Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Three Takeaways from the Pangos All-American Camp

Leave a comment

CERRITOS, Ca. — The Pangos All-American Camp has become an elite summer kick-off camp over the years as founder Dinos Trigonis brings together many of the nation’s top players.

This year’s Southern California-based event featured an added wrinkle of intrigue as NBA scouts and personnel were allowed to check out the event for the first time. With a loaded lineup, and something important to play for, it made for a fun and competitive weekend of basketball.

Here’s three long-term takeaways from the Pangos All-American Camp.

1. The NBA scouts had a looming influence over the camp (in a positive way)

The most intriguing thing about this year’s Pangos All-American Camp was the NBA scouts and personnel in attendance throughout the event. Most NBA teams have stayed away from high school games since the one-and-done rule was put in place — with the exception of the spring senior All-Star game circuit like the McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit. Opening up Pangos to NBA teams — a move that surprised many in the basketball world — gave pro teams new opportunities to explore young American basketball talent that is coming through the pipeline.

Some NBA guys had no idea what hit them when they descended upon the much looser atmosphere at Pangos. Those aforementioned spring all-star games are smaller, more controlled atmospheres that often feature highly competitive games and scrimmages. They’re also filled with seniors who are about to proceed to college.

At Pangos, there were players from four different high school classes with some players only on the verge of graduating eighth grade. It’s a far different experience evaluating players who could be three to four years from being draft eligible.

But the NBA scouts in attendance was a good thing for the event. This year featured the most consistent level of intensity I’ve seen in the event over the last few years. The camp’s main all-star game actually felt, at times, like a real basketball game instead of a highlight-filled showcase. The players, particularly the older and more accomplished ones, felt the presence of the scouts as it was a positive learning experience for them.

Of course, there were still games and plenty of moments of bad basketball. That happens in any kind of high school event or camp. During one 50-point blowout, one NBA scout took out his laptop and started cutting up film. But that could just as easily happen in an apparel league or any other high school setting. NBA teams and their scouts are all going to react differently when dealing with this level of basketball.

With the NBA now looking to allow its teams to scout certain high school summer events, including the upcoming NBPA Top 100 Camp in mid-June, this could be the start of an emerging trend we see in summer basketball. The interesting thing will be how players and event operators continue to adapt as we see how this all works out in the end.

2. USC has a bright future thanks to the Mobleys

The future at USC looks bright as long as the Mobley brothers are involved.

Since hiring assistant coach Eric Mobley in March, the Trojans have already landed a commitment from his son, Class of 2019 four-star forward Isaiah Mobley. USC is also expected to, eventually, grab a commitment from Evan Mobley, a Class of 2020 big man with a five-star profile who also happens to be Eric Mobley’s son.

Both Mobley brothers were impressive at Pangos as the duo could potentially give USC one of the better frontcourts in the nation a few years from now.

The 6-foot-9 Isaiah will be entering school first as he’ll join Trojan big man commit Onyeka Okongwu to form the next Trojan frontcourt in 2019-2020. A skilled forward who can handle the ball in the open floor, pass and knock down some open perimeter jumpers, Isaiah will likely play the Bennie Boatwright role with Okongwu taking the Chimezie Metu spot.

Although Isaiah still needs to gain more consistency with his jumper while improving his decision-making, he has some intriguing point-forward capabilities as he showed an ability to push and make plays off of a defensive rebound.

Evan Mobley is the scarier prospect of the brothers, as he’s now trending towards a potential top-five recruit in the Class of 2020. Polished and skilled at 6-foot-11, Evan Mobley has the chance to compete for the No. 1 spot in that class with some added strength and skill. His play had people buzzing at Pangos from the time Evan took the floor on Friday night. A natural rebounder with soft touch and good quickness, Mobley has the upside to be a huge factor at the college level.

USC still needs to add some guards and wings in future classes to round them out, but adding Isaiah, and likely adding Evan, is a gigantic first step towards future success.

3. The Class of 2020 stole the show

While there were plenty of talented Class of 2019 players at the Pangos All-American Camp, it was the Class of 2020 that stole the show over the weekend.

Many of the top Class of 2019 prospects in the camp were often dwarfed by the elite rising juniors in the event. Evan Mobley was arguably the top long-term prospect in the camp this year while five-star guard and Georgia native Anthony Edwards had people buzzing as well.

