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Despite new hurdles, stock rising for area basketball players

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While it’s harder than ever for high school basketball players to get in front of college coaches during the month of July with their respective AAU programs, that hasn’t stopped area performers from making significant gains in their stock at the next level.

In years past, July served as an oasis for high-level high school players and college coaches alike, with the NCAA allowing three separate evaluation periods for coaches. Typically, this time would be spent at any number of AAU tournaments around the country, as coaches could evaluate players in person, although face-to-face contact was prohibited.

But beginning in 2019, the NCAA modified its approach in response to reform efforts in college basketball. The July period was changed to allow attendance at a “nonscholastic event certified by the NCAA” (July 11-14) and attendance at an “NCAA development youth development camp” (now officially called the NCAA College Basketball Academy) from July 23-28. The former keeps marquee events like the annual Peach Jam in play for coaches to attend. More on the NCAA College Basketball Academy later.

All other days fell under the auspices of either a quiet period or a dead period, the latter prohibiting evaluation and in-person recruiting in any form.

The NCAA did add a pair of evaluation periods for “scholastic events” from June 21-23 and June 28-30, something that the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association took advantage of with showcases in Greensboro and Charlotte. Greenfield School was one of the teams represented in Greensboro.

Not to be outdone, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association and the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association held a showcase at Davie County High in Mocksville on June 22. SouthWest Edgecombe High’s Keishon Porter, a rising senior, was one of the attendees at the event.

But even with these controversial changes to the recruiting calendar, players are still finding ways to stand out.

Arguably, Porter has shown the most improvement in his stock in a short period of time. Playing for Team Trezz, a team backed by former North Edgecombe star and current Los Angeles Clipper Montrezl Harrell on the AAU circuit, the 6-foot-5 Porter has seen his Division I stock explode in a manner similar to his ability to play above the rim. Porter, a 2018-19 Wilson Times All-Area selection, picked up an offer from SEC member Texas A&M to add to his Div. I offers from UNC Greensboro, Hampton, Hofstra, Radford and Hampton. He also has an offer from Div. II UNC Pembroke.

Currently ranked No. 12 among North Carolina players in the Class of 2020 by hoopseen.com, Porter also stands as the No. 2-ranked shooting guard in the class by the same website.

Already with an offer in hand from Wake Forest, Greenfield rising senior Dji Bailey is winding down his time with Garner Road, the program backed by former NBA star David West. Bailey, the No. 11-ranked player in the North Carolina Class of 2020 by hoopseen.com, suffered a broken middle finger while playing in the semifinals of the Adidas Gauntlet Summer Championship in Birmingham, Alabama. Garner Road won and advanced to the championship, but lost to the Atlanta Celtics in the finals.

After traveling and supporting Garner Road in its final two tournament stops of the summer in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Bailey will have surgery on his finger on Wednesday, July 31, and is expected to be a full go for the start of Greenfield’s 2019-20 season, where the Knights will attempt to defend their NCISAA 1-A crown with a schedule that includes a return to the prestigious John Wall Holiday Invitational. Farmville Central, the reigning NCHSAA 2-A champion, will also participate in the tournament for the first time ever.

NCAA COLLEGE BASKETBALL ACADEMY

As part of the NCAA’s efforts to reform college basketball in the wake of bribery and corruption scandals, its College Basketball Academy will make its debut in 2019 at four sites across the country. Run by the NCAA with the assistance of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, coaches will be allowed to attend and evaluate prospects at these sites which includes drills, life skills sessions, and live games.

Two sessions from July 22-25 and July 25-28 will be held between the University of Houston, Illinois, UConn and Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, with expenses for the player and one parent or guardian being paid for by the NCAA.

Three Greenfield rising seniors — Trey Pittman, Jacari Outlaw and Creighton Lebo — will take part in the prospect camps.

Outlaw is currently attending the first July 23-25 session at UConn, while Lebo is set to be at the July 26-28 session in Phoenix. 

Pittman leaves for Storrs, Connecticut, on Thursday, where he will participate in the second three-day session on UConn’s campus.

The camp period figures to be a pivotal span for Pittman, a 6-7 small forward out of Wilmington Basketball Club Elite. Approximately 20 schools ranging from Div. I to Div. III have initiated contact, but no actionable offers have been received to this point.

Both Pittman and Lebo took part in the Jay Bilas Skills Camp, held June 7-9 in Charlotte. 

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