Over the weekend, one of the best high school All-Star events played anywhere in America took place in my adopted hometown of Los Angeles, with the Pangos All-American Camp running from Friday to Sunday. While Pangos doesn’t get the buzz of some of the other camps across the country, it routinely brings the biggest names in high school basketball who are entering their junior and senior years of high school from across the country to a small gym in Southern California. Current NBA stars like James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and John Wall have come through Pangos over the years, and just in the last couple summers, I’ve personally seen Trae Young, Michael Porter Jr., DeAndre Ayton, Cole Anthony, Hamidou Diallo and others.
This event is BONKERS. And with the best seniors in America now off to college (Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Tyrese Maxey etc.), Los Angeles was the place where most of the top players now entering their junior and senior seasons took the court this weekend. It included a number of guys being recruited by Kentucky, including 2020 prospects Cade Cunningham, Isaiah Todd, Daishen Nix and Cliff Omoruyi and some of the best 2021 prospects in the country including Terrence Clarke, who has offers from pretty much everybody.
Ultimately, I am far from a recruiting expert, but this was a chance to see some of the best high school players in the country. And following a packed weekend, below are some thoughts.
Also, look out over the next few days, as I’ll have mini-profiles of some of the players I spoke to, including Cade Cunningham, and a few others.
Cade Cunningham is a rock star:
Of every player at the event, Cunningham is the guy that I wanted to see the most. It isn’t often that you have a guy ranked in the Top 10 nationally, who recruiting experts are saying that they believe is actually “under-ranked” and who they plan on moving up their next set of new rankings. Only that’s exactly what they’re saying about Cunningham.
That’s also what made Cunningham’s first impression so darn impressive: On Friday night, I walked to a far court, took one look at a kid wearing a “No. 60” jersey, saw him make a play and said “Who is THAT?” thinking in my mind, “that kid looks like what the No. 1 player in the country should look.” Of course it was Cunningham. And again, some kids just look different when they play – even among elite peers. And he was one of them.
Top 10 pic.twitter.com/iydefeQKaL
— Cade Cunningham (@CadeCunningham_) May 30, 2019
With Cunningham he doesn’t so much play basketball as glide across the court, the game seemingly coming effortlessly to him. He catches the ball and immediately attacks, and for a guy his age, has an impressively complete all-around offensive game. He can hit threes, get into the lane or finish at the rim, and also made plays as a passer and distributor this weekend. In the process, he won Co-MVP of the camp alongside California big man Evan Mobley (more on him later), and the most impressive part was that it all came after an exhausting week for Cunningham. The 6’6 junior finished school at Montverde Academy on Wednesday, flew home to Texas on Thursday, then arrived at Pangos Friday.
I’ll have a more in-depth profile of Cunningham coming in the next few days, but the big thing to know about him is this: He just recently put out a list of Top 10 schools last week. He told me he cut the list because he didn’t want any schools to waste their time recruiting him that he didn’t have any interest. Most recruiting experts seem to believe that while it’s early, right now the team to beat is Oklahoma State. When I asked him why, he said they were the first school to offer him a scholarship, dating all the way back to when current head coach Mike Boynton (now entering his third year) was an assistant back in 2017.
Daishen Nix is the real deal
The other guy I really wanted to get a good look at was Dashien Nix, the point guard who is originally from Alaska but currently lives in Las Vegas. He has been touted as the “best passer in high school basketball” and umm yeah, he didn’t disappoint.
Nix isn’t the most hyper-athletic kid, but like so many good point guards before him, is always in complete control. He never plays too fast and let’s the game come to him, and yes, he is an elite passer he was advertised to be. When Nix was on the court with fellow top guard Dominick Harris (already committed to Gonzaga) the pair played well off each other.
Nix got a visit from Joel Justus a few weeks ago, but says that it’s way too early for him to even think about recruiting. He admitted that he probably won’t even cut down his list until the middle of his senior season. When asked if he was going to take the Cole Anthony route and wait until the last possible second to pick a school, he smiled and said “Nah, nothing like that,” but it’s clear a commitment is pretty far away.
Also, for those wondering, he told me he likes living in Vegas, although he said the summers get too hot for him. Not surprising for a kid who grew up in Alaska.
— Overtime (@overtime) June 3, 2019
Top 2021 prospect Terrence Clarke is the next big thing in high school hoops (if he isn’t already)
Remember those old episodes of Baywatch, where you’d see a beautiful girl running down the beach, her… umm… hair… yeah, hair… bouncing in slow motion and all you could do is think to yourself “This is perfect?” That’s honestly what it was like watching top 2021 prospect Terrence Clarke play basketball. The kid was just born to play hoop.
Although the No. 2 ranked prospect in the 2021 class just finished his sophomore year, Clarke already has the look of a “three and D” NBA wing. He’s a legit 6’7, can pass, dribble, shoot, make plays off the bounce and is a monster in the open court. I believe he actually put the ball between his legs for one mid-game dunk – although honestly I’m blacking out just thinking about Clarke’s play this weekend, so that might not have happened. Forgive me if I’m making that up, but the kid was just that good.
