NORWALK, Calif. – Score another one for the Pangos All-American Camp. Whenever in doubt, this independent elite camp seems to get it.
And all-everything camp director Dinos Trigonis does that on a shoestring. Whereas the large shoe companies have million-dollar budget to do business, Pangos does it through relationships and recommendations. Trigonis, the affable and well-connected event operator from southern California, is besieged with calls nationwide leading up to the annual event.
In 2016, the Pangos All-American may have hit a high-water mark with a collection of tongue wagging talent, but last weekend the talent pool was deep with players looking to make a name and gain separation in the national ratings. Injuries, commitments, final examinations and USA U16 National Team camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., contributed to camp’s final roster of more than 120 prospects, mostly from the West Coast and specifically southern California.
When one door closes another opens for precocious kid hoping the catch the eye of a national analyst, who will disseminate the information for college recruiters at all levels.
Here are five observations from Cerritos College’s Spartan Gymnasium.
• Best of the best by position includes: 1-Cole Anthony; 2-Anferne Simons; 3-Jules Bernard; 4-Charles Bassey and 5-Kofi Cockburn. That’s a heckuva starting five. Rounding out my eight-man rotation would be F-Donatas Kupsas, C/F-Reggie Perry and G-Luther Muhammad. Jeff Merritt would be the coach of that group. He led the Stanford team at Pangos Camp, guidingg some of the most gifted players while imparting knowledge. He’s coached at national programs La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.) and Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.). Merritt is an elite college coach in waiting. He will only add to and help elevate the program in which he eventually lands. Pangos is all-in when it comes to quality coaching.
• Three players that stood out for presenting the intangibles—Michael Wang, 6-9, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.); Kaden Archie, 6-7, Midlothian (Texas) and Nick Honor, 5-10, Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.). The common thread is hard work, hustle and selfless play (a.k.a. winners).
• New York had a strong showing. The six of the top-10 returning players from the famed New York Catholic High School Athletic Association were here, featuring 6-2 Cole Anthony, 6-7 Khalid Moore and 7-1 Moses Brown all from Archbishop Molloy (Briarwood, N.Y.); 6-10 Kofi Cockburn of Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.); 5-11 Joe Toussaint of St. Raymond (Bronx, N.Y.) and 6-5 Bryce Willis of Iona Prep (New Rochelle, N.Y.).
• One of the more intriguing players was a Charlie Wadler of Brentwood School (Los Angeles). The 5-foot-10 rising senior is a point guard who plays within his means. That’s because he possesses a basketball IQ and a killer 3-point stroke. At first it appears a bit unorthodox but the shot goes in with regularity. He’s an honor-roll student who has interest from Brown and high academic Division III programs. Wadler is worth monitoring.
• Marvin Bagley III was the best player in the building but did not play. He was there to support the camp and see many of his friends from the national circuit play. Bagley is a rising senior power forward from nearby Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth.
Top 30 Players
The Pangos’ standout players are listed by height, high school, city, state and year in school.
Devon Dotson, 6-2, Providence Day (Charlotte, N.C.), 2018: He was one of the top point guards here. Quick first and can accelerate to the rim with a burst. Leadership skills are a plus.
Jalen Carey, 6-3, Immaculate Conception (Montclair NJ), 2018: Jalen is the prototypical Big East off-guard; he is a fast break machine, plays physical and sets up his teammates. Unselfish in a camp setting where everyone wants the ball. Finishes at the rim challenging bigs and solid from the perimeter.
Eric Ayala, 6-4, Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy, 2018: The Delaware native is leaning toward Syracuse but other high majors are involved. The combo guard rises high on his jumper and is fearless in the lane.
Anferne Simons, 6-4, Edgewater (Orlando Fla.), 2018: Combo guard with a solid base and long arms. Heads into the teeth of the defense using his natural quickness. He’s already headed to Louisville and one day the NBA.
Cassius Stanley, 6-5, Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood Calif.), 2019: He is offensive oriented with a instinct for a pull-up. Excels in transition. I’ve watched him for three years here and was hoping to see a big improvement but that should eventually arrive.
Antwann Jones, 6-5, Oak Ridge (Orlando Fla.), 2018: A big wing guard who is known as a pure scorer. Defends well and can knock down the 3-ball and put the ball on floor. He’s undeclared but has offers aplenty.
Jules Bernard, 6-7, Windward School (Los Angeles), 2018: Jules is a long, lean wing with long arms and oodles of athleticism. He is best positioned in an up-tempo setting and his perimeter game is on the rise.
Precious Achiuwa, 6-7, St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.), 2019: The camp was loaded with power forwards and most analysts ranked the New Yorker in the top-5. He possesses unlimited potential features a long, athletic build. He’s a jet in transition, ferocious rebounder and defends the post well. Had a posterizing dunk over 7-2 Bol Bol here. Budding high major, gritting player to build around.
