Five observations from the Pangos All-American Camp

Scott Kurtz
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NORWALK, Ca. — The Pangos All-American Camp is one of the most fun events in grassroots basketball because of its old-school approach to certain things. The camp brings together tons of national prospects — regardless of shoe-company affiliation — and the event is littered with a lot of fun head-to-head matchups.

Always coming the weekend after Memorial Day, the 14th annual Pangos All-American Camp had the most talent the event has ever seen as more than a dozen five-star prospects took the floor for a lot of run-and-gun camp basketball. As most camps tend to go, the ball isn’t exactly crisp at times, but it’s still a nice indicator of where a lot of players stand heading into July.

1. DeAndre Ayton is great but what kind of player will he turn into?

DeAndre Ayton has the tools to be an elite, elite center. Like, we’re talking once or twice in a decade type of athleticism out of a player his size. Just watch this tip slam from Pangos on Friday night and you’ll see what I mean.

The 7-foot Ayton has the kind of quick lift off the floor you seldom see in a big man, but there are some questions as to what type of player he will be (or wants to be) at the next level. Ayton has publicly stated that he wants to try to play a bit on the wing before, but that doesn’t seem realistic given his athletic gifts for his size. No coach is going to let a dude that big and athletic not play near the basket for a good chunk of time.

There are also some questions about Ayton’s ability to protect the rim at an elite level.

Ayton hasn’t shown much interest in being a shot blocker. He’s the type of big man who will happily switch onto a smaller perimeter player (and he usually can with his lateral quickness), but he’s not one for absorbing blows at the rim and re-directing shots as some sort of menacing rim protector. With the way basketball is beginning to embrace switching one through five on defense, Ayton could be some sort of defensive freak who can stay with a lot of guys on the perimeter, but that would also depend on a coach using that style of play and having the right personnel around Ayton to make that possible.

Either way, Ayton’s continued development is going to be a ton of fun to watch. He’s currently the No. 1 player in a very solid class and he’ll definitely be pushed for that spot if he wants to hold onto it.

2. Michael Porter Jr. continues to get better (and push for No. 1)

One of the Class of 2017 prospects sitting right behind Ayton in the national rankings is Michael Porter Jr., a jumbo wing with an ever-improving all-around game.

The 6-foot-9 Porter can score from multiple levels of the floor with a smooth jumper and he’s also improved his toughness over the years to become an effective rebounder in traffic. Porter was the only player in the Nike EYBL this spring to finish in the top five in both points and rebounds per game.

If Porter continues that kind of production and shows that his perimeter skill is getting more consistent, then he’ll push for the top spot in the 2017 class because it’s so difficult to find wings with his size, skill level and athleticism.

With Michael Porter Sr. taking a men’s assistant coaching spot on Lorenzo Romar’s staff at Washington the writing on the wall would appear that Porter Jr. is going to eventually be a Husky. If Washington gets that one done, you’d have to argue that they’re adapting to the one-and-done culture as well as any program in the country with their last few recruiting classes.

3. Trevon Duval is a consistent jumper away from being impossible to cover

In the Class of 2017, 6-foot-3 point guard Trevon Duval has firmly established himself as the leader when it comes to point guards. With freakish athleticism and ridiculous ball-handling ability, Duval is the type of guard who gets anywhere he wants on the floor whenever he wants. Duval is impossible to keep out of the lane and he’s a contortionist at the rim if he needs to finish in traffic.

Because he has the ball on a string, Duval can make dribble moves others only pull off in 2K and he’s able to rifle some absurd one-handed passes with either hand off of those moves.

The next step for Duval is a consistent jumper. Duval’s jumper is workable and it will go down at times, but there are also stretches where he can go cold. My theory is that he’s still understanding the pure speed of his game, and once things slow down for him, then pull-up jumpers will become easier for him. A lot of Duval’s jumpers are usually taken when he’s on the move, so if he can get more consistent and score off jumpers while stopping on a dime, then it’s going to be impossible to guard him with only one player.

4. The Class of 2019 has some promising players led by Charles Bassey

One of the nice things about the Pangos All-American Camp is that it’s a chance for a lot of younger prospects to play against older competition and get their feet wet on the national stage.

The class of soon-to-be sophomores already has some very strong prospects, led at the top by big man Charles Bassey. Originally from Nigeria and playing his high school ball in San Antonio, Bassey is pushing 6-foot-10 and moves well for a young big man.

And his skill level is very intriguing.

Because he owns a great set of hands, Bassey can corral passes that other big men can’t catch and he also showed some strong court awareness on some difficult touch passes. When DeAndre Ayton went head-to-head against Bassey in a Saturday morning game, the young big man didn’t back down one bit from facing potentially the top player in the country. There is still a ton of time left for this group, but Bassey appears to be a serious contender for the No. 1 spot in a few years if he continues to develop.

Some other promising Class of 2019 prospects at Pangos included 6-foot-2 point guard Cole Anthony (the son of Greg Anthony) and 6-foot-5 shooting guard Cassius Stanley. Both Anthony and Stanley already play above the rim and show the kind of skill and athleticism that could make them five-star prospects with continued development.

5. Events like this are still important

One of the great things about the Pangos All-American Camp is that it brings players together who don’t normally play against each other on the grassroots circuit. With players from adidas, Under Armour, Nike and independent teams, it makes for some awesome head-to-head matchups.

And camp founder Dinos Trigonis makes sure to give the people what they want in terms of marquee head-to-head matchups.

Elite point guards like Trevon Duval, Jaylen Hands, Quade Green and Trae Young got to play against each other. Five-star shooting guards Hamidou Diallo and Gary Trent Jr. matched up for one game. Although they don’t play the same position, one game had DeAndre Ayton’s team playing Michael Porter’s squad. Porter also got to face another talented five-star forward in Billy Preston. It seemed like every session of play had monster matchups that were fun to gauge in terms of where certain guys stack up with other elite prospects.

Obviously, in a camp like this, the games can devolve into street-ball like atmospheres but most of the five-star guys embraced the opportunity to play other top players. There are a lot of very competitive guys in the Class of 2017 and that’s never a bad thing.