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June 2, 2013
Johnson puts on dominating performance
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Day two of the Pangos All-American camp was an entertaining one. Five-star Stanley Johnson brought the day's activities to a close with a dominant performance on a day when some more off-the-radar guys such as Terry Larrier and Thomas Welsh emerged.
Johnson closes Saturday in style
For the most part, the highest-ranked players at the Pangos All-American camp have been playing up to their rankings. On Saturday, though, nobody was playing at a higher level than five-star wing Johnson. The 6-foot-6 rising senior at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei ended things in style with a dominating performance.
In the past, Johnson's play has drawn comparisons to Ron Artest. That comparison holds true in terms of willingness to play physically, toughness and superior strength versus high schoolers. But Johnson also plays the game with a level of skill that Artest didn't have as a 17-year-old. He handles the ball well, gets to the rim and is a good shooter from deep. His all-around game is strong, and he will be moving up the rankings. Book him for the national top 10, and Johnson may even push for the top five.
Larrier and Welsh make most of opportunity
Long, wiry and skilled off the dribble, Larrier has made the transformation from face-up four who can stretch a defense to legitimate small forward. He sets up shots easily off of the dribble, he likes pull-up jumpers, and he is a fluid athlete and finisher around the rim. Inconsistency and lack of strength have been bugaboos for him, but he's made significant strides in those areas. He has earned his spot in the next Rivals150 for the class of 2014, and it's just a matter of how high he enters the rankings.
Like Larrier, Welsh has made significant strides with his game in the last year. The product of Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola isn't a high-flying athlete, and he is not a speed burner. However, he has tremendous hands and soft touch, and he plays tough on both ends of the floor. There aren't a lot of reliable low post scorers who have moves to counter the defense, and Welsh does. He is making a strong push for the rankings.
California, Santa Clara, USC, Arizona State, Portland, Gonzaga, Saint Louis and San Francisco are among his early offers. He had an offer from the previous UCLA staff, and he says that Steve Alford and his staff have reached out as well.
Arizona class of 2014 is strong
The class of rising seniors in Arizona has been looking like a strong one for a while now. At Pangos, it has proved it. A solid group of players from the desert has done its thing in Long Beach, and Connor MacDougall, Casey Benson, Kodi Justice, Andre Adams and Michael Humphrey have had nice moments during the first two days of camp.
Unranked and committed to Arizona State, MacDougall has been impressive. He's lean but strong at 6-foot-8, and he plays tough around the rim. His skill is good, and his will to fight for rebounds is strong. Also committed to Arizona State is Justice. A wing shooter with good size, Justice has knocked down open looks and showed to be a good passer as well.
Since bursting onto the scene in the last year, Adams has been progressing nicely. He's added bulk to his 6-foot-8 frame, and he remains a high-level shot-blocking threat. He's also a good athlete who has scored the ball well when it has found its way inside to him. Benson is a skilled southpaw who can shoot and handle, and he plays with plenty of toughness.
Finally, Humphrey has been a pleasant surprise at camp. A 6-foot-9 high school quarterback, he's a long and wiry power forward. He lacks strength, but he is athletic around the rim, runs the floor well and has shown good anticipation on the glass. Humphrey said he has yet to get his first offer (that will change in July) but has heard from several Ivy League schools, Utah State, Arizona State, Rice and Tulsa.
Final Saturday notes and news
Dwayne Morgan is a five-star prospect in the national top 15, and Daniel Hamilton is working his way into that territory. Saturday afternoon, the two went head-to-head and showed high-level game. Committed to UNLV, Morgan has put on an admirable Pangos performance considering that his right hand is extremely swollen from injury. You would never have known he was hurt, though, as he was finishing, making tough shots off the dribble and playing high-level defense. The Connecticut-bound Hamilton can play defense on the perimeter as well, and he is a big two guard at 6-foot-6. He is an advanced playmaker and scorer, and he doesn't take plays off on either end of the floor. Watching Morgan and Hamilton compete against each other was a treat.
Make no mistake about it, Stephen Zimmerman's spot at No. 2 in the class of 2015 is safe. The lean and lanky big man was again playing a game that features skill, coordination and improved athleticism. He had a series on which he chased down a dunk attempt for a big block and then on the other end of the floor he took the ball to the rim off the dribble for an emphatic slam during a wing clearout/isolation. There just aren't a lot of 6-foot-11 rising juniors capable of that.
Go ahead and pencil in Marquese Chriss for the 2015 rankings in four-star territory. The 6-foot-7 forward is a big-time athlete who plays above the rim and commands respect in tight quarters. He's been a beast on the glass, he looks to have touch on medium-range jumpers, and he is one of the camp's breakout performers.
He is raw, but there is plenty to like about four-star wing Ray Smith. The 6-foot-6 class of 2015 prospect from Las Vegas has all the physical tools in the world with his athleticism and long arms, and he plays hard. He is a high-level transition finisher, he rebounds well, and he will be a good enough shooter that people will have to respect him. Smith listed early offers from UNLV, San Diego State and Northern Arizona, while Washington and Oregon have started to show interest. Smith said he's trying to set up an unofficial visit to check on the Huskies.
Not surprisingly, the class of 2016 continues to look strong, and a few of those rising sophomores have emerged at Pangos. One who has been impressive is Californian Trevor Stanback. A 6-foot-9 center who is still growing, Stanback runs the floor well and is a high-level defensive presence. He has been one of the most aggressive and consistent guys blocking and contesting shots, and he will be a player down the road. USC, UNLV and UConn have offered, while Stanford, Washington and Ohio State have been in to see him.
Four-star big man Jaylen Johnson continues to have a nice spring. The 6-foot-9 power forward can run the floor, and he's active on the glass. The offense will come along, but his activity in the lane will make coaches smile. Oregon, Michigan State, Arizona State, Arizona, Iowa, Miami, Florida State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati are among those involved.
Power forward Craig Victor continues to focus on playing on the interior to success. Victor has been a solid scoring and rebounding threat around the rim, and he is playing hard. He's starting to add strength to his previously lean frame, and the ability to play with power has been beneficial.
A 6-foot-8 rising senior power forward, Omar Sherman has had a nice run in Long Beach. A big and strong kid, he effectively uses his bulk and strength around the basket while having the touch to step out and make shots. He's steadily improving, and he is a bubble high-major recruit.
Rivals150 wing Wade Baldwin was good in the afternoon session. The rangy two guard was making jumpers, but where he impressed most was in his driving to the rim and playmaking in transition.
2015 four-star Antonio Blakeney got off to a slow start on Friday night. Saturday, though, that changed as he got hot from deep and started making jumpers from all over. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard is a crafty scorer who never lacks confidence and has a playing style that falls somewhere between former Missouri star Marcus Denmon and Kentucky's Doron Lamb.