Frankie Policelli, 6-8, New Hartford (N.Y.), 2018: The Central New York wing features length and versatility. He’s accurate from 3-point range, capable of beating a defender off the bounce and mixes it up on the boards. He’s likely headed to Syracuse.
Emmitt Williams, 6-8, IMG Academy (Bradenton Fla.), 2018: He’s one of the most freakish athletes at the event. Scary how his skill set keep evolving and he leads the pack down court on the break. Plays above the rim and demonstrates an ability to bury the wing jump shot.
Darius Bazley, 6-8, Princeton (Cincinnati), 2018: Brings versatility to the offensive end, facing or back to the basket. The lefty is long and athletic but lean (197 pounds) who needs to bulk up. Recently he reopened his recruiting blowing off Ohio State. Apparently the Buckeyes recent form does not suit his high aspirations. Hometown Xavier would be a great fit.
Trendon Watford, 6-8, Mountain Brook (Birmingham Ala.), 2019: He’s one of the hottest recruits from Alabama in recent memory, making a splash as a freshman and his a two-time first team all-state selection. Trendon is an inside-outside player, with slippery moves and a smooth release. He’s still young and will blossom. Best days are ahead.
Riley Battin, 6-8, Oak Park (Calif.), 2018: A thick face-up power forward, who battles against more athletic bigs and doesn’t back down. A physical specimen, rugged around the rim and gains good positioning near the basket. He is an honor-roll student with American, Cal Poly and Northwestern involved but Pac-12 schools need to start offering. One of the surprise talents that emerged here.
Kofi Cockburn, 6-10, Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 2019: Since the high school season ended, the rising junior, powerful post is on the rise. World of potential with solid face-up moves and the ability to step out for the mid-range to 15-foot shots. Nimble for his move but plays with unchained power. Once he seals, he rocks the rim. Makes sense as a Big East or Big Ten highest major prospect.
Moses Brown, 7-1, Archbishop Molloy (Briarwood N.Y.), 2018: Cockburn and Brown are rivals from the same league but didn’t really go head-to-head here. Brown is tall, slender (215 pounds) and lithe. His post moves are exceptional and he anticipates on defense when the ball is near the post. Shot blocker extraordinaire with a solid base and powerful leaping abilities.
Cole Anthony, 6-2, Archbishop Molloy (Briarwood, N.Y.), 2019: The best point at camp and arguably the best player in the entire camp. He’s polished and one of the best combo guards in recent years to emerge from the New York City Catholic League. Has all the intangibles, elite point guard skills and will blow by any defender while attacking the rim. His father, Greg, played in the NBA—so will he.
Luther Muhammad, 6-3, Hudson Catholic (Jersey City, N.J.), 2018: He’s a fun player to watch. Really excels on offense especially in transition, where he finishes with authority. He can break down a defense off the bounce and has NBA 3-point range. His quickness is nearly unmatched in his class. McDonald’s All American caliber player. Elite combo guard.
Will Richardson, 6-4, Liberty County (Hinesville Ga.), 2018: Another elite combo guard who continues to hone his skills. Exceptional passing skills and speed jump-start his game.
Ayo Dosunmu, 6-5, Morgan Park (Chicago), 2018: He’s the top senior prospect from the Windy City and has great height, length as a 1. His athleticism and skills carry him but a more consistent perimeter is the missing part of his burgeoning game.
Charles Smith IV, 6-5, La Lumiere School (La Porte Ind.), 2019: One of the nation’s top wing guards, Smith can really fill up the basket from all angles. Whether he’s attack the rim or draining threes, he’s a scorer with flair. He previously played at Westbury Christian in Houston. The Big 12, ACC, Big East and SEC are expressing interest.
Elijah Weaver, 6-5, Oldsmar (Fla.) Christian, 2018: Weaver simply grows on you. He proved that he is one of the very best wing guards in the nation. He’s headed to the NBA Players Camp in Charlottesville, Va., later this month and that’s a perfect stage to showcase his offensive skill set to match his toughness, size and speed.
Tevian Jones, 6-6, Chandler (Ariz.), 2018: There’s a tremendous upside for this wing guard. He’s a solid defender and rebounder. He’s offensive skills are slashing and he has active hands on defense. He’ll attack the rim under intense pressure.
Samba Diallo, 6-7, Pope John XIII (Sparta N.J.), 2018: The mid-major is moving up and by the end of the summer should field a plethora of high-major offers. The hard working lefty wing from Senegal. He’s versatile enough to play four positions.
Darius Days, 6-7, The Rock School (Gainesville Fla.), 2018: He’s a combo forward that plays bigger than 6-7. He has the ability to step onto the perimeter to defend and play the post and guard taller players. He’s a dependable scorer and earns kudos for his offensive rebounding.
