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Three Takeaways from the Pangos All-American Camp

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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.

Tennessee beats Duke to commitment for five-star prospect

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Tennessee’s Rick Barnes is up to his old recruiting tricks.

The man that brought the likes of Kevin Durant and T.J. Ford to Texas, the coach that is currently the reigning SEC regular season championship, has gotten things going in the Class of 2019 as five-star guard Josiah James committed to Tennessee on Wednesday.

James picked the Vols over Clemson and Duke. He visited Tennessee the first weekend of September and took a trip to Clemson last weekend before cancelling his visit to Duke and announcing his commitment.

A top 15 prospect in the Class of 2019, James is a 6-foot-6 left-handed combo-guard. He’s more of a smooth athlete than he is super-explosive, but he has a strong frame that can absorb contact, the vision to create for teammates and the tools to be a switchable and versatile defensive piece. He needs to get more skilled — he’s not a great shooter, and while he is a good passer and creator, his handle could stand to get better if he truly wants to be a lead guard — but the potential is there for James to blossom into a first round pick one day.

James is the third commitment for Tennessee in the Class of 2019, joining a pair of three-star forwards in Drew Pember and Davonte Gaines.

This has been an incredible 12-month stretch for Barnes.

In his third season as the head coach of Tennessee, he took the Vols to a share of the SEC regular season title with a team that didn’t have a single player on the roster that was a top 100 prospect in high school. Everyone of significance from that team returned to the program, meaning that Barnes now has a preseason top 10 team heading into the 2018-19 season.

And now he’s beating out the likes of Duke and Michigan State for a five-star, potential one-and-done player?

Impressive.

Washington lands second 2019 verbal commitment

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With three of its four seniors heading into the 2018-19 season being perimeter players, Washington has some holes to address in its 2019 recruiting class. Thus far Mike Hopkins and his staff have done just that, with both of the program’s commits to date being perimeter players.

The second verbal commitment was received Tuesday afternoon, as three-star combo guard Marcus Tsohonis announced that he will be a Husky. Tsohonis, a Jefferson HS (Portland, Oregon) product who played his grassroots basketball for Seattle Rotary Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit, joins four-star wing RaeQuan Battle in Washington’s 2019 class to date.

The 6-foot-4 Tsohonis, who can play on or off the ball, held offers from multiple Pac-12 programs but ultimately made the decision to make the trek north from Portland to Seattle for his collegiate career. His verbal commitment comes on the heels of an official visit to Washington that was taken this past weekend.

As noted above Washington will loose some key contributors on the perimeter after the upcoming season, with David Crisp, Mathysse Thybulle and Dominic Green all entering their final season of eligibility (big man Noah Dickerson is also a senior). The additions of Tsohonis and Battle should help Washington when it comes to filling those holes and continuing to build upon the foundation laid during Hopkins’ first season at the helm.

Four-star guard becomes LSU’s first 2019 commit

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Expected to be a factor both within the SEC and nationally this season, these are good times for the LSU men’s basketball program. Head coach Will Wade and his staff received more good news Tuesday, as 6-foot-2 combo guard James Bishop (Baltimore, Maryland/Mount St. Joseph HS) announced that he will be a Tiger next season.

Bishop, considered to be one of the top scoring guards in the class, is LSU’s first 2019 verbal commitment. Bishop’s pledge comes just over a week after his official visit to LSU, and just days after a visit to St. John’s. LSU beat out St. John’s, NC State, Marquette and VCU in the race for the Baltimore product, and given the Tigers’ current roster this is an important commitment.

LSU’s 2018 recruiting class is considered to be one of the nation’s best, with point guard Javonte Smart being one of the five-star prospects in that quintet (forwards Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams being the others). Add in sophomore Tremont Waters, who’s coming off of an outstanding freshman season, and LSU could be in a position next summer where its top two lead guards are at the very least testing the NBA draft waters.

Landing Bishop gives LSU another talented option, and some cover should the program lose either Waters or Smart — or both — in 2019.

Calhoun officially named head coach at DIII St. Joseph

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WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Jim Calhoun has officially been named the head coach at Division III University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut.

The Hall of Famer had already announced he would be taking the job and has been working for a year to establish a men’s basketball program at the small Catholic university, which was an all-women’s school until this school year.

Calhoun also has continued to serve in an advisory role at UConn, where he served as coach for 26 seasons and led the Huskies to three of their four national titles before retiring in 2012.

The 76-year-old will return to the sidelines with a career record of 873-380 when the Blue Jays open the season on Nov. 9 against William Paterson University.

That game will be played at Trinity College in Hartford, which has a gym that seats about 2,200 people, about 1,000 more than the gymnasium at Saint Joseph.

Oregon State announces addition of transfer Payton Dastrup

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Tuesday afternoon Oregon State announced that former BYU power forward Payton Dastrup has joined the program as a transfer. Dastrup, who averaged 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in just under eight minutes per game last season, has two seasons of eligibility remaining. Oregon State will file a waiver on his behalf in hopes that Dastrup will be granted immediate eligibility.

Should the waiver request be denied, Dastrup will not be eligible to play until the 2019-20 season. For Oregon State’s sake, even with Dastrup’s career numbers he would fill a need for a team that bid farewell to its best big man during the spring.

Drew Eubanks’ decision to turn pro left a noticeable hole in Oregon State’s interior rotation, with senior Gligorije Rakocevic and junior Ben Kone being the most experienced returnees. Those two combined to average 3.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 2017-18, with Rakocevic averaging 10.6 minutes per game in 27 appearances off the bench.

In addition to those two the Beavers add three scholarship newcomers to the mix this season in junior college transfer Kylor Kelley and freshmen Warren Washington and Jack Wilson. Dastrup has the ability to step away from the basket, which would give Oregon State a little versatility in the interior to go along with a perimeter/wing rotation led by Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr. and Ethan Thompson.