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New NCAA ‘live period’ rule suits Cannon School 7-foot sophomore just fine

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Class of 2020 high school basketball and football players to watch.
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Class of 2020 high school basketball and football players to watch.

Playing AAU basketball can be tough for guys like Concord Cannon School’s Christian Reeves.

Reeves, 15, is a 7-foot, 215-pound center trying to find his game. That doesn’t always translate well in fast-paced showcase games where shots often go up quickly.

“Showcase basketball is a guard’s world,” Cannon coach Che’ Roth said Friday night after watching Reeves have a monster summer league game against Raleigh Ravenscroft. “This environment suits guys like him and other bigs much more.”

Cannon School is among 10 Charlotte-area teams playing in the first N.C. Independent Schools Summer Showcase. A new NCAA rule is allowing Division I college coaches to attend high school events in June this year.

In the past, coaches only got to evaluate prospects on shoe company-dominated circuits in April and July “live periods” before players went back to their school teams in the fall.

In many of those events, players are on loaded all-star teams, teams not affiliated with their high schools, and players like Reeves can sometimes get lost.

“This is better,” Reeves said, “because I get to show college coaches what I can do and I get to be on the court more.”

In a 76-49 win over Ravenscroft, Reeves showed a lot of promise. He made 8-of-15 shots and scored 19 points, to go with 14 rebounds and two blocks. That performance dwarfed what he does in most games for his travel-team, the Chris Paul/Nike-backed CP3.

Plenty of Division I coaches showed up for the event Friday, including Tony Bennett of national champion Virginia and Wake Forest’s Danny Manning.

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The University of Virginia men’s basketball Tony Bennett catches up with Greensboro Day head coach Freddy Johnson. Jonathan Aguallo Special to the Observer

In the past three years, North Carolina private schools have produced more than 80 players who have signed Division I scholarships.

In the latest ESPN national rankings for the rising sophomores, juniors and seniors, there were seven North Carolina players ranked. Five play for a NCISAA school. And Thursday night, two former NCISAA players were drafted into the NBA: Grant Williams (Providence Day/Boston Celtics) and Coby White (Greenfield School/Chicago Bulls).

So the coaches came out to see the next wave of talent, and Reeves certainly looked like he was ready to be in it.

“Every possession,” Roth said, “he seems to get a little more confident. We’ve seen a lot of growth within three weeks (of practice). It seems like he’s having fun. He’s hard-working and obviously, he has something you can’t teach — he’s 7-foot tall. But he has this knack of picking up things really quick.

“He’s got a limitless ceiling being that tall — and he’s getting better every day.”

Observations

The best backcourt in the state? Early projections would be for Greensboro Day. Rising senior Carson McCorkle has committed to Virginia (Bennett was in the stands watching him Friday) and junior Cam Hayes is a top 25 national recruit. They looked the part in the day’s best game, a close win over Concord First Assembly. The pair is smooth, composed and dominant.

Fans missed out on a potential major college point guard matchup when Northside Christian played Greenfield School. Greenfield senior Dji Bailey has committed to Wake Forest. Northside sophomore Jalen Hood-Schifino is a top 25 national recruit, but he sat out the game with knee tendinitis.

Can’t believe the improvement of Concord First Assembly 6-8 senior Cheick Traore. He has vastly improved over the past two years. He’s added a variety of post moves, a much softer shooting touch and is now a reliable free throw shooter. He’s always been uber-athletic and able to run the floor well. He was impressive in the Greensboro Day showdown, which First Assembly lost by two in a matchup of legit state state title contenders.

Two players I had not seen much of in the past that were impressive were Concord First Assembly’s Ambaka Le Gregam, a 6-4 senior, and Cannon School 6-4 junior Jarvis Moss. Moss had 30 points against Ravenscroft and Le Gregam was all-over-the-court impressive against Greensboro Day.

In all, more than 50 coaches came to Greensboro Day Friday. Coaches included head coaches from Liberty, Mercer, Radford and Western Carolina. Assistants from Central Florida, Furman, Gardner-Webb, N.C. A&T, and Southern Methodist, among others.

I really like the idea of giving kids a chance to be recruited on their high school teams during June. High school tends to be more structured than summer ball, and some kids who don’t play much, or play a different role with their travel team, can show college coaches their games. I just wish the July period could be adjusted. The planned regional camps at college campuses will exclude too many recruits. Let’s have two regular live periods in July and these two weeks in June, please.

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