June 4, 2011
CARSON, Calif. — The annual Pangos All-American Camp kicked off in the Los Angeles area on Friday night and carries through the weekend. Judging on the day one roster of players, this edition may be the most talented ever top to bottom. Some of the many elite guys in the 2012 class are in attendance, as are some hard-charging guards.
The most significant first day matchup occurred between a pair of top-three seniors: Andre Drummond and Isaiah Austin. Additionally, some other big-time battles and emerging prospects surfaced on the courts of Cal-State Dominguez Hills on day one.
The obvious starting point for this report is on the interior. Andre Drummond easily won the matchup against Isaiah Austin, due mostly to Drummond’s superior physical strength. The 6-10 senior C out-muscled Austin consistently inside, bullying him and lofting in nice baseline half-hooks. He also utilized his elite-level spin move repeatedly for dunks and one sensational and-one layup. Drummond made a couple of nice passes as well and demonstrated his potential to become an elite rebounder who grabs what falls near him but also can leap into a different horizontal zone for a board. Playing with this level of intensity, he would be difficult to keep away from the No. 1 position in the class.
For Austin, he made some nice face-up plays including one gorgeous 15-foot jump shot dribbling to his left. The future Baylor Bear also blocked several shots — including a couple of Drummond’s straight up — and made some nice passes of his own. His issues primarily were getting pushed around defensively and essentially retreating to the perimeter full-time on offense. At his best he balances his silky jump shot with some jump hooks and work on the offensive glass, and that’s what we hope to see from him going forward.
Anthony Bennett is high entertainment and likely a McDonald’s All-American next spring, too. The 6-7 BF at Henderson (NV) Findlay is one of the most physically intimidating frontcourt players in the class, carrying an extremely broad set of shoulders yet maintaining the fluid flexibility similar to the young Mike Tyson. Not to take the accolades too far, mind you, but Bennett uses his power and elite athleticism to score continually in the open floor. His ball-handling and basketball IQ need to be upgraded slightly, but he actually does possess legitimate three-point shooting range. As he incorporates more of a midrange presence, he’ll be that much more effective. He likely will rise into the national top 25 by July.
We liked him enough at the Real Deal in the Rock event in April to place him in the national top 50, and Kris Dunn likely needs to rise even further. The 6-2 PG at New London (CT) High enjoyed a fine game playing alongside travel teammate Andre Drummond, but he struck out on his own plenty as well. Dunn is a quick driver and transition scorer who has a jump shot with range to 21 feet. He excels at getting into the lane and making kick-out passes, but his size and athleticism also enable him to become a solid finisher. In a class lacking floor general talent, he has been a breath of fresh air the past couple months.
One of the most intriguing point guard tilts of the night featured Tyler Lewis against Dominic Artis. Lewis, the 5-11 N.C. State commitment at Lewisville (NC) Forsyth Country Day, had some huge moments at last weekend’s Tournament of Champions and is making his case for a higher spot in the national rankings. He posted good scoring numbers once again on Friday night, changing speeds very well and finishing nicely off the class (usually going to his right). He didn’t look to take many jump shots in this contest, but he can knock those down as well. Artis, on the other hand, primarily relied on his first step to blow past defenders and score at the rim. The 6-0 PG at Richmond (CA) Salesian also knocked in two three-pointers, an aspect of his game we’d questioned in the past. In terms of a verdict, we’d have to call it a draw. Neither player could defend the other, Lewis’ superior craft showing up on his offensive end and Artis’ excellent quickness in force on his. Both are top-100 prospects nationally.
At times on day one, Jabari Byrd was a dominant force. The 6-5 junior (Class of 2013) WF at Richmond (CA) Salesian is very aggressive and plays with the confidence you love to see from a young athlete. He attacks the offensive glass constantly and frequently reaps tip-slams as a result of his efforts. Along with that, he swishes medium-range jumpers and handles well enough to get to the hole, though he does careen out of control at times and must acquire better judgment. Still, for a young prospect, his upside is tremendous and his potential at least in the top-50 range for his class nationally.
We look forward to seeing more of Demarquise Johnson. The 6-5 WF at Phoenix (AZ) Westwind is a native of California who doesn’t have great skills for the wing (though they aren’t terrible) but uses his explosive speed and leaping ability to make plays at the hoop. He also hits an occasional three, but at other times he forces bad shots. We like him as a potential lower high-major recruit in the senior class.
We’re definitely concerned about the trajectory of Wanaah Bail. The 6-7 BF in Texas is a major athlete who skies for slams and also hits the occasional jump shot. The issue is that he hasn’t evolved as much as we hoped he would, and at times he appears lost. With multiple high school transfers muddying the issue, what this youngster may need most is some stability and an opportunity to improve his game at his own pace. He’s definitely a talent and simply needs to reverse the momentum.
Ryan Wright is an intriguing 6-6 WF at Palmdale (CA) High who needs skills but has a great stride and changes ends of the court rapidly. W need to see more, but schools at the high mid-major (possibly West Coast Conference) level should take a look.
Kris Dunn said he has offers from UConn, Providence and Marquette, but that he’s focusing on his summer before taking his recruitment to the next level. … Anthony Bennett lists a “few” schools: Florida, West Virginia, Florida State, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, UNLV, Arizona, Kentucky, Pittsburgh and UConn. … Jabari Bird claims offers from Arizona, Cal and Washington, with Oregon, Louisville, Texas, Providence and Stanford also in pursuit. With the Cardinal present, is Bird a good student? “I guess you could say that,” said Bird with a smile. …