Seven takeaways from the Pangos All-American Camp

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LONG BEACH, Ca – The Pangos All-American Camp is one of the premier camps in the camp-loaded slate of June. The 12th annual camp, held at Cabrillo High School in Long Beach, offered another look at some top national prospects as well as some good West Coast players.

1. Stephen Zimmerman is a well-rounded big man: There have been questions surrounding Zimmerman all spring about his speed decreasing as he added weight to his 7-foot frame, but the lefty big man from Las Vegas is still the No. 4 player in the 2015 class according to Rivals.com and Zimmerman has a tremendous skillset.

Zimmerman’s added muscle allowed him to make plays more frequently in the post and he’s also confident as a ball-handler in the open floor. He runs really well end-to-end and can knock in jumpers from the short corner or elbow while also dropping in hooks.

Zimmerman entered the Pangos All-American Camp as the highest ranked prospect and played up to that lofty status with a good weekend.

RELATED: Pangos All-American Saturday

2. Isaiah Briscoe is an effective point guard: Isaiah Briscoe has never seen a shot he didn’t like, but the 2015 guard from Roselle, New Jersey isn’t credited as often as he should be for his passing. Rivals.com national analyst Eric Bossi threw out a Kyle Lowry comparison and I can see why. Briscoe is a big-bodied guard with a quick crossover that likes to get in the lane and make plays.

Although at 6-foot-3 he’s played more of a scoring guard role in the past when I’ve seen him, at Pangos he made numerous plays as a passer and got in the lane at will using a variety of good moves around the hoop. Briscoe is the No. 19 overall prospect in Rivals.com‘s rankings and he looks like a probable All-American in this class.

3. The Pac-12 has some strong incoming prospects: The Pangos All-American Camp had great national prospects like Briscoe and some standouts from Texas and Georgia, but the strength of the camp came in the abundance of top-flight west coast players in attendance and many of them are already committed to Pac-12 programs.

Arizona commit Tyler Dorsey is having a good spring as a scoring guard and the 6-foot-4 class of 2015 standout had plenty of good moments at Pangos this weekend, including two spirited battles with Briscoe. Dorsey was good enough to earn Camp Most Outstanding Player honors along with Briscoe and Zimmerman.

Washington commit Marquese Chriss had a really positive weekend in the open-floor setting. With all of the games being uptempo, Chriss’ run-and-jump game showed off favorably as he ran the wing for alley-oops and played above the rim with ease. He still has to develop a mid-range game and improve his defense, but Chriss has a lot of great athletic attributes heading into the Pac-12.

Chimezie Metu recently pledged to USC as a 6-foot-9 skilled class of 2015 forward and Metu also benefitted from the up-and-down games of the camp. Metu’s handle and passing ability was on display and he’s tough to stop going to the rim if he has a full head of steam. Metu’s high-flying style should fit in well in Andy Enfield’s offense at USC.

UCLA commit Lonzo Ball shows a tremendous IQ and plays with a lot of savvy for a 2016 guard. The 6-foot-5 tall point guard was great at times at Pangos and the five-star was one of the better prospects in attendance.

RELATED: Pangos All-American Camp Friday

4. San Diego State and Gonzaga closed some decent guards: Jeremy Hemsley also came off-the-board in the last few weeks as the recent San Diego State commit showed well at Pangos. Hemsley does a lot of things well as a 6-foot-4 guard. A strong athlete who can defend and make plays, Hemsley also hit some shots and looks like a strong 2015 grab for the Aztecs.

Gonzaga landed another tough and high-IQ guard in Utah native Jesse Wade. A class of 2015 prospect, Wade had some good moments playing alongside Kevin Dorsey and knocked down shots, made plays as a passer and also defended pretty well on the perimeter. At 5-foot-11, Wade is small but he plays hard and is skilled.

These two West Coast powers might not play in the Pac-12 but they are perennially in the top 25 thanks to solid prospects like these. Hemsley and Wade are two guards that start a solid foundation with a class.

5. There are still some under-recruited guards to track this summer: The Pangos All-American Camp is often a launching pad for some players nationally and this year was no exception. Although I won’t overvalue a camp setting before viewing these players more in a real halfcourt tactical basketball setting, the Pangos camp still gives a glimpse at skills and tools that players have at their disposal.

