Carolina Challenge Notebook

RALEIGH, N.C. --- The fifth annual Dave Telep Carolina Challenge was held at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh on Saturday. This year's event featured a talented group of young players and a handful that are on the UNC radar.

Anton Gill - 6-3, 170 lbs PG/SG - Raleigh Ravenscroft (2013)

Gill turned the morning session in the main gym into his own personal dunk contest. He pushed the tempo and filled the lanes on the break for a handful of easy dunks. He finished with 23 points -- 12 coming in the second half -- and had three highlight reel dunks including a windmill on a fast break. A couple hours later, it was more of the same, this time to the tune of 28 points, and finished as the camp's fourth-leading scorer.

It would be easy to say Gill took advantage of some poor transition defense -- which he did -- but he also has to get credit for seeing a weakness and attacking it. Pushing the tempo and getting out in transition are hallmarks of Gill's game in any setting.

Gill only shot from the perimeter less than he attacked, but he showed good form when he did shoot. When attacking the basket, Gill had great body control and was able to absorb contact and finish with a double clutch.

As of now Gill has offers from UNC-Charlotte and ECU but has heard a lot from North Carolina, Wake Forest and Clemson. He attended the UNC/Wake Forest game earlier this year and said he enjoyed the visit to Chapel Hill.

"It's really nice," Gill said. "Hopefully if I keep working hard, I can get to a place like that."

Isaiah Hicks - 6-8, 190, PF - Raleigh Body of Christ (2013)

Hicks had a tough physical and mental test early Saturday in his matchup with aggressive junior Montrezl Harrell. While Hicks was satisfied letting the game come to him, Harrell insisted on challenging the younger Hicks and scored 21 points against him.

"I knew he was going to the basket every time and I couldn't stop it," Hicks said frankly.

While Hicks' humility is appreciated, it's not 100 percent accurate. Harrell got his points but he also forced his offense to do it. Hicks looked raw on both sides of the floor but stayed within himself and didn't force the action. He had 14 points against Harrell, on dunks, putbacks and one jump shot, but resisted the urge to go one-on-one with Harrell.

With that said, Hicks would've benefitted from an extra 20 pounds (Harrell is listed 45 pounds heavier) and a little more fire Saturday. With his length and athleticism, Hicks has a lot of upside. He just needed to get after it a little more.

When asked what schools he was interested in, Hicks only mentioned Carolina.

"Carolina is the first one and that's it really," Hicks said.

Theo Pinson - 6-5, 170, SG - Oak Ridge Military (2014)

Pinson was a great example of how the showcase format can result in some misleading performances. For the first half of his first game, Pinson looked lost. He dribbled too much and couldn't find a rhythm with his new teammates.

But after feeling the game out, Pinson started getting out in transition, filling lanes and finishing strong at the rim. He finished with 10 second half points and started to show why he's so highly regarded in his class.

"I tried to see where everybody's game was and see how I would contribute to the team and help us get a W," Pinson said. "So I saw that everybody liked to run the floor so I just ran the floor, too."

Pinson knocked down two three pointers in the second half but his form, by his own admission, was a little shaky. For now, he's at his best using his athleticism to finish at the rim.

Despite being in the final months of his freshman year, Pinson says he already has offers from Syracuse, Georgetown, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Marquette and Tennessee. He said he hasn't heard from UNC yet but he'd be open to it.

The word on Pinson is already out on a national level, as he was one of only 24 players nationwide selected this past week to the USA Basketball Men's Developmental National Team.

Kennedy Meeks - 6-8, 260, C - West Charlotte (2013)

Meeks is a prospect gaining attention after a state title run at West Charlotte this month followed by an all-state selection.

Physically, it's hard to ignore the similarities between Meeks and a young Deon Thompson. Both are a little heavy with soft hands and nice touch but Meeks showed Saturday he still has a ways to go before reaching Thompson's level.

Early on in his first outing, Meeks struggled with the physical play of Tyreke Coger. Coger outworked and outmuscled Meeks early, scoring 11 first half points. He also forced Meeks to drift from the basket and rely on fade away 17-foot jumpers.

Early in the second half Meeks started to match Coger's intensity level. After catching the ball at the free throw line, Meeks dropped his shoulder into Coger's chest and audibly knocked the air out of him. From there out, Meeks started to compete better with Coger.

Meeks finished with a modest statline against Coger but it's important to remember he didn't get a ton of opportunities. He will be someone to keep an eye on to see how he progresses.

He said right now he's hearing from Georgetown and everyone in the ACC except for Duke and Georgia Tech, adding that he last heard from UNC a couple months ago.

Torian Graham - 6-4, 180, SG - Raleigh Word of God (2012)

Graham was one of the camp's top offensive performers, finishing as the second-leading scorer at 23.0 points per game.

Graham is a long, wiry guard who can put the ball in the basket a lot of different ways. He was getting to the basket easily for dunks, reverse lay-ins and also knocked down two three pointers. Graham has a little bit of a hitch in his shot but is creative offensively and undeniably has a scorer's mentality.

Afterward, Graham said he'd spoken to UNC two weeks ago and that his top three was currently Kentucky, Duke and UNC with Kentucky as his leader.

Eric Johnson - 6-2 175, PG - Durham Kestrel Heights 2014

Physically, Johnson has a lot in common with Graham, who was his teammate at this event. Both are slight in frame but athletic, bouncy and talented scorers. The main difference of course is that as a point guard, Johnson looked to involve his teammates more than Graham did Saturday.

Johnson is a prototypical drive, draw and dish point guard. He had no problem breaking down defenders and getting to the rim. While he didn't set up a lot of baskets around the rim for his teammates on Saturday, he was capable of finding open shooters after he got into the lane.

Johnson said with only a day to get used to his teammates, he didn't get a good enough feel to consistently find them.

"I usually get my teammates a little more involved -- easier shots for my big," Johnson said. "Me and my big normally work together a little bit better."

He also displayed his shooting range knocking down several threes from beyond the arc. With his athleticism, scoring ability and term-oriented nature, Johnson looks like a serious prospect at the point guard position for 2014.

Johnson is still early in his recruiting process and doesn't have any offers but has heard from UNC, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia Tech. He was on campus in Chapel Hill earlier this season for the Maryland game and said he's just getting to know the UNC staff.

"I think Carolina is a great program. I like Carolina a lot," Johnson said. "They're trying to feel where I'm at and I'm trying to feel where they're at."


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