The Phenom Hoop Report:Looking back at the “Then and Now” of JaQuel Richmond(WES), Kennedy Meeks(West Charlotte) and others from the Dave Telep Carolina Challenge

Rick Lewis is looking back today and he’ll give you the inside on players that participated in Dave Telep’s Carolina Challenge and this ought to give you an idea where these players were and where they are now going……

from Rick Lewis at The Phenom Hoop Report and at

We continue our look at last year’s Dave Telep Carolina Challenge that took place in Raleigh, N.C. This is one of the single greatest exposure events in the country as 80 of the top players in North Carolina were chosen for this prestigious event. We will go back through our archives for our evaluations from the event with the “Then and Now”. This is the third issue of the series.

Kennedy Meeks- 6’8 (2013- West Charlotte)
THEN: Much as already been written about Meeks, but the 6’8 PF showcased something this past weekend that I have not seen before. Meeks did average 12 PPG, but it was his ability to step out and knock down the open 15 foot jumper that impressed me. The wide body PF would make an excellent “pick and pop” guy at the next level. He has a soft shooting touch and has excellent hands. While Meeks is a “below the rim” PF, he uses his body extremely well to get rebounds. Once he garnishes the rebound, he is fundamentally sound and textbook in his outlet passes. He rarely ever puts the ball on the floor after a rebound. The biggest challenge for Meeks is conditioning and understanding how good he really can be.

NOW: Kennedy Meeks has enjoyed an up and down season, but really seems to be playing his best basketball when it counts the most. Last year, Meeks led West Charlotte to the 4A state championship and with it high expectations for the coming season. That being said, Meeks is one of the best passers in the country for his size and position and is absolutely fantastic passing out of the post area. He is a two handed passer and has excellent court vision and is often used efficiently as the outlet person to break the opposing team’s full court pressure. While Meeks continues to be a “below the rim” PF, one only has to look at Miami’s Reggie Johnson to see how important and effective size is on the interior. More importantly, Meeks is very unselfish player and plays extremely well in the team structure and his stellar play has West Charlotte making another run at the state championship.

Isaiah Hicks – 6’8”, 190 PF (2013 – Body of Christ, Raleigh, NC)
THEN: His wingspan/length is overwhelming at times for his opponents despite the sophomore’s slight frame. For Hicks, the knock has always been “want to” and from what I saw on Saturday he seems to have it in abundance. Hicks used his condor-like physique to alter/block shots all game and ran the floor very well on the other end. He was very productive and event displayed a nice 15 foot face up jumper. He is an extremely quick leaper and has a huge upside.

NOW: Hicks transferred back to Oxford Webb and was ineligible until mid season for the recent UNC commitment. Hicks used the DTCC as a platform to elevate this play and stock and combined it will an outstanding spring/summer with the Garner Road AAU team. Since then, he has skyrocketed up the national ranking and rightfully so and without question is the top prospect in North Carolina in the 2013. He has impeccable timing on blocking shots and is rapidly developing his offensive game to match his defensive ability. Without question, Hicks is only scratching the surface on his potential.

JaQuel Richmond-6’2, PG (2014-High Point Wesleyan)
THEN: Richmond “reclassed to 2014 when he transferred from Greensboro Dudley to HP Wesleyan and the young guard will be one of the top lead guards in the 2014 class in North Carolina. I’ve had the opportunity to watch Richmond numerous times and must admit the DTCC was a “player friendly” playground for him. Currently, Richmond is a strong PG with the ability to attack the rim. He is a stronger finisher and he possesses a nifty left to right crossover move that goes directly into a pull up jumper. Richmond has good court vision and makes nice passes off the dribble. The next improvement for Richmond on the horizon is to improve on his outside shot. Currently, he has a “hitch” in his shot and sometimes his elbow does flair which leads to some inconsistent outside shooting. If he can improve upon his shooting mechanics, the sky is the limit for this talented PG.

NOW: JaQuel has all the physical attributes coaches are looking for in a high major PG. He has good size, strength and athleticism and is considered one of the premier point guards nationally in the 2014 class. While HPW had a solid year, it had to be a disappointing season considering they had so much talent as any team in the state. Richmond played along FSU signee Montay Brandon and Theo Pinson for High Point Wesleyan. The next step in Richmond’s development is to become more of a floor general and taking control over his team.

Josh Newkirk- 6’1 PG (2013-Word of God)
THEN: Newkirk played on the talented Word of God team this past season and one has to wonder how in the world WOG did not win the NCISAA 1A state championship with all that talent. That being said, Newkirk played more of a facilitator on WOG, but this past weekend Newkirk switch gears from pass first PG into a scoring PG. Newkirk finished 3rdin overall scoring with averaging 19.7 PPG in the 3 game event. Newkirk’s biggest strength is his ability to attack the basket and he does possess a sneaky quick first step. Newkirk does have good athleticism and leaping ability as he continually finished in transition with dunks. Newkirk is also in the mold of many young lead guards that attacks the basket extremely well, but will need to develop a consistent outside jumper. That being said, Newkirk did display a running floater to his arsenal on Saturday along with a dribble drive pull up jumper.

NOW: Newkirk physical attributes are simply his calling card. Newkirk has blazing speed in the open court and has no problem getting into the lane with so much ease. The next step in his development is learning to control the game and learning how to change speeds as a PG. Currently, Newkirk has two speeds, fast and faster which is necessarily not a bad thing.

T.J. Williams – 6’8”, 200 PF (2013 – Ashley, Wilmington, NC)
THEN: We first reported about T.J. at the NC Phenom 150 Fall Evaluation Camp and he picked up where he left off in October. T.J. Williams is the kind of player who makes coaches in attendance smile because he plays the right way. He anchored the backline of his team’s defense by constantly talking and directing teammates. A willing defender, Williams tends to panic a little after post entries, but the young man didn’t take a play off in two games I watched. Hustle and good positioning produced more points, rebounds, and deflections for the Ashley HS product than anyone could’ve imagined before tipoff. I was impressed with the way he closed out on shooters and boxed out which is rarely seen at showcase events.

NOW: Williams continues to be one of the more fundamentally sound players for his size and position especially on the defensive end of the court. Rarely do you find college players much less high school players know the proper technique of closing out and the art of boxing out, but Williams is head and shoulders above his peers in this regard. He is still developing offensively and it will be fun to watch him once again at the upcoming DTCC.

Montarius Hall – 6’7”, 220 PF/C (2012 – Victory Christian, Charlotte, NC)
THEN: The bruising forward wore me down over the course of two games as he constantly had his paws on offensive rebounds, deflected passes, and bodied opponents into difficult shots. In short, he was all over the place. Finished consistently above the rim with two-handed power dunks. Refreshingly, Hall didn’t seem to be out there trying to prove he could do something he cannot. Hard worker!

NOW: Montarius Hall transferred to Oak Hill Academy and enjoyed an outstanding senior season. Plagued by early season shoulder injuries, Hall got stronger as the season progressed and has a solid all around game. He is a strong power forward that has excellent hands and he has a soft shooting touch out to 15 feet. In addition, he loves to dunk with authority once in the lane.