Scott Kurtz

Five observations from the Pangos All-American Camp

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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.

No. 23 Furman tops Charleston Southern 77-69, stays unbeaten

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — No. 23 Furman took another step in its remarkable early-season journey, one coach Bob Richey expects will benefit his team the rest of the way.

The perfect Paladins (11-0) used a late run to pull away from Charleston Southern for a 77-69 victory Tuesday night in their first-ever home game as a Top 25 team.

Richey felt the jitters of his young team before the game, the desire to show the home crowd their rise was legitimate.

“The fear of if we lose, does all this go away,” Richey said. “And I think that’s normal for a young player — ‘Man, we want to keep this going.'”

Noah Gurley scored 17 points, and Alex Hunter and Andrew Brown had 16 points apiece to lead Furman in a game where leading scorer Jordan Lyons had zero points.

“We’ve got to continue to keep our pulse on these players,” Richey said. “We’ve got to continue to help them out.”

So far, so good.

The Paladins have been one of college basketball’s biggest surprises with their school-record run to start the season — a stretch that included defeating defending national champs Villanova and a second Final Four team from last year in Loyola-Chicago.

It took a late charge to break away from the Buccaneers (4-5).

Charleston Southern trailed 54-52 on Dontrell Shuler’s layup with less than 10 minutes left. After that, the Paladins went on a 14-4 run. Tre Clark had four points during the surge and when Gurley nailed a 3-pointer with 5:51 to go, Furman was up 68-56.

Charleston Southern could not respond and college basketball’s feel-good story of the season remained on track.

Lyons, averaging 20.2 points a game, missed all seven of his shots.

Matt Rafferty had 14 points and 14 rebounds for Furman.

“We’ve got to stay even-keeled,” Hunter said. “That’s something we’ve been practicing every day.”

Deontaye Buskey and Duncan LeXander had 13 points each for Charleston Southern.

Buccaneers coach Barclay Radebaugh said his team made too many mistakes to hang in at the end.

“You can’t do that against a team like Furman,” he said.

Furman, which joined the AP Top 25 last week for the first time in school history, had to wait another week — and make it through road wins at Elon and South Carolina Upstate — before it could celebrate its achievement on its home court. And it looked like the Paladins would have plenty to cheer about after they used a 17-8 run midway through the opening period to build a 26-18 lead.

But Furman went cold after that, missing seven straight shots as the Buccaneers of the Big South Conference tightened things up.

BIG PICTURE

Charleston Southern: The Buccaneers are nearing the end of a brutal opening stretch with seven of their first 11 games on the road. Those have included losses at Florida, Middle Tennessee and Marquette. Charleston Southern’s run ends with games at North Florida and Clemson in the next week. Radebaugh hopes the time away from home toughens the Bucs for Big South play.

Furman: The Paladins looked edgy in their first home appearance as a ranked team. They looked ready to take charge with a 51-42 lead before helping Charleston Southern’s comeback with four straight turnovers. Furman probably won’t win many games where Lyons struggles as he did against the Bucs.

STREAKING PALADINS

Furman is off to its most consecutive wins since winning 11 in a row in 1979. That’s back when the Paladins were one of the Palmetto State’s most successful teams, going to six NCAA Tournaments between 1971 and 1980. Furman has not played in the tournament since then.

RICHEY’S START

Richey was grateful to Radebaugh, who hired Richey as a 23-year-old and gradually gave him control of the Bucs’ offense. “Without Barclay, I wouldn’t be here today,” Richey said.

UP NEXT

Charleston Southern is at North Florida on Saturday.

Furman finishes a two-game homestand by hosting UNC Wilmington on Saturday.

Penn ends No. 17 Villanova’s 25-game Big 5 winning streak with 78-75 victory

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Villanova’s 25-game Big 5 winning streak is over.

The 17th-ranked Wildcats fell to Penn, 78-75, at the Palestra on Tuesday to see its undefeated run among its Philadelphia counterparts come to an end after six years.

It’s also an end to the six-game winning streak coach Jay Wright’s team has enjoyed since losing back-to-back games to Michigan and Furman last month.

Issues persisted on the defensive end for the Wildcats as they fell on a night they shot 50 percent from the floor and 34.6 percent from 3-point range. The Quakers bested that by converting 51.1 percent of their shots overall and 43.8 percent of their 16 attempts from distance.

Villanova had put some distance between itself and the shellacking it took courtesy of Michigan and the OT lost to Furman, but it continues to be clear that while still a top-25 caliber team, Wright’s squad this year looks to be well short of the teams that celebrated national championships in 2016 and 2018. Eric Paschall was expected to step into the void from losing so many players to the NBA off last year’s title-winner, but he took just five shots against Penn and has been generally inconsistent all season. Five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly can’t even got on the floor. That leaves Collin Gillespie and Phil Booth, who combined for 39 points Tuesday, carrying a bigger burden than would be ideal.

The Wildcats are likely ultimately going to be fine – they lost to a good team Tuesday – but unless they can get more from especially Paschall it’s hard to see them elevating themselves to a Final Four contender.

