OTR Hoops: 16U Standouts Carolina Mania – April 9, 2024

We were in Spartanburg this weekend for Carolina Mania, the first of four Carolina stops that OTR will be making this spring. The field was deep with talent, several highly touted prospects and many new names also emerging. Here are a couple of guys that stood out in the 16u division.

By: Cam Rickers

Jossiah Johnson – 2026 – Team Wall (Pictured Above)

Johnson was one of the most intriguing college prospects we saw in the 16u division. His physical tools jump off the page, 6’6 and athletic with a D1 frame. Johnson uses those tools well around the paint, able to power through contact and finish at or above the rim. His shooting ability was also on display this weekend, several three-pointers and some tough turnaround jumpers from the post. Johnson’s recruitment hasn’t taken off yet, but he has the makings of a mid-major prospect.

Justin Caldwell – 2026 – Team United EYBL

Team United ran through the competition this weekend and opened a lot of eyes. Caldwell helped lead the charge, making a major impact with his physicality inside. Caldwell is 6’9 and built like a tight end. He takes everything up strong with two hands and draws a ton of fouls around the basket. On the glass, opposing bigs struggle to drive Caldwell off of his spot as he uses the lower body strength to maintain position. Caldwell currently holds offers from Mississippi State, VCU, Norfolk State, Hampton, Radford, and High Point.

Elton Smith – 2026 – Upward Stars 3SSB

There’s a lot to like about Smith’s game and he put all of it on display this weekend at Carolina Mania. Smith is both strong and mobile at 6’9 with some nimble footwork around the basket. What stood out the most to me was Smith’s motor. He was flying around in the back of the press, intercepting passes and chasing loose balls. Queens (NC) was the first school to offer Smith back in January and his list is bound to grow immensely.

Brandon James – 2026 – Strive 4 Excellence (Blue)

Strive 4 Excellence made a statement this weekend, winning all three of their games by double-digit margins. James played a major role in their success and provided a steady scoring option. James is a fluid athlete and moves really well, smooth with the rock and comfortable playing at different speeds. He showcased the ability to score from multiple levels in the halfcourt and also did a lot of damage in transition. Brandon James is now on our radar and should draw plenty more attention at OTR events this spring.

Michael Smalls – 2026 – Upward Stars Charleston

Smalls may not have filled up the scoresheet like some of the big-name standouts, but his rare traits caught the attention of our scouts. The DJ Burns comparisons were being drawn all weekend, not only the physical appearance but certain aspects of his game as well. Smalls is a big-body forward that’s surprisingly light on his feet. He showed flashes of some low post game and if Smalls can grow to finish consistently, he’ll be a problem down there. Smalls has certainly earned a second look from our staff after a strong showing at Carolina Mania.

Cam Rickers has lived in Georgia his whole life and joined OTR as scout/evaluator in 2023. He’s spent the past few years scouting for PrepHoops, building a reputable profile within the grassroots scene. In addition to his work for OTR and PrepHoops, he is also the Recruiting Director for Sewer South. You can reach him at camrickershoops@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @CamRickersHoops