Three 2015 guards played really well at Pangos and will be watched closely in July by college programs.

Point guard Paris Austin was one of the biggest stories of the weekend as the 5-foot-11 guard from Oakland continued a strong uptick to the end of his spring. Austin knocked down shots, set up teammates and also defended on the perimeter.

Austin told NBCSports.com that he has scholarship offers from Florida State, Tulsa, Utah State, San Jose State, Boise State, Loyola Marymount and Pacific, and Creighton, Wake Forest, Texas and Cal have recently been involved and showing interest.

Kevin Dorsey is another 5-foot-11 guard that will be tracked closely in July by college coaches. The native of Fairfax, Virginia scored off of screens, changed paces well and knocked in some jumpers from the perimeter.

Dorsey told NBCSports.com that Creighton, Florida Gulf Coast, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ole Miss, VCU and Virginia Tech have offered but he’s been solid with Team Takeover in the Nike EYBL and is poised for a potential breakout July.

Sammy Barnes-Thompkins had a tough and productive Pangos Camp. His coaches in camp liked Barnes-Thompkins’ play and he had a toughness about him while playing a bit of both guard spots. The 6-foot-2 native of Phoenix only has a scholarship offer from San Jose State while Arizona State, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wichita State show interest.

6. Some national-level wings to monitor in July: This was my first time viewing Baton Rouge, Louisiana native Brandon Sampson, but he was very impressive knocking down tough perimeter shots while getting to the rim a little bit as well. The 6-foot-5 Sampson is currently regarded as the No. 73 prospect in Rivals.com‘s national rankings.

Also showing well on the wing was Alpharetta, Georgia native Malik Beasley. The 6-foot-4 Beasley has a quick first step and shows quickness getting to the basket and scoring. He gets a little shot happy, but he’s a talented scorer that is itching to play in front of college coaches in July.

After showing up on Saturday, Las Vegas native Ray Smith continued his solid spring by earning co-MVP honors in the camp’s Top 30 Cream of the Crop Game and at 6-foot-7, he’s a problem on the wing because of his length, athleticism and ability to knock in shots. Smith is becoming more well-rounded on the wing and will be one to watch in July.

RELATED: Ray Smith throws down a nasty dunk in Pangos highlight reel (VIDEO)

7. Big man Steve Enoch breaks out: Memphis is one of the only schools on Norwalk, Connecticut native Steve Enoch, but that should change after a good performance a Pangos this weekend.

Enoch played well throughout the camp and could stake a claim as the camp’s second best big man behind Zimmerman. Enoch will have to show more against national competition, but at 6-foot-9, many big-time programs will be interested in him this July.

Five-star forward King picks Oregon

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Oregon has nabbed one of the top players in the 2018 class.

Louis King, a top-20 forward, committed to Dana Altman and the Ducks on Thursday via a video on social media.

“It’s been a tough, strenuous process,” King said, “but today makes all of that worth it. I’ve been blessed with great opportunities.”

The 6-foot-8 New Jersey native selected Oregon over other finalists Seton Hall, NC State, Purdue and Kansas.

“I would like to thank each of them for all the time and effort they put into my recruitment,” King said. “I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates that have pushed me and helped get me to this point in my career. My friends for all their love and support, but most of all I would like to thank my family, who has been by my side through it all.”

King is Altman’s second commit in 2018, joining four-star big man Miles Norris, a top-75 recruit in the class. It’s the beginning of what could be an absolutely dynamic class for Oregon, which still has two scholarships remaining.

“Out of all of my schools I felt like it was best for me and my family,” King said to MADE Hoops. “Coach Altman said that I would have the ball in my hands throughout the season. When I get there, it will be an easy adjustment for me with how I handle rock and get my teammates open. Our goal is to win a national championship next year.”

 

Four-star forward Miller Kopp commits to Northwestern

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Northwestern has a second four-star recruit in its 2018 class.

The Wildcats received a commitment from Miller Kopp, a 6-foot-6 forward, on Thursday, he announced via social media.

“I built a really strong relationship with (coach) Chris Collins and I fell in love with the campus,” Kopp told Scout. “I knew it would be a nice campus and have that stuff, but I think me and him are wired the same way. II think that his personality fits mine and I think we complement each other. I’m definitely excited to be able to go to a program on the rise and be able to make some history.”

