Durham, North Carolina is undoubtedly a basketball city. With no professional sports teams, Duke winning the ‘chip this past season and North Carolina Central atop the MEAC, the Bull City has a deep love for local hoops. Back in the day, Hillside high school held it down on Fayetteville Street by pumping out John Lucas, Rodney Rogers, and former Kentucky forward Bobby Perry. However, from the late-90’s on, it was a tiny Christian school just down the road pumping out NBA talent: Mount Zion Christian Academy.
It was 1996 when Tracy McGrady arrived on the campus and took the nation by storm. He postered Lamar Odom earlier in the summer and made the pilgrimage from Auburndale, Florida to Durham. In the process, he turned Mount Zion into a national power. Pastor Donald Fozard has seen league bound guys Amare Stoudemire, Marquis Daniels, Brandon Rush, Jarrett Jack, Cleanthony Early, Corey Hightower, and Steven Hunter pass through. While there aren’t any NBA players on the immediate horizon, they are still pumping out D-1 talent, as we saw at the Warriors Roundball Classic.
Inviting many of the Bull City’s top private schools, the Warriors Roundball Classic had no shortage of seniors who were yet to make their college decision or still weighing their options with the schools vying for their services. The two day event was held at Mount Zion’s gym that is a piece of basketball history and while T-Mac played a number of games in this building, many of Mount Zion’s home games during the 96-97 campaign had to be moved to Durham School of the Arts in order to accommodate the massive crowds. All in all, the event provided a number of new names and a lot of stories about the legends who walked through the halls of Mount Zion Christian Academy.
Here are a few of the standouts from the 2015 Warriors Roundball Classic:
Larry McLeod, 6-5, SF, Bull City Prep, 2016
A simply ridiculous athlete, Larry McLeod showed scouts and college coaches that he could hold his own with some of the nation’s finest in the Adidas Gauntlet, and has carried that over at Bull City Prep. With a motor that never stops, McLeod is a best on the offensive glass, punishes the rim in transition, and provides the type of energy that every team needs. While his perimeter game is still evolving offensively, Larry’s ability to lock down three positions on D has made him a hot commodity for the late signing period
Keandre Cook, 6-5, SF, Mount Zion Christian Academy, 2016
Making the trip down I-95 from Baltimore, KeAndre Cook proved that he could hold his own with some of North Carolina’s best. The lanky swingman created his own shot at will, shot it well from beyond the arc, and has some big time finishes at the rack. Cook got a little wild at times on the hardwood, but there was no denying the immense amount of talent that he owned.
Kardon Edwards, 6-1, PG, Mount Zion Christian Academy, 2016
Making his way to Durham from north of the border, Kardon Edwards wasn’t quite as flashy as Cook, but still managed to produce at a similar rate. The scoring point guard played the game at his own speed, had range well beyond the three point line, and was a threat to put points on the board anytime that he had the rock in his hands. While his recruitment is wide open right now, he will have no problem inding a home at the D-1 level.
Justin Jones, 6-1, PG, Bull City Prep, 2016
Running with the post grad team, Justin Jones showed the type of talent that will land him on a D-1 roster. He used his athleticism to get to the rack, shot the lights out from deep, and was productive at either guard slot. Given his college ready body, his transition to the next level should be pretty smooth.
Devante Barker, 6-3, SG, Faith Assembly, 2016
Another bouncy athlete, Devante Barker was the top scorer for a solid Faith Assembly squad. He was a big time finisher in transition, hit open three pointers, and had some filthy dimes for easy buckets. Toss in the fact that he has the potential to be a lockdown defender at either guard spot and you see why he is one of the bigger sleepers in the area.