LA GRANGE, Ill. – Southern California-based hoops entrepreneur Dinos Trigonis has fronted a lot of “Pangos” camps and the ensuing all-star games that have wrapped each of them up since they made their debut nearly 20 years ago.
But it’s unlikely there have been many – if any – of those games to top the Top 30 contest played Sunday afternoon at the Pangos All-Midwest Frosh-Soph Camp at the Park District Recreation Center in this suburb of Chicago.
A mostly back-and-forth affair between the team wearing white jerseys and its black-wearing counterparts seemingly had turned in the white-wearers’ favor with a few minutes to go.
But that’s when a freshman guard from St. Rita High in Chicago, 5-foot-9 Joel Watts, started busting deep jump shots for the team in black.
Watts (who shared team-scoring honors of 16 points with 6-4 sophomore Jalen Windham of Indianapolis Ben Davis), scored 13 points in a two-minute stretch, the last three of those via a deep jumper over the top of sophomore defender Treye Tucker (Rockford, IL, Christian Life) to put his team up, 109-108, with 50 seconds to play.
A shot by sophomore guard Kejaun Clements (Chicago Simeon) of the white-wearers was missed with 39 seconds remaining but Clements came up with a steal and scored while being fouled, with the ensuing free throw putting the white jerseys back up, 111-109, with 27 tics on the block.
Brandon Weston (a 6-3 freshman from New York City who attends St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Wisconsin) was fouled while shooting but couldn’t knock in the field goal or ensuing free throw with 22 seconds to go.
With the white-wearing squad seemingly utilizing a modified version of “keep-away” to keep the ball moving and preventing its opponents from picking off a pass or fouling the ball handler, the official called Clements for stepping on the sideline, just behind the mid-court stripe with 2.2 seconds to go.
Weston took the inbounds pass at near mid-court, took one dribble from the far sideline (opposite the benches) and launched a 35-footer that swished at the buzzer:
Black jerseys prevail, 112-111.
“I looked (at the clock) after one dribble and shot,” Weston said after being swamped by teammates. “It felt good when it left my hand.”
Weston hit two other – much less dramatic, of course – shots behind the arc to finish with nine points.
Markese Jacobs, a 6-foot sophomore at Chicago Uplift Community High who committed to Kansas earlier this month (more than two years before he can sign a national letter of intent with the Jayhawks), hit four 3s en route to 14 points for the black jersey-wearing crew while Clements led all scorers with 21 points by way of jump shots and cool drives.
The loss overshadowed a dominant low-post performance by left-handed 6-8 sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis (Greenwood, IN/Center Grove), who scored 14 points, blocked four shots and grabbed six rebounds for the white jerseys.
Turning in strong efforts in the Top 60 All-Star game (won by the white jerseys, 96-82), were, among others sophomores Antonio Reeves (Chicago Kenwood Academy) and Lamond Johnson and Shon Robinson (both of Chicago Morgan Park).
The forceful effort by Jackson-Davis in the Top 30 capped a Sunday which also featured quite impressive performances turned in by fellow “bigs” (guys at least 6-8 tall) in Patrick McCaffery (Iowa City West), Taeyon Neal (Chicago Providence St. Mel), John-Michael Mulloy (Carmel, IN/Indiana) and Jamari Sibley (Milwaukee Nicolet).
McCaffery was my choice as the camp’s No. 1 player; Neal was the best “center” prospect in the camp (but couldn’t play in the all-star game because of problems with his vision as he had left his prescription goggles at his high school on Friday); Mulloy was better each time I watched him on Saturday and Sunday; and Sibley, who didn’t play until Sunday morning, may have as much “upside” as any player in the camp with the possible exception of McCaffery.
My “Best of the Camp” selections follow. They are not based upon “college potential/what kind of prospects” they are but how well they played (effort and shot selection were big factors) when I watched this weekend.
Top 25 performers (alpha listing):
SOPHOMORES (Class of 2019/15 players)
Mohammed Alauska 6-3 (Chicago/University of Laboratory Schools)
Detalian Brown Jr. 6-2 (Berwyn, IL/Morton West)
Kejuan Clements 6-3 (Chicago/Simeon)
Nolan Foster 6-9 (Mattawan, MI/Mattawan)
Malik Hall 6-5 (Wichita/Sunrise Christian)
Amauri Pesek-Hickson 6-2 (Omaha, NE/South)
Markese Jacobs 6-0 (Chicago/Uplift Community High)
Trace Jackson-Davis 6-8 (Greenwood, IN/Center Grove)
Kevon Mayers 6-5 (Chicago/Bogan)
Patrick McCaffery 6-9 (Iowa City, IA/West)
John-Michael Mulloy 6-8 (Carmel, IN/Carmel)
Taeyon Neal 6-9 (Chicago/Providence St. Mel)
Jeremiah Oden 6-6 (Chicago/St. Rita)
Marquis Walker 6-0 (Westchester, IL/St. Joseph)
Justin Warren 5-9 (Chicago/Whitney Young)
FRESHMEN (Class of 2020 plus one *2021/10 players)
Patrick Baldwin Jr.* 6-5 (Evanston, IL/Haven Middle School)
Nimari Burnett 6-3 (Chicago/Morgan Park)
Isaiah Burrell 6-5 (Chicago/Morgan Park)
Zach Carr 6-0 (West Des Moines, IA/Valley)
Eric Goodes 5-8 (Merrillville, IN/Merrillville)
Jamari Sibley 6-9 (Milwaukee/Nicolet)
Raymond Terry 6-9 (Gary, IN/Bowman Academy)
Jeremiah Washington 5-8 (Chicago/Bogan)
Joel Watts 5-9 (Chicago/St. Rita)
Brandon Weston 6-3 (Delafield, WI/St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy)