Pangos All-American Camp Friday: UCLA commit Lonzo Ball has a great opening night

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LONG BEACH, Ca. – The opening night of play at camps like the annual Pangos All-American Camp is usually sloppy and littered with uninspired basketball.

Between camp teammates barely having a chance to learn each other’s names — let alone complicated sets — and also experiencing travel lag from making the camp, it isn’t necessarily the best time to see a prospect play a complete game of basketball.

UCLA commit Lonzo Ball changed that notion with his play on the opening night of the 12th annual Pangos camp on Friday night.

In a highly-touted matchup of 2016 five-star guards between Ball and Findlay Prep point guard Derryck Thornton, Ball was clearly the better player on Friday night, although the two have dramatically different games.

Ball is just a complete basketball player with a tremendous feel for the game and IQ. At 6-foot-5, Ball is the No. 14 player in Rivals.com‘s 2016 rankings and he has great size with the ball in his hands and the future Bruin is a tremendous passer in delivering to shooters or finding a big man in the post. Ball might be slow-footed defensively to guard quicker lead guards, but his hands and instincts are good enough to still make some plays in the passing lanes against wings that play more off-the-ball.

The 6-foot-1 Thornton is the No. 20 prospect in those same rankings and he has a lot of tools to work with, including a killer first step and crossover. But Thornton spends far too much time pounding the ball into the floor while trying to hunt for his own offense.

While Ball just played basketball and let the game come to him, Thornton instead seemed focused on the one-on-one matchup and it showed with some bad shots and overaggressive drives to the hoop.

Isaiah Briscoe battles Tyler Dorsey: While the Ball vs. Thornton matchup was the undercard of Friday night’s action, thanks in-part to it’s earlier slotting, the main matchup on the opening night featured a pair of high-level guard prospects in the 2015 class as Isaiah Briscoe matched up with Arizona commit Tyler Dorsey.

Briscoe and Dorsey spent a good portion of the game on each other and it made for some interesting basketball in the second game on Friday night. Much like the first matchup of elite guards, both Briscoe and Dorsey got a little too consumed with hunting their own offense, but they both made scoring plays and plays as passers and you can’t fault the clear best players on the floor for wanting to take the majority of the shots.

The slight edge probably goes to the 6-foot-3 Briscoe because he is more effective against physical play and he’s a much better passer — specifically moving the ball up the floor on the break. Dorsey is a better athlete, however, and has more upside getting in the lane and making plays around the rim thanks to his 6-foot-4 size and leaping ability.

Old Dominion lands former four-star center

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Elbert Robinson came out of high school in 2014 as a borderline top-50 recruit with offers from the likes of Florida, Kansas and Louisville before he ultimately chose to attend LSU.

The 7-foot-1 center, though, never even averaged 10 minutes a game in Baton Rouge and now will be finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, according to multiple reports.

“Old Dominion was perfect for him,” Lawrence Johns, Robinson’s grassroots coach, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I know for a fact that nobody in (Conference USA) is over 7 feet.

“I told him to go there and show people why he was the No. 1 center the year he came out.”

Robinson, who sat out last year for medical reasons, could step right into a major role with the Monarchs, who lost their starting frontcourt this offseason. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game last year for the Tigers.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

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Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

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With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.