The 6-foot-5 Edwards had the event’s biggest poster dunk while showing a natural ability to score at ease from all three levels. A plus athlete who is aggressive with the ball in his hands, Edwards was drawing top-10 national buzz from many of the scouts in attendance as he should become a priority recruit for blueblood programs by the end of summer.

A few other Class of 2020 prospects to stand out included 6-foot-7 Texas native Cade Cunningham, a steady and productive wing with a lot of polished moves getting to the rim. Scottie Barnes, a 6-foot-8 two-way wing, is already a known national top-five prospect as his versatility was on full display at Pangos. Not many camp players care about defense, but Barnes doesn’t have an “off” switch and plays with maximum intensity on nearly every possession.

The Class of 2018 and Class of 2019 national classes have been noticeably down in terms of star power and top-end prospects the past two years, but the Class of 2020 looks like a group that could bring a good amount of talent and star power to the college game in a few years.

North Carolina gets commitment from four-star 2020 forward

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

North Carolina has its first piece in its 2020 recruiting class.

Day’Ron Sharpe, a 6-foot-9 forward, committed to the Tar Heels on Sunday, according to multiple reports.

The Winterville, N.C. native picked Roy Williams’ in-state program over offers from Florida, Georgetown and Virginia, among others, after a second visit to Chapel Hill recently.

“We weren’t expecting it, and it kind of came out of the blue,” his father, Derrick Sharpe, told 247 Sports about the commitment. “He told coach Williams and coach was just really excited about it.”

Sharpe averaged 14.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game during his sophomore season.

“He’s a very multi-talented player,” Dwayne West, executive director of the Garner Road Bulldogs told the Raleigh News & Observer. “He does several things very well at a high rate. He can obviously score the ball around the basket, has a solid shot and is actually a very good playmaker. Handles the ball very well.”

Sharpe is a four-star, consensus top-75 player in the 2020 class. Williams also has one commit in the 2019 class, top-50 point guard Jeremiah Francis, who, like Sharpe, committed to the Tar Heels the summer before his junior season.

Former Western Michigan basketball player cleared of murder

Kalamazoo Courthouse
1 Comment

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A jury has acquitted a former Western Michigan basketball player of murder in the shooting death of a fellow student but convicted him of armed robbery and a weapons charge.

The Kalamazoo County jury deliberated two days before returning the verdict for Joeviair Kennedy. He faces a possible life sentence when he’s sentenced July 16.

Nineteen-year-old Jacob Jones was killed near the campus on Dec. 8, 2016.

Co-defendant Jordan Waire of Muskegon was convicted last month of felony murder, armed robbery and weapons charges.

Prosecutors said it was Waire who shot Jones. Kennedy has said they took marijuana and about $25.

Kennedy’s attorney, Eusebio Solis, said his client agreed to the robbery but not the killing.

Kennedy was arrested in 2016 at the start of his second basketball season.

Kansas, Missouri to play alumni game for charity

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kansas and Missouri are putting their differences aside for charity.

Kareem Rush, a former Missouri Tiger and the brother of Brandon Rush, a former Kansas Jayhawk, is organizing a game called “Rivarly Renewed“, which will pit alumni from Missouri against alumni from KU.

On July 28th, the two teams will face-off in a game where the proceeds will go towards benefitting the Boys and Girls Club as well as Kareem Rush’s “Rush Forward Foundation”.

It’s also a chance for the Tigers and the Jayhawks to reignite a rivalry that has been dormant since Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC, although they did play a scrimmage prior to the start of last season. There is no lack of hatred between those two fan bases and any chance they get to square off is a good thing.

There should also be some big names involved. According to the Kansas City Star, Mario Chalmers, Cole Aldrich, Drew Gooden, Kim English, Ricky Paulding and Marcus Denmon are among the players that will be participating.

I love it.

Can we make sure that Bill Self is invited so that he can get convinced to play the Tigers in a non-conference game?

Doppelgangers Grayson Allen, Ted Cruz finally meet

Duke athletics
Leave a comment

Ever since Grayson Allen burst onto the national scene during the 2015 Final Four, the former Duke star has been called a Ted Cruz lookalike.

That, frankly, is not exactly a compliment, and it is a comparison that Allen initially bristled at, but now that his college career, Allen seems to be embracing the long-running joke.

We know that because Allen met Cruz this weekend as he helped the senator from Texas beat Jimmy Kimmel in a game of one-on-one:

The actually game won’t be broadcast until Monday night so we won’t know exactly how Cruz won or what Allen did to help, but Cruz did beat Kimmel 11-9.

We will get getting our answers this evening.

