The 2021 Pangos All-East Frosh/Soph Camp at League Bound Sports Complex (Mr. Laurel, N. J.) was a large affair with 220 plus campers from 18 states looking to prove they are among the best young high school basketball players in the East Region. If was also a rather large affair because of the amount of quality big men in attendance.
It’s been stated by many basketball aficionados and experts the utilization of the 3-point shot has fundamentally changed the way the game is played and diminished the importance of the traditional big man. Post players who stay in the interior, crash the boards and patrol the painted area are seen as less valuable recruiting commodities than big men who stretch the floor, play the pick and pop game and shoot the deep perimeter shot.
If some of the best players in the class of 2024 and 2025 who participated on the Pangos Frosh/Soph Camp circuit are any indication, that trend could be rapidly changing. There still is room in the game for traditional big men and they have tremendous value. That was clearly evident at the Pangos All-East Frosh/Soph Camp in New Jersey over the weekend.
Luke Bamgboye, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel (Essex, Md.), started off the camp by sending shots back, whether it be from driving guards or other forwards trying to challenge him at the rim. His length, timing and motor were all on display throughout the two-day event. He was an easy selection to the Cream of the Crop Top 30 All-Star Game for the camp’s top performers and carried over the high octane interior play from his three camp games. He was named co-MVP of the game courtesy of his 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and two block shots.
The interior play was hot and heavy, but in a camp setting such as this one for young players, guards usually dominate game action. Fittingly it was a traditional pick-and-roll play from point guard Elliot Cadeau to forward Emmanuel Okitondo that decided the close game. Okitondo’s driving bucket with six seconds remaining proved to be the winning points in the Black jersey-wearing team’s 108-106 victory over the White jersey-wearing unit in a game that was tied 47-47 at halftime.
Cadeau, a 6-foot-2 sophomore (2024) from 2021-22 preseason FAB 50 ranked Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.), was only able to participate in the event for one afternoon. He made the most of it and was arguably the top guard in attendance with his combination of strength, speed, skill and confidence. Cadeau, who was invited to the 2021 Pangos all-American Camp in Las Vegas this past summer, finished the Top 30 game with nine points and five assists for the winning Black club to cop co-MVP honors with Bamgboye.
All the guards selected for the Top 30 game were deserving, but almost all of them had trouble at one point or another in the game with getting to optimal spots on the floor and making positive things happen for themselves or teammates. The interior defense, length and closing of gaps were that good. As a unit, the guards did not perform to the level of play displayed in their camp games. They had their moments and there were a plethora of quality long-term prospects nonetheless, including 5-foot-10 2024 Edward Rezendes of East Providence (R.I.), 6-foot-1 2024 Alex Chaikin of Trinity Episcopal (Richmond, Va.), 6-foot-4 2025 (freshman) Barrett Loer of St. George’s (Newport, R.I.), 6-foot-3 2025 Wilkin Paulino of Springfield Commonwealth Academy (Springfield, Mass.), 6-foot-1 2024 Tahaad Pettiford of Hudson Catholic (Jersey City, N.J.), 6-foot-3 2024 Delamortay Jones of Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) and 6-foot-4 2024 Jahlil Bethea of Archbishop Wood (Philadelphia, Pa.).
The leading scorer of the lot was Loer with 12 points for the winning Black club. Pettiford had eight points, four rebound and a couple of clutch steals down the stretch for the White club after taking some ill-advised shots early. Dylan Harper, a 6-foot-6 2024 prospect from Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) also played well for the White club, finishing with 13 points, including two second half 3-pointers, and six rebounds.
With a game-high 21 points, 6-foot-6 2024 forward Ian Jackson of Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) was named MVP for the White club. He displayed a fine all-around game and had his stroke going from the outside, nailing three 3-pointers and also scoring on a variety of drives. Similar to Cadeau, Jackson is expected to be a key cog for a high school team that crecked the 2021-22 preseason FAB 50 National Team Rankings.
Some of the other big men who played well in a camp where many were deserving to play in either all-star game were the White Club’s Kany Tchanda, a 6-foot-9 2024 prospect from Concord Academy (Concord, N.C.), with 12 points, and 6-foot-9 2024 prospect Eli DeLaurier of Miller School (Charlottesville, Va.) with eight points. Tchanda, in particular, helped himself tremendously with his play during the Top 30 all-star contest.
For the Black club, Jack Nieradko, a 6-foot-9 2024 prospect from Kingswood Oxford School (West Hartford, Conn.), was one of the top players in the event based on his skill and touch around the basket, to go along with a high end motor. Six-foot-8 2024 prospect Jason Schofield of Avon Old Farms (Avon, Conn.) also played well.
When it was all said and done, however, it was an athletic and powerful three-man who took home camp Most Outstanding Player honors for his consistent high level of play. That 2024 prospect was 6-foot-6 Isaiah Abraham, who served noticed that he should be seriously considered for any credible national rankings in the sophomore class. Abraham is an athletic downhill driver with a terrific frame and good skill. He can keep defenders honest with the perimeter game and explode by defenders for powerful dunks and acrobatic finishes. He had eight points in the all-star game, but his impact was not just derived from scoring, but his all-around feel and presence. His performance makes him a shoo-in to be selected for next year’s 2022 Pangos All-American Camp, which is ultimately the goal for all campers in attendance.
Even though the top all-star game came down to a field goal by Okitondo, the lackluster team play from the guards early on threatened to make the Top 30 game a flop compared to how well the Cream of the Crop Top 60 All-Star Game was played. In fact, it was the most well-played Top 60 game in recent memory. There was little sulking from not being selected to play in the top game and excellent intensity, defense and a pass-first mentality. Perhaps the inspiring pep talk from long-time talent scout Van Coleman had something to do with the participant’s approach.
The amount of quality prospects in the Top 60 game was a testament to the camp’s depth. There was three players who really stood out in the Black club’s 107-70 victory over the White club, in particular power guard Zion Walker, a 6-foot-2 2024 prospect of The Burlington School (Burlington, N.C.). The other two were 6-foot-3 2024 Justin Menard of Loomis Chaffe (Windsor, Conn.) and 6-foot-3 2025 Omari Moore of Hudson Catholic (Hudson, N.J.).
Walker used his strength and driving skill to score 20 points for the wining club. Menard netted 17 points, while Moore finished with 13.
The White club MVP was 6-foot-6 2024 Jeremiah White of Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.), one of the top-rated teams in the country in the preseason FAB 50. He had 18 points and two blocks, while big man Badara Diakite, a 6-foot-10 2025 pivot out of Northwest Catholic (West Hartford, Conn.), proved to be one of the best long-term prospects in attendance.