Kopp picked the Wildcats over offers from Georgetown, Butler, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. The Houston native is ranked in the top-100 of his class by most recruiting services.

He gives Collins and the Wildcats an exceedingly strong 2018 class, which already featured four-star guard Pete Nance of Ohio along with three-star recruits Jordan Lathon and Ryan Young. It represents a major leap forward for Northwestern. It would appear that the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance last March has brought momentum to the recruiting trail.

 

NEXT ONE? Hoops phenom at 13 has college offer, NBA height

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Emoni Bates walks out a front door of Clague Middle School with just inches to spare.

A wide smile tops his 6-foot-7, extra-lean frame. He’s holding a seventh-grade honor society certificate in his right hand. His braces gleam in the afternoon sun.

Meet the best 13-year-old basketball player in America, according to some recruiting services. One of his highlight reels on YouTube has been viewed about 1 million times.

“I don’t really pay attention to it,” Emoni insists in a voice just louder than a whisper, “because if I pay attention to it, it’s just going to get to my head.

“And I don’t want it to get to my head. I just want to play basketball.”

He’s got the pedigree.

Emoni’s father, E.J. Bates, has been around the game most of his life. He picked greens and baled hay as a kid in nearby Milan, Michigan, then developed into a smooth-shooting guard. But he didn’t take school seriously until it was too late. Instead of playing for a basketball power like Kansas and maybe even in the NBA, E.J. wound up going to Kentucky Wesleyan and settling for pro hoops in Switzerland.

E.J. is determined to make sure his son doesn’t make the same mistake. The academics are a sign of that. House rules bar Emoni from picking up a basketball until his homework is done.

Yet E.J. knows when kids are this good this early, distractions roll in like waves. Already, it seems, lots of people want a piece of Emoni. Prep, private and public high school coaches are lining up. Colleges have him on their radar. DePaul took it a step further, offering Emoni a scholarship in late August. Two other much-touted players in the Class of 2022 — Amari Bailey of Illinois and Skyy Clark of California — also have offers from DePaul.

E.J. knows the shoe company bird dogs and other hustlers looking to buy favors are lurking, too. So he and wife Edith, who works for the Red Cross, keep their inner circle very tight.

“I’m his coach to keep the snakes away,” Bates says, sitting on one of Clague’s concrete benches. “We’re not for sale.”

The Bates family has agreed to provide The Associated Press with a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the life of one of the most coveted basketball prospects in the country for at least the next five years. The periodic series will include video, photos, audio and text updates to track his progress.

Will Emoni stay near his current home to attend a public high school? Or will he take his next step at a private school like Detroit Country Day, like Michigan native Chris Webber?

Will he follow the footsteps of Marvin Bagley III and other five-star prospects, reclassifying to finish high school in three years? Bagley did to play college ball at Duke this coming season — and potentially to get a jump on a pro future.

Will E.J. and Emoni emulate the father-son team of LaVar and Lonzo Ball, grabbing headlines while hawking their own brand at every turn?

No one knows.

E.J. says all options are on the table. But he won’t be loud, unlike LaVar Ball in the lead-up to his son Lonzo being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I don’t have to brag about what we’re doing,” E.J. says. “I let other people do all the talking about how good Emoni is because word of mouth is the best advertising there is.”

A POTENTIAL STAR IS BORN

Emoni James-Wayne Bates was born Jan. 28, 2004, at the University of Michigan hospital. He was on the light side — 6 pounds, 7 ounces — and a little long at 21 inches. Just over a year later, Emoni slept with his head cradled in his left arm and his right wrapped around a black and red basketball. A cherished photo was made.

“He would always sleep with the ball,” his father recalls, holding a framed picture in his Ypsilanti, Michigan, home. “If the ball wasn’t around, he would cry about the ball. Even to this day, he has a mini-ball he keeps with him, which is crazy to me.”

There were more hints. During a second visit to the doctor, E.J., who is 6-foot-4, and Edith, 5-9, asked how tall their son might grow.

“He was off the charts,” E.J. laughs, “so they couldn’t tell us.”