2018 NBA Draft: What top ten picks are the most likely to be busts?

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
1 Comment

The 2018 NBA Draft is loaded with top-end talent and potential future all-stars.

The fascinating thing about this group in the top ten is that you can make a solid case that most of these guys could become stars.

On the flipside, all of them also have some kind of glaring weakness.

Deandre Ayton is likely going No. 1 overall and there is a healthy contingent of draft analysts and skeptics who point to his lack of defensive presence as a 7-footer.

Some of these same detractors also believe the NBA is continually going smaller — meaning giants like Ayton will get played off the floor by certain small-ball lineups like the Golden State Warriors just did to some teams during another title run.

That’s just one example.

Going down the list of top-ten prospects and you can point to a lot of potential flaws that could lead to downfalls. But here are two top-ten prospects who could wind up being busts.

MICHAEL PORTER JR.

Before his freshman season at Missouri, I thought Michael Porter Jr. was going to put up monster numbers and be a Player of the Year candidate. His top-five status in the 2018 NBA Draft appeared to be safe. After a decorated high school career in which he destroyed most challengers and played well on the international stage with USA Basketball, Porter looked like he could be a jumbo scoring wing at the game’s highest level.

Then the back and hip issues began.

Porter only played in three games during his lone season with the Tigers — including two uninspiring postseason efforts in which he couldn’t get his shot to fall while trying to prove that he was healthy. And now it feels like there are a million questions about MPJ and his health.

During the NBA Draft process, Porter has cancelled and rescheduled pro days, kept medical records private for long lengths of time and given plenty of teams pause as to whether or not he is truly healthy. If Porter’s back and hip stay as a lingering issue then it changes who he is as a basketball player. Already a bit rigid, with hips that aren’t particularly fluid, Porter could have trouble moving laterally in an increasingly quick and nimble league that is only getting smaller.

Porter’s jumper also uses his whole body to elevate. It didn’t look nearly the same during those March games where he tried to gut it out. And Porter has been such a gifted scorer during his high school career that he’s never had to worry about passing or making others around him better.

Some have also questioned Porter’s ego and his ability to be a willing teammate — which are legitimate questions in a league that often sees its stars feud with others and move on to new teams.

Again, if Porter is fully healthy and ready to go, he could be a double-double threat on the wing and a 20-point per game scorer. But if Porter isn’t healthy? Some team is taking a big risk on not only taking an injured player but passing on a talented healthy player who could morph into an all-star.

(John Weast/Getty Images)

TRAE YOUNG

Perhaps the most fascinating prospect in the draft because of his insane range and overall offensive ability, Young is going to be one of the names to watch on draft night.

Some mock drafts feel he’s a top-three talent, or even the best prospect overall because of his new-age ability to pull-up and hit threes from 30 feet away. Others feel like he’s a potential defensive liability who doesn’t necessarily play winning basketball all the time because of his shot selection and high number of turnovers.

While Young could be a monster steal for some team hoping to get the next Steph Curry, those comparisons are also going to be dangerous, while likely following Young the rest of this career.

For Young, it could be all about fit and who winds up taking him.

When Young was in high school, he was at his best when he had elite talent around him. Michael Porter Jr. was the go-to scorer on a MoKan team that won the Nike Peach Jam. Young also looked solid during stretches with USA Basketball when he had tons of weapons around him.

Once teams in the Big 12 figured out his individual offensive tendencies after a hot start last season, they forced him into being a playmaker and the Sooners struggled to win games. Of course, the lack of talent around him doesn’t fall on Young, who didn’t recruit his teammates at Oklahoma. But what happens if Young falls to a dysfunctional franchise like the Orlando Magic? He’ll be expected to be a savior right away with minimal help — while also having to overcome glaring deficiencies like perimeter defense and a high number of turnovers.

And how do you think NBA players are going to react to the task of guarding Young? There’s an old Dream Team story about Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen practically fighting so they could defend future Chicago Bulls teammate Toni Kukoc one-on-one during the ’92 Olympics. They had heard about the hype surrounding Kukoc, even though he had never played in an NBA game.

After being a national media darling much of last season, Young is going to get a lot of strong one-on-one defenders who are hungry to slow him down. Game plans will revolve around limiting Young’s touches and ability to launch shots. Teams and veteran players are going to do everything they can to frustrate Young and make life tough.

Young is talented and skilled enough to make all of these questions go away. He’s a unique talent who could very well end up being worthy of all of the hype. But he’s going to need some help reaching his full potential, and some of those things are out of his control.