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Donovan Gregory believes Carmel Christian can qualify for GEICO Nationals

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Donovan Gregory was in 6th grade at Northside Christian Academy when the high school basketball team received an invitation to the 2014 DICK’S Nationals (now called the GEICO Nationals).
For all intents and purposes, the GEICO Nationals is the de facto national championship for high school basketball. Every year, eight teams from across the nation are invited to the Big Apple to compete for a title. The state of North Carolina has a rich history with sending teams to this season-culminating event. Most recently, Providence Day (Charlotte) and Greensboro Day played in the 2016 and 2017 events respectively.
Donovan Gregory has hopes that Carmel Christian, located in the Charlotte suburb of Matthews, N.C., might be next.
“That’s one of our main goals right now, to make it to GEICO,” Gregory said. “And I think we have the talent to do it.”

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Gregory, a senior at Carmel Christian, is committed to play at Appalachian State next season. He arrived at Carmel from Northside Christian as a sophomore, and since his arrival, he’s been making his presence felt as a player, but also as a person.
On Friday night, just after Gregory dropped 30 points in an exciting game against Louisville commit Josh Nickelberry and Northwood Temple— he’s surrounded by students on the court.
I patiently wait for him near half court while students from elementary school to high school are eager to approach him and congratulate him on his performance with a handshake or by requesting a picture. Some younger fans are also asking Gregory to sign their shirts, and another asks him to sign a hat.
Donovan Gregory thinks this Carmel Christian team has the talent to get to GEICO Nationals. (Photo: Carmel Christian Athletics)
Gregory fulfills every request before approaching me and respectfully answering all of my questions. It’s a little jarring, but he also responds to me with “Yes sir” and “No sir.” Just as a mental picture, I’m just in my early twenties, so I’m certainly not accustomed to a high schooler referring to me as ‘sir.’
However, such is life for Donovan Gregory. He’s a humble young man with a loud presence on the court.
Last year’s Carmel Christian team won the NCISAA 2A State Championship and Gregory is confident that his team can go back-to-back and qualify for Nationals.
“If we play together, I don’t think we can be beat,” Gregory said.
Gregory’s confidence in his team isn’t displaced either.
Although Carmel Christian might not have a big-time name like Cole Anthony on their roster, the Cougars are loaded with depth and feature eight different players that are either committed to play Division 1 basketball or being recruited by D1 schools.
A strong group of seniors with Gregory, Marten Maide (Liberty commit), DeAngelo Epps (College of Charleston), Myles Pierre (Houston Baptist), Jake Boggs (UNC Wilmington) and Johnathan Murphy (holds an offer from Hampton) will make Carmel Christian a tough matchup for anyone. There’s also juniors Ford Cooper (offered by Tulane) and Myles Hunter (offered by Hampton) that will make the Cougars a formidable force.
Under first-year head coach Joe Badgett, Carmel Christian finds their strength on defense. During one sequence on Friday night, the student section erupted after the team’s suffocating defense forced a turnover on two consecutive plays which resulted in two consecutive fast break dunks.
“It was a close game throughout the first half,” Gregory said. “But just as a team, we locked-in, played defense and got some stops when we needed to, and it paid off.”
There’s a lot to like about this Carmel Christian team, not the least of which is Donovan Gregory. He’s poised to prove why his squad is worthy of its national respect.
Michael McLamb is the Sports Editor at Mars Reel. Follow him on Twitter: @McLambSays
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VIDEO: Louisville commit Josh Nickelberry explodes for 75 points in two days

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Northwood Temple Academy (Fayetteville, N.C.) guard and Louisville commit Josh Nickelberry exploded for 75 points in two days over the weekend at the Carmel Christian Tip-Off Classic presented by Phenom Hoop Report. The four-star prospect from Fayetteville was electric with his ability to knockdown three-point jumpers from off-the-dribble.
Nickelberry went for 31 points on Friday night against Carmel Christian and followed it up with another outburst of 44 points on Saturday which included five made three-pointers.

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Nickelberry is set to join Chris Mack at Louisville in a 2019 recruiting class that is already being called the ‘Dream Class’ by fans. The Cardinals have successfully recruited five Top 100 prospects along with the 206th-ranked player according to 247Sports in Quinn Slazinski.
Irish-born Aidan Igiehon (No. 44) headlines the class along with Texas product Samuell Williamson (No. 45), hometown talent David Johnson (No. 72) and 6-foot-8 power forward Jaelyn Withers (No. 85).
Nickelberry is ranked No. 96 nationally by 247Sports and is considered one of the best shooting guards in the country.
Perhaps what’s most exciting about Nickelberry’s game is his size at 6-foot-4 combined with the next-level skill that he already possesses. Nickelberry’s jumper is silky smooth and he showcases an elite ability to break down defenses using screens to either pull-up from deep or slice through the defense and finish hard at the basket.
Nickelberry is a special talent that is set to do some major damage in his final season of high school basketball.
Michael McLamb is the Sports Editor at Mars Reel. Follow him on Twitter: @McLambSays
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