Pangos All-American camp full of future college players

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The list of former Most Outstanding Player selections from the Pangos All-American camp in Long Beach, California is a laundry list of current and future college basketball stars and NBA players. James Harden, Brandon Jennings, John Wall, Harrison Barnes, Myck Kabongo and Shabazz Muhammad are among the names of the former stars, when they were in high school, from the camp.

The Pangos All-American camp is annually one of the top non-shoe company affiliated camps, and draws talented high school basketball players from across the country, and especially from the west coast. The organizer, Dinos Trigonis, runs the Belmont Shore grassroots basketball team and is one of the top grassroots basketball event promoters in the country. This year’s camp was loaded with a variety of talent, and took place over the weekend at Cabrillo High School.

The first takeway from this weekend’s camp, the tenth annual, was that 6-9 center Cliff Alexander, a Chicago-based 2014 player from Curie High School, can be added to the aforementioned prestigious group of camp alumni. The bullish, athletic and tough big man evoked memories of Elton Brand as he earned the title of the Most Outstanding Player in a camp that included literally dozens of future high-major college basketball players. Alexander has a strong, thick frame, and patrolled the paint with authority. He’s arguably a top-5 prospect in the 2014 class nationally and has a nasty streak that was hard to battle against for opponents.

Alexander wasn’t the only star in the camp, though, as Louisiana high school forward Jarrell Martin, a 2013 player, turned plenty of heads and was arguably just as good as Alexander. He is a heavy priority for LSU’s new coaching staff to land in order to turn their fortunes around, but they’ll have numerous competitors. The 6-9 forward showed the ability to handle the ball, hit plenty of 3-pointers, and showed athleticism and length that cannot be taught. On the break, Martin could not be stopped. At his size and with the ability to play small forward on the next level, Martin has a rare combination and skill set.

Two current high-major verbal commitments, 6-1 point guard Conner Frankamp (Kansas) and 6-3 shooting guard Anton Gill (Louisville) were selected to the Top-30 game that concluded the camp. Both have one season left of high school basketball, but starred all weekend long during the event. Frankamp is a heady, fundamental guard that showcased his automatic trigger from 3-point range. Likewise, Gill showcased a scorer’s DNA and continually put up points in a variety of ways. Both could be ready to contribute as freshmen.

It’s also safe to say that Harvard commit Zena Edosomwan, a 6-8 power forward headed to prep school, will be ready to play in the Ivy League. He’s so strong and controls action in the paint. He’s physically ready to play college basketball next season, and a year playing prep school basketball should help his skill level grow. Make no mistake, Edosomwan is a top-100 player in the country, and a huge future player at Harvard.

Several other players committed to D-1 schools turned some many heads of scouts and recruiting analysts at the camp. 6-4 point guard Billy Garrett showed why he’s going to be a key player for DePaul in the future with his heady influence in the backcourt. Also, a pair of guards already committed to Penn State, Brandon Austin and Geno Thorpe, were among the better backcourt players in the camp. They’ll help early for the Nittany Lions. The same can be said for point guard Julian Jacobs, who will be ready to hit the ground running when he arrives at Utah after next season.

Recent Georgetown pledge Stephen Domingo also showed why he’ll be perfect for the Hoyas system. He was a deadly sniper from long range, good passer and has a high all-around skill level. Also, UNLV appears to be amassing a core group of terrific post players. 6-8 power forward Chris Wood is already pledged, and he had a great camp.

Several uncommitted players from the 2013 high school graduating class were also impressive. 6-9 center Karviar Shepherd of Texas, 6-9 forward Johnathan Williams of Tennessee, 6-9 forward Jermaine Lawrence of New York, 6-7 forward Vince Hunter of Michigan, 6-1 point guard Solomon Poole of Florida, 6-3 guard Zach LaVine of Washington all had outstanding moments and were among the most talented players in the camp.

Another storyline that college basketball fans haven’t heard the last of involves 6-8 forward Ben Simmons, a 2015 prospect from Melbourne, Australia. It remains to be seen just when Simmons will play hoops in the United States, but it does seem like an eventuality. The smooth and athletic forward would be a top-10 prospect in the United States, and is a member of Australia’s U17 team. Simmons remains a name to file in the back of your mind for the future.

Though college coaches could not attend for evaluation due to NCAA rules, the Pangos All-American camp was a success. Over 100 players tested their talents against each other, and in some cases determined what they need to work on to perform better in front of the coaches in July. The Long Beach setting was ideal for some of the nation’s top talent to converge upon, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.