An exciting summer on the basketball floor for North Surry’s Carter Phillips was filled with memorable moments.
Playing AAU basketball with the NC Spartans West, Phillips reeled in plenty of hardware during the summer circuit. The Spartans took home multiple team championships, and Phillips earned himself an MVP award last weekend at the Big Shots Tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC.
However, the highlight of his summer undoubtedly came on July 11, when Phillips officially committed to Lees-McRae University.
“The whole summer was fun. I got to play a lot of basketball with a lot of good friends,” Phillips said. “But yeah, that day when I committed was probably the best part of the summer. It felt good to get it out there.”
The Lees-McRae coaching staff started developing a relationship with Phillips in the summer going into his sophomore year. The Bobcats stayed on him, and officially offered the sweet-shooting guard a scholarship in April.
Phillips waited a couple months, but stayed true to his plan of finding a future school before his senior season began. The constant communication between the Bobcat coaches and Phillips played a big part in his decision.
“They would just talk to me every day, telling me that they wanted me to commit and be a part of their team,” Phillips said. “They were really the only school that stayed on me from the beginning.”
Phillips admits that Lees-McRae really stepped up in its pursuit after North Surry attended a team camp in Banner Elk earlier this summer. According to Jamie Shaw, a writer for the website Phenom Hoop Report, Phillips was the best player at the camp, displaying a total skill set.
“Carter really shot the ball well that day. I think Lees-McRae was a little bit surprised though with how well he could ball-handle and see the floor,” North Surry coach Kevin King said. “He’s always been very well rounded.”
Phillips has always been a great shooter. When he arrives on campus next fall, Lees-McRae expects him to spread the floor and remain a sniper from long distance, but a big part in his ability to become a collegiate basketball player was developing the other facets of his game.
A little too slow for his own liking during a freshman season on the varsity team, Phillips combined natural body maturation with a strong work ethic to get to this point. He knows the work is still not done, and continuing to become a stronger, quicker player will improve his stock on the defensive end.
After a junior season that saw him average 15.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and four assists per game and earn his second All-Conference selection, Phillips looked to continue his gradual rise with the NC Spartans West this summer. He got to participate in noteworthy events like the Chris Paul (CP3) showcase and earned an invite to the Big Shots All-American camp in Myrtle Beach last weekend.
“It was a good experience,” Phillips said. “I definitely felt like I belonged and it was fun to face some of the best competition.”
His North Surry and Spartans teammate, Mason Hawks, was also in attendance at the All-American Camp. Hawks also has an offer from Lees-McRae, and although Phillips knows it’s not his decision, he would love for Hawks to jump on board the Bobcat 2017 recruiting class.
However, the first thing on both of their minds is the upcoming winter inside Ron King Gymnasium. The Hounds swept the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles last year before falling to Shelby in the third round of the NCHSAA 2A playoffs.
They’re hoping to make it a few steps further next season.
“Like any high school basketball player, I think we all believe we can win a state championship,” Phillips said. “We’ve got three starters coming back, so I think we’re all just excited about our chances.”
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16