An impressive collection of high-major, Division I recruiting prospects took to the courts on the Cal State University of Dominguez Hills campus this weekend. While Class of 2012 standouts Shabazz Muhammad, Andre Drummond and Isaiah Austin certainly didn’t disappoint, the real story coming out of the 2011 Pangos All-American Camp is the basketball athletes who still had some things to prove and did.
Randazzo’s Camp MVP
6-8, 220 PF (2012)
Findlay Prep (NV)
247Sports Ranking: No. 31
Don’t get me wrong, Bishop Gorman shooting guard Shabazz Muhammad was unbelievable over the weekend, but no single player impressed me more than Anthony Bennett whose stock had slipped somewhat in the fall after struggling through injuries during his sophomore season at Findlay Prep.
Bennett played with a purpose all three days. If there was a loose ball rolling across the court Bennett was diving for it. If there was a rebound to be had, Bennett was coming down with it. As for scoring, forget about it. Bennett was hitting shots consistently from anywhere on the floor, including several nothing-but-net treys. He spent the majority of the weekend battling notable 2012 center prospects Drummond, Austin, Cameron Ridley and Robert Upshaw as well as power forwards Grant Jerrett, Ben Carter, Rosco Allen, and Charles Mitchell. In a game that featured Bennett, Austin and Drummond – 247 Sports’ No. 2 and No. 3 2012 prospects, respectively – Bennett was by far the best player on the court that game. He showed a willingness to bang inside and when given an opportunity to stretch the defense and play in space, he unveiled a variety of nifty moves and shots to either blow by his defender and finish at the rim or step-back and rise up for a mid- to long-range jumper. Most impressive though was Bennett’s ability to secure the defensive board and lead the break, something he did often at Pangos. Bennett showed above-average court awareness as a floor leader in transition and proved he’s as willing to facilitate and create for others as he is in compiling scoring stats. If Bennett plays with this kind of energy between now and the end of the July evaluation period he’ll skyrocket up the national rankings list.
Even Better than Advertised
6-5, 205 SG/SF
Bishop Gorman (NV)
247 Sports Ranking: No. 1
Shabazz doesn’t need any more hype than he’s already receiving from the national media, but still gave reporters and recruiting analysts some new stuff to talk about at Pangos. First off, I’m referring to Shabazz in this article by first name (rather than formally using his last name) because he’s one of those one-name personalities like Prince, Madonna, or more fittingly, Jordan. Second, he’s your classic Type A personality in that he’ll snap a cue stick over his knee if he loses a game of billiards to his 10-year old cousin (sarcasm). The point is his passion to win translates over to every element of Shabazz’s life, including his approach to basketball. Over the weekend, Shabazz played at full-speed regardless of the situation. By way of example, Sunday in the Top 25 Cream of the Crop Game, after a an opponent’s free throw make and with zero on-ball pressure, Shabazz pushed the ball in full sprint up the court to enter the offense as quickly as possible. That’s something guys auditioning for the NBA do, not high school juniors with little left to prove on the spring and summer circuits.
As for Shabazz the player, he truly is explosive. He’s the kind of athlete that possesses that rare blend of finesse and power. Every Shabazz dunk can be heard from across the gym, putting the word “thunder” in thunder dunk. Further, once he lifts off the ground Shabazz seems to glide gracefully through the air before ending the play violently at the rim. Video highlights do Shabazz little justice although they’re fun to watch. There’s most certainly a lot to like about Shabazz, including his ever-improving jump shot that is beginning to hit more net than rim. What truly separates him from any other player in the country though is his array of basketball skills combined with an unparalleled competitive spirit. At one point in Sunday’s all-star game, I overheard Shabazz tell one of his teammates, “You’re being so lazy, bro.” If that doesn’t tell you what kind of competitor Shabazz is nothing will.
Youth Being Served
Stephen Domingo (2013), a 6-foot-7 wing player from St. Ignatius Prep (CA), had a strong camp shooting the basketball. His 30-point effort on 5-of-7 shooting from behind the arc Sunday was one of the most impressive performances during the event, but it was really a bi-product of an entire spring of putting in hard work with his shooting coach. If Domingo can keep the sideline chatterboxes out of his ear that attend these events and encourage athletes to go for the hero dunk or the ill-advised jump shot he has a chance to become a rising star in his class because the natural scoring ability is there.
Aaron Gordon (2013), a 6-foot-8 forward from Archbishop Mitty (CA), is one of those Mr. Everything guys that hustles on every play and gets points by being in the right place at the right time. Gordon can jump out of the gym, isn’t afraid to mix it up with bigger players, and is quick enough to guard smaller opponents on the perimeter. He had a strong camp, filled with his usual rebounds, dunks and hustle plays that left him with a noticeable, probably still-swelling bruise over his left eye.
