WILSON, N.C. – The absolute best part of the job we do as evaluators happens on the rare occasions that you find gold when you’re least expecting it. Wednesday was one of those occasions.
Greenfield School is located 54 miles from the Telep Residence. It’s an easy drive, and each year I hit up Rob Salter’s program in September to take inventory of his charges. As luck would have it, Salter’s sitting on a few nice players. One in particular caught my eye.
Last year at South Central, 2014 point guard Xavier Mills (Greenville, N.C./Greenfield) was an all-conference shooting guard. Fast forward to the present and he’s got the makings of an outstanding mid-level floor general. His transition to the lead spot is impressive, and though I’d never seen nor heard of him before, it’s hard to fathom him ever playing off the ball.
“Last year I could dribble but I didn’t see the floor well,” Mills said. “When I go outside I put cones on the ground and don’t let myself look down when I dribble.”
Pretty simplistic approach, huh? Well, it’s working. The 5-foot-11 point sees the floor well and has natural instincts. Frankly, he’s as good a communicator as I’ve seen at the position when compared to his peers. He’s confident, can handle the ball and will own the midrange pull-up.
The Citadel offered Mills last week and Buffalo was at the gym during my visit. There’s no doubt Buffalo will be recruiting him. Mills is the type of guard you feel comfortable putting in charge of your team and commanding the players on the court. It was a great first look at a good player. What level he ends up at is still to be determined but like I told his father, college will be paid for by someone else.
Much of the early traffic through Greenfield centers around 2014 power forward Logan McClane. He’s one of the most improved players in the state. McClane was paper thin last year and no better than the No. 3 prospect on his own team at the Oakwood School behind James Demery (Charlotte, N.C./Northside Christian) and SF Dante Buford (Jacksonville, N.C./ACD). McClane’s stock rose in July following a breakout effort at Big Shots. He’s since earned attention from Clemson, Miami (Ohio), UNCG, Mercer, ECU, St. Louis, Winthrop and Old Dominion. Not too shabby for a finesse 4-man who also is a terrific passer.
At this point, I could stop. My night at Greenfield was a success and burgeoning national scout Jason Telep (turns four Sept. 24) was also impressed. However, there’s a kicker. Long term, the top prospect Salter has could very well be 2016 point guard Jalen Harris (Wilson, N.C./Greenfield).
As a seventh grader two years ago, he hung 41 points on Word of God’s younger players. This kid has multiple gears, long arms and a natural scoring bend to his game. He might weigh 130 pounds, which will only be a concern if he’s still that weight in three years. For now, he’s a must add to the 2016 list.
Greenfield was defeated in last year’s state championship game, but there’s a wealth of young talent in the program heading back to the court this winter.