Cam Hamilton and Marcus Neal are already thinking about the 2016-2017 high school basketball season, even though it won’t start for another nine months.
The duo are also thinking ahead to playing after high school, the main reason they were among nearly 70 players at Providence Day on Saturday for the NCPreps.com Elite Guard Showcase.
“We’re trying to get our names out there, so we can get recruited,” Neal said.
Hamilton and Neal – Vance High’s starting guards the past two seasons – were among two dozen players from Mecklenburg County and more than three dozen from Observer-area schools taking part in the Elite Guard Showcase.
“It’s all guards – you don’t have to worry about the big men,” said Hamilton, who led the Cougars in scoring (20.9 per game), assists (4.8) and steals (4.6) last season.
“We’re all fighting for the same thing. It’s going to be competitive. It’s going to be fun.”
The concept of the Elite Guard Showcase came from Team Charlotte AAU coach Chris Hemphill and NCPreps.com publisher Deana King, who began talking about starting the camp last year.
“We’ve never had something like this,” said Hemphill, the camp’s director. “North Carolina breeds guards. Guys like Chris Paul, Jeff McInnis, Phil Ford, John Wall – you can go down the list of Hall of Fame guards that have come from North Carolina.
“We put out the best guards in this state, and we’ve got some very good ones coming up from the Class of 2017, 2018 and 2019.”
Among the top prospects attending Saturday’s Showcase were Providence Day sophomore Devon Dotson, NCPreps.com’s No. 1 player overall in the Class of 2018 rankings; Winston-Salem Prep freshman Chaz Gwyn, No. 2 in the Class of 2019 rankings; and East Lincoln junior Sage Surratt, No. 4 in the Class of 2017 rankings.
“I just wanted to play against some good competition,” said Surratt, who led the Mustangs to the NCHSAA 2A state finals this past season. “Everybody’s out here’s a competitor. I just wanted to play against some of the best guards in the state.”
At the end of the scrimmage games, 20 players were named to play in the Elite Guard Showcase’s All-Star Game, as determined by a vote of the camp’s coaches. The Green team won 76-59.
Of those, 12 were from Observer-area schools, led by three players from Northside Christian – Chris Martin, Nate Hinton and Marten Maide.
Also playing in the All-Star Game were Surratt, Forest Hills’ Nas Tyson, Charlotte Catholic’s Ryan Pollack, Lincoln Charter’s Kody Shubert, Garinger’s Rayshawn Neal, Butler’s D.J. Little, Myers Park’s Isaac Suffren, Berry Academy’s Jamarius Burton, and West Charlotte’s Jalen Knight.
Hinton was named the most valuable player of the Elite Guard Showcase, as decided in a vote of the camp’s coaches.
Other award winners were Surratt (top scorer), Shubert (top passer), High Point Wesleyan Christian’s Aaron Wiggins (top defender), and North Surry’s Mason Hawks (top shooter).
▪ McInnis, a Charlotte native who played at North Carolina and in the NBA (including a year with the then-Charlotte Bobcats) and Europe before retiring in 2008, was the guest speaker at Saturday’s Elite Guard Showcase.
▪ The tallest player at the Showcase was Wiggins, at 6-foot-6. The smallest? Concord sophomore Alon Parker at 5-7, followed closely by Forest Hills sophomore Josh Sturdivant (5-8).
▪ Charlotte Catholic’s Mike King, whose Cougars won the NCHSAA 4A state title two weeks ago; Northside Christian’s Byron Dinkins, whose team won three straight NCISAA 2A state titles between 2012-2014; and Vance’s Brian Frasier were among the coaches serving as instructors at Saturday’s camp.