Takeaways from Northwood’s NC Live Team Camp performance

The Chargers went 4-0 at last week’s camp.


BERMUDA RUN — As it prepares for its first season in the post-Drake Powell era, Northwood’s boys basketball team took the court over the weekend to preview what’s in store for the 2024-25 season.

Just before the first basketball dead period began Monday, the Chargers competed against other teams in front of college coaches from over 100 schools in the NC Live Team Camp Friday and Saturday. With a team of familiar faces sprinkled in with some impactful newcomers, Northwood performed well, going 4-0 in the two days.

The Chargers started with a tight 43-38 win over Southern Guilford, a team that went 29-2 last season, and wrapped up the first day with a dominant 76-51 victory over Cox Mill. On the second day, Northwood beat West Cabarrus, 60-47, and Butler, 52-44.

“I think we played really well,” Northwood head coach Matt Brown said. “We’ve got some new guys coming in, and the guys from last year are really stepping up…I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

After losing a senior class that included Powell, Fred Whitaker Jr, Jake Leighton, Ashton Elliott, Griffin Hobbs and Jayden Holder, a group that went 92-14 and was two-time state runner ups, Northwood is ushering in a new era that looks to replicate and build on prior success with its own flare.

The Chatham News & Record attended Northwood’s first two games of the NC Live Team Camp. Here’s a few takeaways about Northwood’s upcoming squad:

Cam Fowler and Chad Graves take their turn to lead

With guard Cam Fowler (6 feet, 4 inches) and forward Chad Graves (6 feet, 10 inches) becoming the tallest players on Northwood’s roster, it’s time that they also step into the largest roles on the team.

Fowler and Graves, both rising juniors, took charge on both sides of the ball in the NC Live Team Camp.

Offensively, Fowler looked to be the focal point of Northwood’s offense as he took a team-high of shot attempts in the first two games. Fowler showed that he can score in numerous ways, whether he’s creating his own opening for a jump shot, using a solid handle and speed to drive by defenders or finishing in transition.

Throughout the camp, centering the offense around Fowler’s versatility worked for Northwood and Fowler himself. Fowler averaged just over 21 points per game and led the team in scoring in each contest, scoring at least 20 points in three games. Against West Cabarrus, Fowler recorded a 32-point, 12-rebound double-double, and against Cox Mill, he shot 54% from the field and 50% from three in a 21-point, 12-rebound performance.

“(Fowler) is so aggressive, so coachable, and he’s getting better and better every game,” Brown said. “He’s going to be really good this year.”

For Chad Graves, he’ll look to create a dominant paint presence while Northwood’s athletic scoring wings and guards create space on the perimeter. Graves was the recipient of many entry passes from driving guards, and with a more aggressive approach around the rim, he showcased some emphatic finishes.

But while Fowler will take more of the lead on scoring, Graves looks to be taking the lead on defense and rebounding. Graves didn’t hesitate to challenge shots outside the paint, and with his tall, lengthy frame, it’s a challenge to finish over him. As long as he stays out of foul trouble, his ability to move laterally from block to block will make it hard for teams to score in the paint, and with Fowler also putting in work on the boards, the two should record a good number of double-doubles next season.

“(Graves is) more talkative (and) more assertive,” Brown said. “He knows the system, so he’s confident in it, and he’s going to have a huge role. He’s a defender, shot blocker, rebounder — he can do it all.”

Said Brown, “Cam and Chad are Division I players. High major I feel like.”

New additions make immediate impact

Northwood brought in two transfers for its guard corps who both contributed to the team in their own way at the NC Live Team Camp.

Rising sophomore Josiah Brown came from Heide Trask High School and brought elite ball-handling and sharpshooter instincts with him that adds another scoring threat for the Chargers. Brown, a 5-foot-9 guard, really put his shooting skills on display in the win over Cox Mill in which he made five out of eight three-point attempts for 15 points. As a primary ball-handler for Northwood, Brown also filled his role well, providing drivers another perimeter threat to kick out to alongside sharpshooter Beau Harvey.

With Brown in the game, Northwood’s ball movement became even more effective as a perimeter of Isaiah Blair, Fowler, Harvey and Brown kept defenses on their toes and in constant motion. Brown can also score off the dribble and find opportunities in the paint, taking some of the pressure off Fowler.

Chatham County fans should be familiar with former Jordan-Matthews guard Raje Torres who is now a member of the Chargers. Torres, a 5-foot-7 rising sophomore guard, looked to be a defensive pest and a smart offensive player that knows how to use his speed and vision to flow into Northwood’s offense.

“(Torres), he’s a defender,” Brown said. “He plays hard, and Josiah can shoot the mess out of the ball. They’re only rising sophomores. We’re going to be pretty good for years to come.”

New approach?

With the departure of Powell and a lengthy wing in Leighton, size isn’t as much as a quality for this upcoming Northwood team, but it has plenty of athletic, skilled guards and wings to work with.

Brown expects Northwood basketball to look different this season with more of a team-oriented offense intended to get its various shooters opportunities. In the NC Live Team Camp, the Chargers often took its time in half court offense and used quick passes to create driving lanes and open shots. What that created was games like the win over Cox Mill in which Northwood shot 59 % from the floor as a team due to shots being high-percentage or uncontested for the most part.

“It’s going to be a lot different than last year,” Brown said. “Flow offense, a lot more sets to get our shooters open, a lot more off-ball screens, less on-ball stuff, and defensively, we’re going to mix it up. (We’ll) try to figure out what works during the course of the game. Again, we don’t have (Powell), so we can’t just focus on man to man and play on the best player. But, we’ve got (Blair). He’s had to guard (Powell) the last three years.”

Said Brown, “We’ve always played team basketball. This year is going to be more of it than in the past.”