The Pangos Frosh/Soph Camp tour continued with the Midwest edition just outside of Chicago in La Grange, Ill., and with approximately 200 campers in attendance, there were talented players at various positions and sizes. When it was all said and done, however, it was two diminutive scoring point guards that stole the show and actually shut the gym down momentarily with their one-on-one battle. We give our take on it and talk about some of the camp's top standouts such as Isaiah Jackson, Darius Hannah, Kamari Lands, Patrick Baldwin, and Ahmad Bynum.
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Young players attend events such as the Pangos Frosh/Soph Camps to get exposure and to be evaluated by national scouts. As talent evaluators and members of the media, we stress to campers to respect the game and play it the correct way, or attempt to, the best they can. We strive to cover the standouts at grassroots events and give our audience a feel of what transpired in entertaining fashion.
What adults tend to forget at times, however, is kids still want to be kids, meaning they want to have fun and create memories, especially if free of restraint from adults. What happened on Saturday evening at the Park District of La Grange was a great example of that.
Two small and offensive minded-point guards, 5-foot-7 Kevin "Boopie" Miller and 5-foot-4 Kendall Martin went at it in a classic playground-style "battle" after "Boopie", a freshman (2021) from Morgan Park (Chicago), went through the legs, ripped a crossover in front of Martin and hit him with a step back jumper that got the other campers and crowd into a frenzied state. The play actually shut down the game after players rushed the court to mob Miller.
Before that transpired, there was a growing crowd as the two guards exchanged scoring blows while attempting to guard one another. After order was restored and play resumed, Martin, a freshman (2021) from Fenwick (Oak Park, Ill.) got the crowd going again with long range threes from near half court. Eventually the camp game got back to normal, but the buzz about the battle continued as the players left the court.
Our Take On Camp Battles
When players go one-on-one to try to out-do each other, it usually leads to zero ball movement and unnecessary dribbling, two things that generally hinder an individual evaluation. Miller and Martin are guards of small stature and need to be ultimate team-first, pass-first lead guards who play bulldog defense in order to become quality high school guards (considering both play at two of the perennially better programs in Chicago) and to have a chance to play at the next level.
The battle definitely wouldn't be positive from an evaluation standpoint, but it also happened organically, the sequence was not scripted. It's when it's scripted, or thought of strictly for the cameras and social media, that we have a problem with. The other campers and their experience has to be of importance when two players dominate the ball and a camp game for an extended period of time.
Two other major factors also need to be mentioned: Sometimes the unexpected can and will happen, as it did when "Boopie" and Martin went at it, and fans love the small guard who can handle the rock. There is just something about the small man in basketball who makes things happen on the court that makes fans go crazy.
While the small guys at camp got the attention of fans and the other players, it was skilled players with a bit more size so to speak that got the attention of veteran scouts in attendance. Here are five that stood out to us:
Patrick Baldwin (Hamilton, Milwaukee, Wis.) 6-8 2021: This combo forward has a multitude of offensive skill that had scouts looking for comparisons. He resembles Los Angele Lakers standout rookie Kyle Kuzma with his body type and footwork, but his passing skill had veteran scout Frank Burlison mentioning Ben Simmons, the 2016 No. 1 NBA Draft choice.
Ahmad Bynum (Simeon, Chicago) 6-1 2021: The nephew of former Crane of Chicago standout Will Bynum (Arizona/Georgia Tech/NBA) has many of the same physical and mental toughness of his uncle. Bynum knows the game and was shooting at a high clip on Saturday.
Kamari Lands (Indianapolis) 6-6 2022: He's only an eight-grader, but oh my, is he skilled! Lands can handle the ball and usually makes the correct basketball read. He executed a pick-in-roll on the left side elbow extended with another forward that was a thing of beauty in timing and execution.
Darius Hannah (Milwaukee Academy Science, Milwaukee, Wis.) 6-7 2020: One of the best long-term prospects in attendance displayed the ability to run the floor and quality defensive instincts. His game and body frame reminds us plenty of former high school All-American and NBA player Brandon Wright out of the University of North Carolina.
Isaiah Jackson (Old Redford, Detroit) 6-8 2020: Athletic forward had two standout camp games and is one of the better finishers in attendance.