Emoni has shot up 7 inches in the last two years. He’s tall enough right now to play shooting guard at any level. He handles the ball like a point guard and launches 3-pointers like a savvy veteran. He can create his own shot like a wing or drive the lane and dish off to a teammate like another rail-thin former prodigy, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant.

But adding weight and muscle is an ongoing challenge. He weighs just 155 pounds — not heavy or strong enough to play a dominating inside game that would complement his fluid perimeter skills.

“We try to stuff him full of food at night and hope it sticks,” E.J. sighs.

TEEN CELEBRITY

The Adidas Invitational in Fishers, Indiana, attracts some of the Midwest’s top seventh-grade AAU teams. Inside Best Choice Fieldhouse, talk centers on whether the Bates Fundamentals squad starring Emoni and coached by E.J. can live up to the hype.

“They’ve been hearing a lot about him,” says Bernetta Kelly, watching her son’s Peoria Area Elite team take its shot.

Bates Fundamentals wins 95-44 and Kelly understands why. She approaches Emoni and asks for a photo with her son and his team.

“I’ve seen the best players from Pittsburgh to Vegas the last four years, and he’s been the best in his class,” Peoria coach Zach Martin says. “I told the guys, ‘There are not many times you will be able to say you played an NBA player, but you just did.'”

After another lopsided victory in the two-day tournament won easily by Bates Fundamentals, Emoni walks off the court. A younger competitor darts out of his team’s pregame layup line to slap his hand. Moments later, the excitement follows Emoni out the door.

“Hey, that’s him,” a young boy entering the facility says to teammates.

How does a 10-year-old from Fort Wayne, Indiana, know who Bates is?

“YouTube,” he says.

Duh.

The highlight reel posted last summer had nearly 1 million views before Emoni walked into the doors at Clague for the first time as an eighth-grader. Several other videos have racked up 500,000-plus views in less than one year.

By the spring of 2018, the suspense about where he plans to attend high school may be its own mini-drama. Then a few years later: Which college?

E.J. and Edith hardly need reminding that’s still a long way off. As good as the recruiting services have become at projecting stars, it’s easy to forget the object of all that attention is still just 13. At times, the recruiting experts simply miss.

“It’s always a crap shoot,” E.J. says. “You don’t know what life will deal you. You never know what can happen with injuries, the loss of motivation or pressure getting to be too much.”

Yet fans of two college basketball powers with the inside track can already start thinking about the fall of 2021, when Bates can officially sign a scholarship offer. In quiet moments, Emoni sometimes does, too.

Asked about his favorite programs, the soft-spoken kid doesn’t hesitate to name the early front-runners.

“Michigan State and Kentucky,” Emoni says.

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Follow the series: https://www.apnews.com/tag/TheKid

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Follow Larry Lage at http://twitter.com/larrylage

NCAA punishes Pacific men’s basketball for violations

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STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — The men’s basketball team at Pacific has been punished by the NCAA for academic and recruiting violations under former coach Ron Verlin.

The NCAA said Wednesday that Verlin failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance when he violated academic misconduct and recruiting rules to get prospects eligible. He also failed to monitor his coaches and violated NCAA ethics rules when he encouraged others to give false information during the investigation.

The baseball program was also cited because former coach Ed Sprague impermissibly provided an athletic training student with a $16,000 scholarship to help with the housing costs of two baseball student-athletes, including her brother.

Penalties for the school include two years of probation, recruiting and scholarship reductions, a $5,000 fine and a vacation of all games in which ineligible athletes participated.

Memphis lands commitment from 2018 center Connor Vanover

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Memphis picked up its first commitment in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night as unique center prospect Connor Vanover announced his decision on Twitter.

At 7-foot-2, Vanover brings elite size to the interior for the Tigers and he’s also skilled enough that he was a 43 percent three-point shooter during his stint playing with Pro Skills in the Nike EYBL this spring. Although Vanover needs to add strength and athleticism to adapt to the college level, he simply has size that you can’t teach. Pair that size with an intriguing perimeter jumper and it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Tubby Smith is able to develop Vanover the next few years.

A three-star prospect according to Rivals, Vanover averaged 9.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game during the spring. Originally from Arkansas, Vanover is spending his senior season of high school ball at prep school powerhouse Findlay Prep.