Shaqquan Aaron, a 2014 guard from Mater Dei (CA), is one reason why people are talking about the Monarchs as the team to beat in California for several years to come. Aaron, at 6-feet-6, has point guard skills and sees himself filling that role in some capacity at the next level. He has a long way to go until college, but schools from across the country are already giving him plenty of attention. Like the majority of young players, Aaron’s decision making hasn’t caught up to his athleticism yet, but he did flash a little point-guard brilliance in Sunday’s all-star game when he went up and under the rim (in traffic) only to drop a fancy dime for a dunk to a trailing teammate on the break.
Stanley Johnson (2014), is yet another reason why Mater Dei is going to be a solid club for a long while. At 6-foot-5, Johnson has great rise on his jumper (and great vertical balance), and uses the dribble well to set up scoring opportunities. He can elevate to the rim with ease, but is more of perimeter player at this stage in his development. It’s hard to tell if Johnson will grow any taller because he’s already filled out, physically. Regardless, for Johnson the next few years will be about fine tuning his game and upping his basketball IQ. If he does, he likely has a promising career ahead of him.
Solomon Poole (2013) is a good-looking point guard from Jacksonville, Florida (Parker HS). Poole made the Top 25 all-star game and despite standing at 6-foot-1, showed off his hops with two impressive dunks, one coming in traffic. Poole also highlighted a smooth-looking outside jumper all weekend to go along with the kind of lateral quickness that coaches look for on the defensive end.
Ikenna Iroegbu (2013) was another impressive 2013 point guard competing at Pangos. Iroegbu, who is transferring to Oak Hill Academy (VA), fits the profile of a stereotypical point guard that will facilitate the offense, but score when the opportunity is presented. Ikenna, like Poole, has a solid handle that holds up in traffic and when moving at top speed.
Jordan Bell (2013), a 6-foot-7 forward from Long Beach Poly (CA), is a nice looking prospect that’s just starting to gain attention. On Sunday Bell was excellent in contesting shots all over the floor, tallying more than a few blocks in and around the paint. He showed well when helping off his man and displayed a knack of producing well-timed blocked shots either trailing his man or assisting others with backside help. Offensively, Bell is timid with his shot but the potential is there once he gains confidence and begins to pull the trigger more on open looks.
[b]Highs and Lows
Andre Drummond (2012) showed why he’s 247 Sports’ No. 3 recruiting prospect. The 6-foot-10, 255 pound center from St. Thomas Moore (CT) was a beast inside. I didn’t see every dunk that went down this weekend, but odds are if someone was slamming the basketball at Pangos it was likely Drummond. He has a really strong lower body, and a solid upper build which helped him outplay Isaiah Austin on several occasions. I was impressed by Drummond’s first step to the basket and better-than-billed ball handling skills for an athlete his size. If there’s a weakness, it’s in his shot. Drummond struggled from the foul line all weekend and rarely attempted a shot outside of eight feet.
Rosco Allen (2012), from Bishop Gorman (NV) is an intriguing forward with a lot of upside. In Sunday’s Top 25 game, Allen had perhaps his quickest crossover dribble ever when he eluded a guard near midcourt. He also scored in a variety of ways, including dunks, long-range buckets and a really nice turnaround jumper off the low block. What’s to like about Allen is how he plays off his teammates, using screens to get open and floating to the right spots on the floor. In question is his ability to breakdown a defender (bigger or smaller) in space. Allen likes to face the basket on offense, and likely projects to a four at the college level that’s used to stretch defenses by scoring off the pick-and-pop.
[b]Ben Carter (2012) is another forward from Bishop Gorman. At 6-foot-7, Carter has tremendous explosion when jumping off of two feet. He can get to the rim quickly, and is an active defender. Carter is the type of athlete that tends to shine more in team settings where he can play within a system and get to the right spots on the floor (see any of his Bishop Gorman games). In that kind of environment, Carter always seems to be in the best position to help his squad for either an easy put-back or a hands-up slash to the basket off the pick and roll.
[b]Cameron Ridley (2012) is a Texas verbal who had a strong showing at Pangos. The 6-foot-10 center from Fort Bend, Tex. plays big inside the paint, contesting shots and finishing well at the rim. He also looks comfortable in the mid-range as both a scorer and passer over the top of defenses.
Salesian High’s Dominic Artis (2012) simply gets it done as a point guard. He’s not overly flashy, but seems to make the right decision with the ball in his hands every time down the floor.
Xavier Johnson (2012) from Mater Dei has excellent rotation on his jump shot, as well as the length (6-foot-7) and wingspan to ensure that he gets that shot off no matter who’s defending him. Johnson, like Artis, isn’t the flashiest of players but routinely finds ways to get things done on both ends of the floor.
Winston Shepard (2012), a 6-foot-8 attacking small forward from Findlay Prep is really fun to watch. He’s sneaky quick and does a little bit of everything for his team. He’s surprisingly unselfish for a player with a scorer’s mentality, and competes hard every second he’s on the court.
The lone casualty of the weekend was 2012’s Archie Goodwin from Sylvan Hills (AR). The 6-foot-5 guard, who had a strong camp and earned his way into the Top 25 all-star game, landed hard after being fouled on a dunk attempt. Goodwin tried to brace his fall with his hand as he crashed to the floor on his backside, resulting in what appeared to be a broken wrist on his shooting hand.