Charles Bassey, 6-10, St. Anthony (San Antonio, Texas), 2019: One of the best players in the nation. A year ago, Charles was the rage, coming out of virtually nowhere. He’s now considered the best prospect in the nation and a player of the year candidate. He’s a franchise player with superior offensive and defensive skills. He can play inside and outside. He’s perimeter game is expanding and a quick release helps shake a defender. Likely one and done; lottery pick in 2020.
Reggie Perry, 6-9, Thomasville (Ga.), 2018: He played like one of the top 5s here. He glides in transition and then pants himself in the post. He finishes above the rim and is a physical presence with strength and a powerful frame. Perry is verbally committed to Arkansas.
Bol Bol, 7-2, Mater Dei (Santa Ana CA), 2018: Originally from the Sudan, Bol attended high school in Kansas before transferring last winter to a West Coast powerhouse program. Long, lean and athletic, Bol is active in the post and will protect the rim. He’s also robust in transition; taking longs strides to finish the play. Needs to add muscle and develop his offensive game.
Vincent Lee, 6-8, Midlothian (Texas), 2018: Another pleasant surprise performance from the Texan. He was a top-10 power forward at camp and demonstrated it with power. He’s active on the glass especially the offensive end. On defense, he’s a handful for post players and is one of the sleepers of the spring. Summertime awaits and Lee is worth it.
Miles Norris, 6-9, Helix (San Diego), 2018: The slender 4-man possesses a soft touch around the rim. His long arms are imposing and protect the lane. He’s a great get for the Oregon Ducks.
Donatas Kupsas, 6-9, Long Island Lutheran (Brookville N.Y.), 2018: Maybe the biggest surprise at Pangos. He was the No. 2-rated power forward at a loaded position and did it with hustle and heart. Possesses all the intangibles of an elite player who continues a meteoric rise. Does not give up on many plays and sprints the floor to gain defensive position. There are more athletic 4s but do not bring the full package at both ends. Battles on the boards and absorbs the physical blows dealt by his opponents. Fearless in the paint and very good on the offensive glass. Very high ceiling and coachable.
Bryan Penn-Johnson, 6-11, Coronado (Henderson Nev.), 2018: This teenager is a future NBA player. Last weekend he shocked people with move intensity, team play, defensive intimidation and scoring. He can defend, block shots, score facing up or with the back to the basket. He did not play high school ball last season but look out this year. High major prospect without question.
There were 33 players named Top 60 “Cream of the Crop.” Earning this distinction was the byproduct of a long weekend in the gym—there were 21 rising seniors; 10 juniors and two sophomores.
Players selected include:
Tyler Harris, 5-10, Cordova (Memphis, Tenn.); Jordan McCabe, 6-0, Kaukauna (Wis.); Gianni Hunt, 6-2, Bishop Montgomery (Torrance Calif.); Trey Doomes, 6-3, Allatoona (Acworth Ga.); Bryce Hamilton, 6-4, Pasadena (Calif.); Bryce Wills, 6-5, Iona Prep (New Rochelle, N.Y.); Moses Moody, 6-5, Parkview (Little Rock, Ark.); Kevin Porter, 6-5, Rainier Beach (Seattle); Harrison Butler, 6-5, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.); Kaden Archie, 6-6, Midlothian (Texas); Jacobi Gordon, 6-7, Houston (Texas); Ethan Henderson, 6-8, Parkview (Little Rock Ark.)l; Isaiah Mucius, 6-8, St. James School (Hagerstown, Md.); Hameir Wright, 6-7, Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro N.H.); Arashma Parks, 6-9, Commonwealth Academy (Springfield Mass.); Omar Payne, 6-9, Osceola (Kissimmee Fla.); and Michael Wang, 6-9, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.).
Joe Toussaint, 5-11, Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.); Isaiah Joe, 6-1, Northside (Fort Smith, Ark.); Logan Johnson, 6-2, St. Francis (Mountain View Calif.); Tre Mann, 6-3, Villages School (The Villages Fla.); Jarod Lucas, 6-3, Los Altos (Hacienda Heights Calif.); PJ Fuller, 6-4, Nathan Hale (Seattle); Maka Ellis, 6-5, Sierra Vista (Las Vegas); Kyree Walker, 6-5, Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix); Justin Winston, 6-6, Immaculate Conception (Montclair N.J.); Jamal Bey, 6-6, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas); Eric “Isaiah” Mobley, 6-8, Rancho Christian (Temecula Calif.); J’Raan Brooks, 6-8, Garfield (Seattle); Elias King, 6-8, Christian Brothers (Sacramento Calif.); Race Thompson, 6-8, Robinsdale Armstrong (Plymouth, Minn.); Maxwell Lorca-Lloyd, 6-9, Northfield Mount Hermon (Gill, Mass.); and Joel Mensah, 6-10, JSerra (San Juan Capistrano Calif.).