Arguably the top recruiting and scouting event of the year, the Pangos All-American Camp, tipped off in Las Vegas late Sunday evening, with 120 of the nation’s top high school prospects gathering together at Tarkanian Basketball Academy for a three-day showcase in front of 29 NBA teams and high-profile talent evaluators.
Alumni for the prestigious event include Anthony Davis, James Harden, Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Jrue Holiday, among countless others. Tomorrow’s stars are found today at the nation’s top non-shoe affiliated grassroots basketball event, as it has for 19 years running. This year’s event should prove to be no exception.
KSR is in attendance to see the top prospects of 2022 and 2023, along with a handful of 2024 and 2025 prospects getting their first opportunities to showcase their talents on the big stage.
Before we get into the early standouts, let’s knock out some of the absentees with recruiting ties to the Kentucky basketball program. UK commit Skyy Clark was invited to the event, as were top targets Jaden Bradley, Cason Wallace, Shaedon Sharpe, Nick Smith, Brandon Miller and Sadraque Nganga, though they were not able to attend due to injury, visits or other conflicts.
As for those in attendance, No. 1 overall prospect Jalen Duren is the headliner, and he certainly backed up the hype on day one with a 16-point, 10-rebound, 2-block performance in his team’s 81-72 victory to open the event. The 6-foot-10 forward finished the day shooting 7-10 from the field and 2-2 from three in an all-around performance that had scouts and evaluators in attendance oohing and aahing from start to finish. Flying in for putback slams with his head above the rim, pinning shots on the backboard in transition and bullying the opposition in the post with his absurd 230-pound frame, it’s easy to see why Duren is viewed as the most NBA-ready prospect in high school basketball. And if he’s knocking down 3-pointers with confidence and consistency the way he did on night one, look out.
Duren is teaming up with 2022 five-star guard Zion Cruz, who picked up early Kentucky interest last year, along with 2022 five-star guard and El Paso, TX native KJ Lewis and 2022 four-star guard Rickie “Pop Pop” Isaacs. Cruz finished with 18 points on 8-13 shooting to go with three rebounds and two assists in the win, while Isaacs added 14 points (4-5 3PT) and Lewis finished with eight points (3-4 FG) and five steals.
Duren’s squad took on 2022 five-star guard and UK target Keyonte George, who finished with eight points on 4-10 shooting to go with three rebounds and two assists. While the 6-foot-4 guard didn’t have his best shooting night, he still impressed as a lead ball handler, controlling the pace of the game and never forcing the issue in the half court or in transition. Known as one of the top pure scorers in the class, George’s shot mechanics are solid and he was comfortable getting to his spots at all three levels. The Lewisville, TX native included the Wildcats in his final list cut back in May, with Kentucky joining Texas, Baylor, Kansas and Oklahoma State.
George’s teammate, 2023 five-star forward Baye Fall, also impressed with his skill and length en route to 12 points (6-10 FG) and four rebounds in the loss. The 6-foot-11 big man is rail thin – his listed 215 pounds is generous – and will need to add weight, but he had several smooth finishes in transition and was comfortable with the ball in his hands. Fall wasn’t close on any of his attempts from deep (0-3 3PT), but did show touch on turnaround mid-range jumpers. He’s picked up early offers from Arizona, Baylor, Georgetown, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas and Memphis.
Day one closed out with a head-to-head matchup of Kentucky frontcourt targets in 2022 five-star center Dereck Lively II – easily one of my favorite prospects in the class – and 2022 four-star center Vincent Iwuchukwu.
Lively, a 7-foot-1 center out of Bellefonte, PA, is one of the fastest-rising prospects in the class and has quickly become a top priority for John Calipari and the UK coaching staff. One of the top opening night standouts, he finished with a team-high 20 points on 10-13 shooting to go with seven rebounds and two blocks in a 100-86 loss. Drawing comparisons to former Kentucky star Willie Cauley-Stein, the five-star prospect boasts incredible length and is a force on the defensive end of the floor, blocking and altering shots both inside and on the perimeter. Offensively, he finds easy scoring opportunities as a lob catcher and putback specialist, but is also working to expand his game as a jump shooter. Duren is the top frontcourt prospect in the nation, but the gap between him and Lively is not significant. The true seven-footer has true top-10 potential, no matter what the current rankings tell you.
As for Iwuchukwu, he finished as the top point scorer on night one, finishing with 26 points on 11-21 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and two assists. The 7-foot center got a little trigger-happy and shot selection was poor at times, but his high motor and nose for the ball on the glass allowed for several easy clean-up scoring opportunities inside. Iwuchukwu is active on the defensive end of the floor and instincts are there, but he tends to get too aggressive at times looking for blocks and falling for pump fakes. Length and athleticism is clear.
Among other early standouts, 2023 five-star prospect and Chicago, IL native J.J. Taylor is an absurd athlete with solid shooting touch, throwing down several eye-opening dunks and finishes in transition. The versatile 6-foot-8 forward finished with 11 points on 5-8 shooting to go with two rebounds and one assist in his debut performance. He’s an early name to watch for Kentucky fans.
Dillon Mitchell, another quick riser in the class of 2022, added eight points on 4-5 shooting to go with two rebounds and one block. The versatile forward is an elite perimeter defender and impressive athlete, earning offers from the likes of Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Illinois, Miami (FL), Ohio State and Tennessee, among others.
UK is also in early contact with 2022 center Adem Bona, who finished with eight points on 4-9 shooting to go with five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal.