Charlotte Observer Boys’ Featured Athletes
Jaden Bradley, Cannon School Basketball: Jaden Bradley had great expectations on the basketball court long before he ever played in his first high school basketball game for Cannon School.
The 6-foot-2, 15-year old freshman point guard not only had scholarship offers from Auburn and Wake Forest, but also had interest from a dozen-plus major Division I programs including Kansas and North Carolina. And this was before he played in his first varsity basketball game.
Bradley, who was also selected to the 2022 USA Basketball team roster in October, has been ranked amongst the top 10 freshman (class of 2022) in the nation by multiple publications.
Bradley already has a cool nickname, as his Cannon School coaches and teammates call him “Silk,” because of how smooth he plays. In Friday’s 71-60 win over Rabun Gap (GA), Bradley had 27 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists. Cannon improved to 9-4.
Cannon coach Che’ Roth said his school has had some talented players come through, including former Virginia Tech star Jarrell Eddie and Jairus Hamilton, a two-time Observer player of the year now at Boston College.
But he has not had one as good as young as Bradley.
“‘Silk (Bradley) is mature beyond his years, and he makes other players around him better,” said Cannon School basketball coach Che Roth, in his seventh year as the Cougars’ head coach and 19th year overall. “We’ve had some great talent come to Cannon , but never had a kid this young that was this good, that had this much of an understanding of the game.”
Bradley averages 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assist per game.
“I love playing the game and basketball motivates me to get out of bed every morning,” Bradley said. “…I’m a very competitive person on and off the court, whether I’m playing basketball, in the classroom or even playing a video game.
…I learned to be competitive when I was getting beat (in basketball) by my older brothers (Nathan (Jr.) and Michael Bradley) growing up.”
While Bradley has already proved himself against some of the top teams in the state, he is eager to continue to improve and help his Cannon School team contend for a CISAA conference against the likes of Charlotte Christian and Providence Day.
Cannon School plays in holiday tournaments at Providence Day (Crown Town Classic) and Raleigh Broughton High (John Wall Tournament), before opening CISAA play at Charlotte Country Day, Jan. 8.
“At first I was a little nervous coming in (varsity basketball), because high school (basketball) is a big jump from middle school,” said Bradley, who played at Cannon Middle School. “But I was excited to compete against the best, and I realized I just have to play my game, have fun with my teammates and try to get the win every night.”
While Bradley is off to a great start in high school career, he says he is more motivated than ever to work on his game to continue to improve. It’s already hard to believe he is just a freshman.
Coach Roth knows the best is yet to come.
“Jaden is a great kid from a great family and that’s where it all starts, because he is humble young man with his feet firmly planted on the ground,” Roth said. “…He is still going to getting stronger and more explosive, and so I believe he is just scratching the surface of how good he can be.
…But the main thing is “Silk,” loves to play basketball, love to compete, loves to work on his game in the gym and that is what drives him every day.”
Cameron Stitt, Porter Ridge Basketball: The 6-foot-7 foward had 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks to lead the Pirates to a 107-62 win over Arborbrook Christian, Dec. 4, to help his team to a 5-0 start.
Stitt was the lone returning starter from a Porter Ridge team that went 10-14 a year ago.
The Pirates already have strong wins at Piedmont, at Sun Valley and at Weddington this year.
Stitt is averaging 22 points and eight rebounds, while shooting 51 percent from the field this season.
Zay Martin, Northwestern Basketball: The Northwestern shooting guard has been on fire of late, averaging 29.3 points per game in his last four games with 19 three-pointers in that same span.
Martin had 35 points in an 87-77 win over Spartanburg, Dec. 4.
Three days later, Martin poured in 27 points in a 76-68 victory over South Pointe.
Martin, who has a scholarship offer from Spartanburg Methodist has helped Northwestern to 7-1 start this season.
Christian Pickens, Ardrey Kell Basketball: The 6-foot-5, Ardrey Kell senior forward is averaging 17 points and seven rebounds per game to help the Knights to a 6-0 start.
Pickens had 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists in an 83-66 win over Charlotte Catholic Dec. 4.
Three days later, Pickens missed a double-double by one-rebound with 11 points and nine rebounds in a 71-57 victory over Marvin Ridge.
Pickens is a Division I and II recruit, according to Ardrey Kell coach, Michael Craft, who believes he is “diamond in the rough.”
Jah’Quez Sanders, Queens Grant Basketball: The Queens Grant senior averaged 26.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in wins over Christ the King and Covenant Day.
Sanders, who has interest from Barton College, had his best game of the week with 31 points, nine rebounds and five steals in a 76-59 victory over Christ the King, Dec. 7.
Sanders is averaging 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game for Queens Grant (7-1), which has won seven straight games.
Seth Bennett, Charlotte Christian Basketball: The Charlotte Christian senior guard is averaging 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals per game to help the Knights to an 8-1 start this season.
Bennett had 14 points in just one half of play in a 43-24 win over Ben Lippen Dec. 5.
Two days later, Bennett did a little bit of everything with nine points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals in a 61-58 victory at previously unbeaten, Durham Academy.
Bennett is currently being recruited by Campbell, UNC Greensboro, The Citadel and others, according to Shonn Brown.
Nathan Dugan, Lake Norman Wrestling: The Lake Norman senior finished fourth in the 195-pound weight class in the Ironman tournament at Walsh Jesuit High in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, Dec. 8.
The Ironman tournament one of the top tournaments in the country, according to Wildcats’ wrestling coach, Tom Pavia.
Dugan, a Princeton University commit, went 49-2 last season for Lake Norman, winning the 4A state championship at 182 pounds.
Eric Hudson, Jr., West Mecklenburg Wrestling, Sr.: The West Mecklenburg senior won the 195-pound weight class at the Al Kessie/Mecklenburg County tournament just one week after the Hawks’ football team was eliminated from the 4A state playoffs.
Hudson, Jr., had just two practices to prepare for the Mecklenburg County tournament, which he not only won for the fourth time but also was named the event’s most outstanding wrestler for the second straight season.
Hudson, Jr., is the defending 4A state championship at 195 pounds.
Jack Wilton, Sun Valley Wrestling: The Sun Valley senior went a perfect 4-0 with three pins to win the 182-pound weight class at the Bobby Abernathy Memorial Wrestling Tournament at Piedmont Dec. 8.
The tournament victory was Wilton’s first action of the season as he just finished football season three weeks ago, where he led Sun Valley with 154 tackles, five sacks and two interceptions.
Wilton returned to the mat after not wrestling the last two seasons for Sun Valley.
Evan Hines, East Lincoln Wrestling: The East Lincoln senior is 12-0 with 10 pins so far this season.
Hines, who wrestles in both the 152 and 160-pound weight classes, picked up three more victories last week beating his opponents from Hickory, Providence Day and Statesville in a quad meet Dec. 4.
Hines has also led East Lincoln to a 12-2 team record this season.
Idris Bernard, Mallard Creek Track: The Mallard Creek senior tied for the second-best high jump in the country this indoor season (according to milesplit.com) with a 6-8 to win the event at the Visit Winston-Salem High School Kick-off, Dec. 8, at the JDL Fast Track.
Bernard is the defending 4A state, outdoor state champion in the high jump and boasts a 3.4 grade-point average in the classroom.
Charlotte Observer Girls’ Athletes of the Week
Dazia Lawrence, Mallard Creek Basketball: The Mallard Creek senior point guard poured in a career-high and school-record (for Mallard Creek boys’ and girls’) 42 points in the Mavericks’ 67-48 win at Berry Dec. 7.
Lawrence, a Charlotte 49ers’ signee, had five three-pointers and missed only shots from the field in the Berry victory.
Lawrence is averaging 24 points, five assists and four rebounds per game this season, also recently eclipsing the 1,500-point career point mark at Mallard Creek (4-2 this season).
Nia Daniel, Hickory Ridge Basketball: The Hickory Ridge senior helped the Ragin’ Bulls to a 4-0 start with 26 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and four assists in a 53-43 victory at Central Cabarrus, Dec. 6.
Daniel, a University of North Carolina commit, is averaging 21 points, eight rebounds, five steals and three assists per game this season.
Evan Miller, Ardrey Kell Basketball: For the first two seasons of her Ardrey Kell basketball career, Evan Miller played limited minutes.
But Miller is a having a breakout junior season, averaging 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Miller was even better last week, averaging 23 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals per game in wins over Charlotte Catholic, Marvin Ridge and Carolina Day.
Miller had a career-best and tied a single-game, school record with 30 points in Ardrey Kell’s 81-61 win over Carolina Day in the LBI Classic at Butler, Dec. 8. She added five rebounds, five assists and five steals in the same game.
Haley and Megan Seymour, Bradford Prep Girls Basketball: Bradford Prep’s twin sister duo has led the Bears to a 6-1 start this season, after going 1-20 last year.
Haley Seymour leads Bradford Prep averaging 18.6 points per game, scoring 25 points in their most recent win over Corvian, Dec. 4.
Megan Seymour is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.4 points per contest, adding 16 points in the Corvian victory.
Braylyn Milton, Independence Basketball: The Independence sophomore averaged 20 points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists to help the Patriots (2-2) to a 2-0 record last week.
Milton had her best game of the week with 22 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists in a 55-38 win at Lincoln Charter, Dec. 5.
Milton already has scholarship offers from East Carolina, Presbyterian, and UNC Wilmington with interest coming from at least 10 more, Division I schools, according to Independence girls’ basketball coach, Lauren Galvani.
Milton’s older brother, Raja Milton (13 ppg, 5 apg), is also a standout for the defending 4A state champion, Independence boys’ basketball team.
Aniya Finger, Hopewell Basketball: The Hopewell junior is also off to hot start, averaging 21 points, 10 rebounds and four steals to help the Titans to a 4-0 record this season.
Finger had two more big games last week, with 25 points, 10 rebounds and four steals in a 70-20 win at Concord, Dec. 7.
The next day, Finger poured in 25 more points, had 10 rebound and three steals in a 63-36 victory over Concord First Assembly in the LBI Classic at Butler.
Senali Moss, South Mecklenburg Basketball: The South Mecklenburg freshman and daughter of NFL Hall of Famer wide receiver Randy Moss is making a name for herself on the basketball court.
The younger Moss averaged 13 points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists per game in the first eight game of the season to help the Sabres to a 6-2 start.
Moss had her best game of the season with career highs of 18 points and nine steals in a 63-28 over Hammond School in the LBI Classic at Butler, Dec. 8.
Jirah Sidberry, Rocky River Basketball: The Rocky River senior started her season with a bang with a personal-record, long jump of 19-0.5 at the Visit Winston-Salem High School Kick-off, the No. 1 long jump in the country this indoor season, according to milesplit.com
Sidberry is committed to continue her track and field career at N.C. State.
Salem Haire, North Iredell Swimming: The North Iredell senior has overcome incredible odds just to be swimming after she was hit by a car crossing the street earlier this year, according to Raiders’ swim coach, Melinda Smith.
Last Thursday, Haire won the 200 individual medley (2:38.65) in a tri-meet against East Rowan and West Rowan at the East Rowan YMCA.
Haire’s boyfriend, North Iredell senior, Cole Barkley also won the 200 individual medley (2:42.34) at the same, Dec. 6 meet.
Reagan Youngblood, Butler Swimming: The Butler sophomore broke the school-record in the 200 individual medley (2:19.57), winning the event in a meet with Independence and Myers Park, Dec. 3.
Three days later, Youngblood won the 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke in a quad meet with East Mecklenburg, Hickory Ridge and Porter Ridge. Youngblood also led the 200 and 400 freestyle relay team with teammates, Adelynne Money, Caroline Stowe and Veronika Jordan to victory in the same meet, with regional qualifying times.
** Information published today includes statistics through December 9th.
Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school players with outstanding performances. The goal is to recognize all athletes in all sports, both the most accomplished and the underrated or underappreciated players. If you want to suggest someone to be included in the Athletes of the week column, send email to Jay Edwards at email@example.com. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.