That’s the weight of expectation after two titles in three years.

We knew the Big East championship wasn’t going to be Villanova’s to simply waltz to, but the top-half of the league continues to look incredibly tightly grouped together without mich separation.

Penn, meanwhile, looks a real threat in the Ivy, as was evident in the Quakers’ win over Miami last week. The win over Villanova only solidifies their status.

AJ Brodeur and Antonio Woods both scored 16 points against the ‘Cats as Penn led by as many as 12 points on the night, but still had to survive a Booth attempt from 3 at the buzzer to finally end Villanova’s supremacy over Big 5 hoops.

Iowa State could get Lindell Wigginton and Solomon Young back this weekend

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It’s been sort of a bizarre start to the season for Iowa State. For starters, the Cyclones enter the season not coming off an NCAA tournament appearance for the first time since 2011 after a 14-18 campaign last season snapped a program-record six-straight tourney streak. Coach Steve Prohm then suspended two players, including preseason all-Big 12 honorable mention center Cameron Lard, for the month of November for rules violations. The Cyclones also lost starting big man Solomon Young to a groin injury and then star guard Lindell Wigginton to a sprained foot.

Despite all that, Iowa State started the season 7-1 (including two wins at the Maui Invitational) before a loss at rival Iowa last week.

Now with an 8-2 record and having not only survived November but largely thrived with a reduced roster, the Cyclones are nearing full strength.

Wigginton, who averaged 17 points and shot 40 percent from 3 as a freshman, and Young, a two-year starter, could return as soon as Saturday and almost assuredly before the Cyclones’ Big 12 opener against Oklahoma State on Jan. 2.

“It’s where we thought it would be the whole time,” Prohm said of the duo’s timeline Monday, according to the Ames Tribune. “When we do halfcourt live segments Wednesday, if everything stays status quo the way it is right now, they’ll be able to go in the halfcourt.

“Not up and down, but they’ll go live contact in the halfcourt, and then evaluate them from there. Whether they suit up or not on Saturday, I couldn’t give you an answer on that right now.”

Prohm said both players could be in uniform against Drake on Saturday, but would not necessarily be available for big minutes, if at all. Wigginton, who went through the NBA pre-draft process last spring before announcing his return the day of the NCAA deadline, is expected to nearly immediately return to a major role.

Young, though, will be an interesting case. The Cyclones’ frontcourt is a crowded one with Prohm seemingly committed to playing four guards extensively and current starter Michael Jacobson, a Nebraska transfer, averaging a surprising 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 62.4 percent from the floor. With Jacobson, Lard and Young all soon available, Prohm will have a juggling act for minutes or reconfigure his lineup to play big, with the former seeming more likely than the latter.

Mark Few: NCAA prez Mark Emmert ‘needs to step up and be a leader and make some quicker decisions’

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Count Mark Few as one looking for the NCAA to shorten its timeline when it comes to potential discipline for schools ensnared by the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball.

The Gonzaga coach is also calling out NCAA president Mark Emmert by name in his plea to speed things along and make teams who may have violated NCAA rules accountable.

“I’m disappointed. I don’t think this is something the NCAA needs to take their time on,” Few said, according to Yahoo Sports. “There’s teams out here who are competing for Final Fours and national championships and they don’t need to stall this thing out.

“They need to make decisions and roll with it. I think that’s on Emmert. Emmert needs to step up and be a leader and make some quicker decisions.”

Emmert said last week that schools who were implicated by the FBI’s investigation, including by information that was made public in October’s court proceedings that involved three guilty verdicts, would not face potential punishment until after this season with the NCAA investigation extending beyond the Final Four.

New NCAA rules allow it to use testimony and evidence presented in those trials, but how the NCAA will apply those rules – will it simply accept anything mentioned under oath? – remains unclear. The NCAA, though, has committed to handle things methodically, as it so often does to the frustration of many a coach. It’s not exactly surprising, though, that the NCAA is in no hurry to drop sanctions on prominent schools – programs like Kansas, Auburn, Creighton, LSU, Louisville and Miami – in the middle of a season. Such a move would dominate discussion of the sport and upend seasons in an unprecedented manner. Intraseason discipline, especially something like a postseason ban, against some of the country’s top programs would be almost guaranteed to invite ugly legal challenges.

It’s not exactly a courageous rationale, but it is pragmatic. It also is the least likely to affect the bottom line, which is usually the best spot to place your bet when trying to determine the NCAA’s course of action.

Providence guard to miss at least a month with foot injury

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Rough news for Providence on Tuesday morning, as the school announced that freshman guard A.J. Reeves will miss the next four-to-six weeks with an unspecified foot injury.

Reeves, a native of Roxbury, Ma., has averaged 14.2 points this season while shooting 45 percent from three. He’s been the best freshman in the Big East and one of the best weapons for a talented Friar team that has yet to truly figure themselves out.

“It’s unfortunate that A.J. has to go through this as he has been having a very productive start to his college career,” head coach Ed Cooley said. “However, he is a great person and will use this time to get better and he will continue to support the team.”