Ultimately, I will never put the label of “Can’t Miss” on a kid because that’s just not fair. But I’m having a hard time remembering seeing a kid who has a game that is more perfectly suited for the modern NBA at such a young age than Clarke. He’s a player who seems destined for a blueblood school, although out of curiosity I did ask him about his thoughts on R.J. Hampton’s decision to go to Australia. He put it succinctly: “That’s one where you have to wait and see how it goes.” A lot of great high school players will be doing exactly that these next few years.
I enjoyed talking to Cliff Omoruyi more than any single player at this weekend’s event
Full disclosure: I spoke with a bunch of kids this weekend, and was blown away by the poise and maturity of each of them. Cade Cunningham, Terrence Clarke, Dashien Nix etc., are WAY more put together than I was at that age. Credit to their parents and the adults around them. They were all seriously awesome to speak with.
Still, there was something I especially enjoyed when speaking with Top 2020 low post prospect Cliff Omoruyi. He’s just a special kid.
Again, in the interest of full-disclosure, I only got to watch him a little bit, and I came away thinking that he’s a hyper-athletic big guy, but also raw and needs time to develop. In his defense, that’s not really surprising, considering that he told me he just started playing basketball two years ago. As a matter of fact, that’s what impressed me so much about Omoruyi: He came to the US from Nigeria on an academic scholarship and told me he one day wants to become a mechanical engineer. Honestly, in an era where so many on the American basketball landscape undersell the value of education (God forbid you wait a year to start your professional clock!) it was so damn refreshing to talk to this kid.
Anyway, I’ve seen some scuttlebutt that Omoruyi would consider reclassifying, but that didn’t really sound like it was on the table to me. He said his plan is to cut his list of schools down to 10 or five in October, on his birthday.
Some other news and notes on kids I saw:
Isaiah Todd: Because I’ve seen so much of Todd over the last few years, I didn’t really feel like it was necessary to watch him all that much. And to be honest, from what I saw, he’s the same player he’s always been: Hyper-skilled, able to handle the ball and shoot the rock from deep. Admittedly, I wish he’d take the ball down low a little bit more, but keep in mind this was an All-Star camp setting, and once he gets into a more structured environment in college, whoever coaches him will push Todd harder than anyone at a one-weekend All-Star camp. Jack Pilgrim has been all over Todd’s recruitment, so I’ll defer to him on what you need to know there.
Evan Mobley: As much as I love Cunningham there just is no doubt: Evan Mobley is the best player in high school basketball. The kid is a legit 7-feet, with a 7’6 wingspan, and completely alters the game on both ends of the court. When he decides to pick things up on defense, you’re simply not going to score within five feet from the basket. And offensively he just gobbles up everything and throws it down. It shows just how good he is that Mobley was able to win Co-MVP of the camp, despite being hobbled with a back injury throughout the weekend.
At this point there really isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said about Mobley, but if you’re wondering why you haven’t heard more about his recruitment, it’s because his dad is an assistant at USC. Although Mobley told me he considers his recruitment to be wide open, it is widely presumed that he will end up as a Trojan.
Isa Silva consistently got his teammates involved with his eye-popping passes at Pangos this weekend. He was the leading assist man with 15 and also averaged 13.8 ppg ? @isilv3 @PangosAACamp pic.twitter.com/E8vMozf8qu
— BallerTV (@BallerTV) June 3, 2019
Dalen Terry: Another guy that jumped out to me is Top 40 prospect Dalen Terry. The kid is a legit 6’7 guard, defends his you-know-what off, and has an ability to get to his spots on the court and get buckets in the lane. His shot needs some work, but as one of the youngest players in the 2020 class, he will get there, and overall, I’d argue his upside is as high as anyone at Pangos this weekend. I actually had a prominent media member say to me, “I bet he ends up as one of the best pro prospects out of this class” and I don’t necessarily disagree. Virtually all of the Pac-12 is on Terry, as is Arkansas, although to be honest, I don’t think he’ll end up a Razorback. He told me there is no time-frame on his commitment, and that “when I find the right school, I’ll just know.”
Isa Silva: Finally, just go ahead and store this name for safe-keeping: It’s Isa Silva, a 2021 prospect from the Sacramento area. Silva was, at least according to the recruiting services, one of the “lowest rated” prospects at this camp, but absolutely blew up, destroying everyone in his path. He has an almost Steve Nash-like ability to not only get to his spots on the court, but make the right decision once he gets there, and can already make every pass you’d ever want a point guard to make. I saw him put one between a defender’s legs this weekend, and there was another play where he drove the lane, four defenders collapsed on him, and he dropped a perfect behind-the-back pass to his teammate for an uncontested dunk. He told me that right now he only has one high-major scholarship offer, but I promise you this kid will end up as a Top 50 prospect and at a major school. He just screams like the type of kid who will play at Virginia, and inevitably drop 30 points at Cameron Indoor against a much more highly-touted prospect. He’s Ty Jerome 2.0. Just go ahead and mark his name down. Trust me on this.
Also, please keep an eye on KSR throughout the week, as I’ll have a few shorter profiles about some of the guys I saw this weekend.