Undiscovered Talent Shines at BlueChip Basketball Academy’s TriadFIRST48

(by Brandon Blakney)

Winston Salem, North Carolina, Over the weekend I had the privilege of taking in some clean and competitive hoops at the Triad First 48 Middle School Event. The energy in the building was electrifying, and these youngsters left it all on the floor. Camp season is in full effect and this is a time where prospects begin to separate themselves from their peers.

I put together a list of standouts that really shined for an array of different reasons on both ends of the floor, enjoy part one of “Brandon’s Big Time Ballers!”

5’9 2025 Jacari Brim (Forsyth Country Day School)

Brim left it all on the floor yesterday, his team fell in the championship and Brim made play after play he wouldn’t allow them to lose. Brim was an absolute fighter for his guys. Jacari is a streaky shooter that’s capable of heating up in a hurry. He capitalized on catch and shoot opportunities and is a creator off the dribble and with a quick first step he’s a relentless slasher. What really stood out was Brim’s active communication on defense, he was constantly calling out assignments and screens. As Brim continues to grow he will become more efficient taking contact and finishing around the cup.

5’6 2024 Jefferey Ebert (Meadowlark)

Ebert plays the right way he’s extremely unselfish, Ebert is a natural playmaker. Saturday Ebert showed advanced court vision on some timely deliveries, he’s got a nice feel for the game. At times Ebert had the rock on a string and when defenses slacked off, Ebert proved capable of creating his own shot. Ebert over dribbled at times, but he will become a guy, other players will enjoy playing with. Overall, he had one of the smoothest crossovers at the event. The foundation is there for Ebert to be a very good point guard at the high school level, the more reps he gets under his belt will polish a nice skillset.

5’10 2025 Jacob Smith (Meadowlark)

Aside from having the coolest flow on the court Smith is an absolute gamer. Team Bell took some bumps, but Smith never let up even when these guys fell down Smith continued to battle. Smith was another lead guard with a tight handle, and a nice feel for the flow of the game in the early stages. Smith hit guys in stride with timely deliveries, he recognized guys’ tendencies and where their spots were early on. Smith can stroke the leather as well, he’s got good size for the position, his length and quick hands caused havoc on defense. As Smith prepares for the high school ranks he will have to cut down on turnovers, so he can be the trusted floor general at whatever program is fortunate enough to land him.

6’1 2024 Isiah Lash (Southeastern Stokes)

Lash will absolutely be one to watch in the NC 2024 class over the next several years. Lash is a kid who could’ve went for 30 in every game if he felt like it, athletically he was in a class of his own Saturday, he was throwing down two hand tomahawks in warmups effortlessly. Lash is a long 6’1, he’s springy and possesses a high motor on both ends of the floor. Lash can get to the cup at will, and as he becomes less passive and more aggressive the game will become easier. Lash didn’t allow smaller guards to get underneath him and swipe at the ball, he also showed nice range from three. Lash also guards multiple positions, versatility could be a real strength for him.

5’9 2024 Barry Hairston Jr (Southeastern Stokes)

I just have to say the future of South Stokes basketball could be extremely bright. At this stage Hairston Jr gets to the rack at will, he’s a silky-smooth bucket getter. Hairston has a nose for the ball and he’s advertently skilled at putting the ball in the hoop. Hairston Jr was devastating in iso situations, he blew by anyone who dared stand in front of him, Hairston has a smooth pull up off the dribble and he found a good rhythm from three-point land. Hairston also won the free throw competition and was in the conversation for top overall prospect. Defensively, Hairston Jr is lockdown on the ball, he will work to make his matchup uncomfortable. Guards struggled to get around Hairston on the perimeter, the more Hairston Jr sharpens his skillset, and continues to grasp the ins and outs of the game, everything will continue to open and become easier.

6’0 2024 Areion Matthews (Walkertown)

Matthews is a versatile forward that flashed an impressive inside- out game. The more I saw the more Mathews showed, on the drive he welcomed contact at the cup, Mathews showed some explosiveness and ability to potentially play above the rim down the line. Matthews stepped out and stretched the defense from three, Matthews moved well on both ends, he’s active on the glass also. Matthews also possesses a high motor, he will battle for all the 50-50 balls. As Mathews grows and strengthens his lower body those dunk attempts will turn to converted makes.

5’6 2025 Dane Cassada (Calvary Day School)
Cassada was arguably the top shooter in the event, he’s an absolute sniper to say the least. Cassada is a kid capable of heating up in an absolute hurry, he’s what we call a potential zone breaker., Cassada has a fluid and quick release, and doesn’t need much space when his feet are set to get a shot off. Cassada wasn’t afraid to put it on the floor when the defense ran him off the line, I believe as Cassada sharpens that aspect of his game it will take him to another level. The shooting stroke could translate immediately at the high school level, if you can make shots and play defense playing time will be available.

6’3 2024 Will Young (Jefferson)

One of several bigs that impressed, Young really imposed his will in the middle and proved to be an anchor down low on both ends. Young has nice size and soft touch around the cup, another aspect that really shined was the hustle. Young runs the floor hard and he’s always ready to catch and finish in stride. Young showed reliable hands he squeezed the rock and kept the ball high away from swiping defenders. Young displayed a high basketball I.Q. I could really see that Young understands floor spacing, the importance of setting solid screens, and possessed high intangibles. You can tell from the jump the kid is a winner and the team did some Saturday.

5’9 2025 Bryson Mickey (Calvary Day School)

A wide body guard prospect with serious ball skills., Mickey won’t blow anyone away with his first step off the jump, but he’s extremely crafty with the ball, he plays with the game with flare. Mickey looked comfortable with both hands, he handled ball pressure with poise and didn’t commit many turnovers on the day. Mickey flashed the ability to absorb contact on the drive, he created looks for himself and others off the dribble. Mickey could be a guy that draws multiple defenders on the drive, and potentially strive in pick N roll sets, due to his quick decision making and playmaking abilities. Mickey will have to continue to grow into his body and find a true position to guard, both should come with time.

5’11 2024 Cory F

A lengthy and athletic wing prospect with some upside at the next level. Cory played all over the court and showed skills on the perimeter and down low banging amongst the bigs. Cory guarded multiple spots on the defensive side. At this early stage, Cory showed a decent handle, he’s built like a natural slasher, but he has to unlock the attack mode. Cory is a kid that came into camp with buzz and he’s already caught the attention of multiple high school programs. Cory was on a loaded squad Saturday and proved he could play alongside other talented players. Cory is a kid who will do the little things to help his squad close out games.