LEWISVILLE, TX – Two of the top post players in the national Class of 2017 were on display Saturday during the first day of the Pangos All-South Frosh/Soph Camp and each more than lived up to his lofty billing.
P.J. Washington (Frisco, TX, Lone Star) and Isiah Jasey (Killeen, TX, Ellison) were oft-times spectacular – at both ends of the floor – during two games apiece for their camp squads at the MAC (Multi-sport Activities Center) in this Dallas suburb.
And their more-than likely head-to-head showdown could prove to be of highlights of the Top 20 Cream of the Crop All-Star game that is scheduled to tip off at 2:15 p.m. (CT) Sunday as the wrap up to the camp.
Camp games (each team will play twice) commence at 9 o’clock Sunday morning, with the Top 40 Cream of the Crop contest tipping off at 1:15 in the afternoon before being followed by the Top 20 game.
The MAC is located at 200 Continental Drive, about 10 minutes or so north of Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport.
Admission is $10.
Two of the best 2017 point-guard prospects in Texas hooked up in a Saturday afternoon clash and could likely face off again in the Top 20 contest Sunday afternoon.
The left-handed Tahjon Starks (DeSoto, TX) penetrated and scored a layup with three seconds to go to give his squad a 66-65 victory over a team led by Doc Nelson (Houston Episcopal).
Both were terrific, both in transition and in half-court situations, Starks hitting a couple of very deep 3s, crossing defenders at full speed and hitting cutters in the hands.
Nelson scored on a nifty finger roll (yea, ala George Gervin for those of you old enough to remember the master of the finger roll), changed speeds expertly and once split a double team about as well as fellows like Chris Paul can slice up doubles.
The two most vertically spectacular players on display Saturday were 6-4 Malik Hudson (Grand Prairie, TX, South) and 6-3 Zhaire Smith (Garland, TX, Lakeview), both sophomores.
The dead giveaway among Hudson’s leaping prowess came in the layup line before his first game, when he executed a couple of 360-degree dunks with the greatest of ease.
He threw down a couple of shots, after lob passes, during which both elbows were rim-level when he was slamming leather through that metal cylinder.
I didn’t see anyone get up any higher than Hudson Saturday, nor did I see anyone get up any quicker than did Smith, who would kill in those tests for flat-footed verticality that they perform at the NBA Pre-Draft Camp. He got a piece of at least one of the 6-9 Jasey’s turn-around jump hooks Saturday night.
I hesitate in proclaiming 6-3 Jordan Myers (Ft. Worth, TX, North Crowley) the best “2 guard” prospect from the Class of 2017 at the camp only in that I didn’t get a chance Saturday to watch the kid who is most likely his top challenger for that moniker, Trae Young (Norman, OK) – who, like Myers, was also impressive at this camp a year ago a ninth grader.
Oklahoma was also represented by three quality sophomore post prospects in 6-9 Cameron Martin (Yukon), who did a solid job of establishing low-block position on his opponents; 6-6 Winston Nelson (Norman North), who has a nice combination of back-to-the-bucket and face-up skills; and 6-7 Harrison Stoddart (Edmond North), who has a smooth shooting touch to the top of the key.
There were at least two sets of siblings I noticed Saturday, too.
P.J. Washington’s brother, Spencer, is a 6-3 left-handed freshman with a smooth jumper to near the arc.
And while 6-1 Zach Thomas (Duncanville, TX) was one of the better freshmen guards I watched Saturday, 5-11 Zarek Thomas is likely the most polished of the eight eighth graders in the camp.
Basketball camp all-star games – more often than not – are muddled and sloppy affairs, while ending up as prime examples of selfishness, hoops-style.
Sunday afternoon, at the MAC for the wrap-up of the annual Pangos All-South Frosh/Soph Camp, proved an exception to that most unfortunate rule of thumb.
The event’s Top 60 and Top 30 Cream of the Crop games were mostly well-played and competitive, from opening tips until the final buzzers, without an extreme amount of “shot hunting” on display.
The all-around play of 6-foot-8 sophomore Paul Washington Jr. helped the square wearing black jerseys break out to an early double-figure margin advantage and, later, the long-distance shooting of another sophomore, Trae Young, helped the team hold off a rally by the White squad, 77-70, in the Top 30 game.
Washington – better known as “P.J.” – earned game Most Outstanding Player honors for the contest.
Washington, who played very well at the USA Basketball Mini Camp in Colorado Springs (Oct. 4-5), often found himself pitted against another of the nation’s 2017 big men in the Top 30 game – 6-9 Isiah Jasey, who may have been the leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker during the four camp games played over the weekend that were used to determine the all-star selections.
Six-foot Zarek Thomas – a member of the Class of 2019 – scored 15 points and bagged MOP honors in the Top 60 game as his White squad prevailed, 74-72, as sophomore Devion Dunbar and freshman Jordan Phillips missed potential score-tying shots in the final seconds.
Thomas freshman brother, Zach Thomas, played for the White team in the Top 30 game and was one of the better point guards and on-ball defenders at the two-day event that attracted approximately 150 participants.
My choices for the 15 sophomores and five freshmen that played the best over the weekend are as follows (based on weekend performances and not strictly college potential)l:
Gregory Bowie II (2017/6-2/San Antonio Johnson)
Peter Byrd Jr. (2018/5-11/Richmond, TX, Bush)
J.J. Chandler (2017/6-4/Katy, TX, Cinco Ranch)
Andy Clerveau (2018/6-9/Plano, TX, Willowbend Academy)
Caleb Daniels (2017/6-2/New Orleans St. Augustine)
Jacobi Gordon (2018/6-6/Houston, Home School)
Malik Hudson (2017/6-4/Grand Prairie, TX, South)
Isiah Jasey (2017/6-9/Killeen, TX, Ellison)
Brady Manek (2017/6-7/Harrah, OK)
Chris Mullins (2018/6-2/Mansfield, TX, Timberview)
Jordan Myers (2017/6-3/Ft. Worth North Crowley)
Doc Nelson (2017/6-1/Houston Episcopal)
Winston Nelson (2017/6-6/Norman, OK, North)
C.J. Roberts (2017/6-1/North Richland Hills, TX, Richland)
Zhaire Smith (2017/6-3/Garland, TX, Lakeview)
T.J. Starks (2017/5-11/Desoto, TX)
Zach Thomas (2018/6-0/Duncanville, TX)
Paul Washington Jr. (2017/6-8/Frisco, TX, Lone Star)
Daishaun Woods (2017/6-6/Frisco, TX, Lone Star)
Trae Young (2017/6-1/Norman, OK, North)