Only The Elite Survive
Young’ns show out at ScoutsFocus Elite 80
The Elite 80 has been a staple in North Carolina basketball for four years now, especially among YouTube fanatics. The event has pumped out over five million views from guys like eighth grader Andrew Wiggins, Ryan Harrow, Quincy Miller, Ike Nwamu and Kevin Ware. McDonald’s All-Americans such as CJ Leslie, Reggie Bullock, and PJ Hairston have all made appearances at the Elite 80 and while this fall’s event didn’t have quite the marquee names, there were a number of guys who came in and left with a name for themselves.
This year’s event was no different. There were your big names, your sleepers, your small town kids, and even one middle schooler who stole the show. Here are a look at some of the guys who did their thing at the ScoutsFocus Elite 80:
Gary Clark, 6-7, PF, Clayton HS (NC), 2014
In terms of performance, there wasn’t a better player in Greensboro than Gary Clark. The 6-7 sophomore who I got word of through reading the newspaper a year ago showed a new and improved game that now extends out beyond the three point line. He had a number of coast to coast takes, usually finished off with an explosive dunk. Playing next to 6-9 Tyler Herron for King of The Court on the AAU circuit will only allow Gary to continue to improve upon his outside game, which is looking quite promising at this point.
Aaron Rountree, 6-9, SF, The Greenfield School (NC), 2012
Making the trek from Eastern North Carolina, the Wake Forest recruit brought his “A” game despite the lengthy drive. A true small forward at 6-9, Rountree is a very unique cat who wowed onlookers at times with his pinpoint passing and surprising handle. The senior still needs to get stronger before he hits the deck in the ACC, but is the prototypical type of big wing that ex-Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik loves.
Damon Harge, 5-5, PG, Christian Faith Center Academy (NC), 2018
While it may be a bit premature and mildly odd to write about a sixth grader, you will understand how special Damon Harge is after watching this video. His family packed up and moved over 3000 miles from the Bay Area to just outside of Raleigh so that the middle schooler could play varsity basketball as a sixth grader. Harge, who was coached at the showcase by his HS coach Kendrick Williams, showed an absurd basketball IQ and may have had more poise than any point guard in Greensboro. At only 5-5, he struggles scoring in the paint against players over a half a decade older than him, but his ridiculous skill set and determination should keep him amongst the top players in his class for a long time.
Montay Brandon, 6-6, PG/SG/SF, Wesleyan Christian (NC), 2012
The versatile swingman went at it with his future ACC foe Aaron Rountree in a pair of games, with each grabbing a W. Like Rountree, the future Florida State Seminole is the prototype of the athletic swingman that Leonard Hamilton desires. Brandon was forced to play a little out of position at the Elite 80 and didn’t have the rock in his hands as much as he would have liked, but left no doubt why he’s so highly touted with a pair of nasty dunks and inside-out moves.
Nic Wells, 6-6, PF, St. Vincent St. Mary (OH), 2013
The epitome of a throwback forward, Wells was spotted bleeding from two different spots before the lunch break. The ambedextrous forward has always been known in Ohio for his hard nosed play,but really surprised onlookers with his ability to knock down the 17 footer and make decisions with the rock in the open court. Nic has been receiving the most interest from Central Michigan, Akron, and Kent State with many others playing the waiting game until the high school season rolls around.
James Demery, 6-5, SG/SF, The Oakwood School (NC), 2014
After establishing himself at last year’s Elite 80 as one of the better freshman in the state of North Carolina, Demery has continued to improve upon the freakish potential that he offers for a young wing player. Aside from nearly clearing a player during a dunk attempt, the sophomore showed off an improved slash game and had a NASTY between the legs dunk during the dunk contest. With three more years left in his high school career, he’s going to have a lot of BCS schools knocking on his door.
Karl Overstreet, 6-10, C, E.C. Glass HS (VA), 2013
The tallest player in the event was also the most recruited…by AAU programs. North Carolina’s finest were drooling over the near 7-footer with good coordination and legit moves on the blocks. Having not yet played a varsity game in his career, expect to hear a lot more from Overstreet this coming season.
Charles Taylor, 6-4, SF/PF, Springbrook HS (MD), 2012
The winner of the Elite 80 dunk contest shut the gym down after punching a ridiculous 360 between the legs dunk. Not just an athlete, he surprised many scouts on hand with his potential as a shooter by drilling a number of J’s from mid-range and beyond the arc. The potential is definitely going to be there for Taylor at the next level as a defender, given the fact that he is a world class athlete who can put the clamps on a number of positions.
DJ Blanks, 6-3, SG/PG, St. Vincent St. Mary (OH), 2012
Coming from LeBron’s alma mater and decked out in St. V gear, Blanks wasn’t one of the guys who was lighting up the scoreboard but was instead doing the little things that don’t show up in the box score. The combo guard had a unique ability to finish with either hand out to 10 feet and really did a great job of getting his hands on a ton of balls on D. Hearing from the likes of Western Michigan, High Point, Air Force,and South Alabama, DJ has yet to receive his first D-1 offer yet but its only a matter of time before that changes.
Dantae’ Carson, 6’1, PG/SG, Statesville Christian School (NC), 2012
The combo guard turned some heads with his athleticism on both ends of the court via acrobatic finishes and emphatic blocks. He’s not a pure point by any means, but flirts with the notion by dropping some beautiful dimes. It sounds like Appalachian State is leading in the race for Carson, which would definitely be a good look in my eyes.
Cedric Wiggins, 5’11, PG, Highland Springs HS (VA), 2014
One of the more pleasant surprises at the Elite 80 was Wiggins, who consistently slithered through the lane to create for himself and others. Equipped with a nice handle and laser vision, he offers just about everything that you’d like to see out of a young point guard on the offensive end. Lack of size is going to be an issue, but this is certainly a name to keep in the back of your head for the future.
R. Jackson White, 6-6, PF, The Steward School (VA), 2014
Unknown coming into the event, R. Jackson White left a lasting impression for all scouts in attendance. The 6-6 sophomore was a beast on the glass and looked great on pick and roll plays where he dived to the basket. He’s not a guy who you’ll be catching on Hoopmixtape anytime soon, but a guy who could really be a nice player down the line.