

“Josh Hall was a Phenom all weekend,” Byerly wrote. “I don’t remember a kid that went from on a national scale not being mentioned much, to in my opinion, a player worthy of a top-25 ranking on that same scale in less than a year. He does so many positives on the court.”

Today, Hall said he has 32 offers, including ACC schools like Wake Forest and N.C. State, Big 12 schools like Oklahoma State and Kansas, and SEC schools like Tennessee and Florida. He said he probably won’t pick a college until April 2020.

Right now, Hall said he’s just enjoying the journey, as unusual as his has been.

“It’s just a blessing,” he said. “I know a lot of players who have aspirations of playing (Division I) who don’t get these chances. So I never got down on myself when it was going differently. I stuck to the plan. Now I’m just looking for the best fit, the best place where I can develop into a better student-athlete.”

Only difference is this: He has a lot more choices now.