Pangos All-West Fr/So: New Faces Emerge!

The 2022 Pangos Frosh/Soph Camp series got underway with the West being the first of four stops across the country. This year, a plethora of fresh faces emerged at the regional underclass-oriented camp that began 20 years ago in the West. There was an abundance of talent on display in the 2025 and 2026 classes at McBride (Long Beach, Calif.), but one special player stood out among the pack.

Each year at the Pangos Frosh/Soph Camps, some of the nations’ best young talent is on display as they begin their journey to playing at the highest levels of the game. The fall calendar has heated up in recent years and with more high school team events seemingly every weekend across California and the West, it was a wait-and-see approach to event organizers as to how many of the region’s top ninth and tenth graders would be in attendance.

The talent pool actually turned out to be one that impressed overall, with a good group of wing guards and talented scoring forwards. When the dust settled, however, the best overall player by a healthy margin turned out to be a player well known to West Coast scouts. That player is 6-foot-6 sophomore (2025) small forward Tounde Yessoufou of St. Joseph (Santa Maria, Calif.). The native of Benin was last year’s Cal-Hi Sports State Freshman of the Year after averaging 26.4 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 2.1 spg and 2.9 bpg for the CIF Central Section’s open division runner-ups and is vastly improved since the 2021-22 season ended.

Yessoufou has always been powerful and quick around the basket, but he’s expanded his game with an improved handle and deep range. He also a good outlet passer and offensive rebounder who is simply too powerful for anyone in his class on the West Coast to handle. He had a 36-point performance (including six 3-pointers) in the final set of camp games on Saturday night and ended the two-day event on Sunday with a game-high 28 points (to go along with eight rebounds) to lead the Black-jersey team to a 119-113 win over the White-jersey team in the Cream of the Crop Top 30 Game reserved for the event’s top performers. Yessoufou was about as simple a choice for camp Most Outstanding Player as there has been in the event’s 20-year history.

Abundance of Breakout Performers

Yessoufou was not only the camp MOP; he was also the Top 30 game MVP. Joining him as the game MVP was 6-foot 2026 (freshman) combo guard Rashod Cotton of Modesto Christian (Calif.), a high school team with the talent level to begin the 2022-23 season FAB 50 ranked. Even though Modesto Christian returns its roster en masse from a team that captured the CIF NorCal open title, it’s hard to envision Cotton not cracking the rotation and getting considerable minutes. He’s that good. Cotton is wired to cause havoc on the offensive end with his ability to slash, shoot, and break down defenders. Cotton also had the best crossover among the camp’s 197 participants, both in transition and in the half court, using it to blow by or create space for an open shot. He finished the Top 30 game with 17 points and four rebounds for the White-jersey wearing club.

This series of fall showcase camps has served as a national coming out party for a plethora of high caliber young players such as Trae Young (South) and Evan Mobley (West). Cotton was among those who wasn’t well known coming in among the West’s top scouts, but surely is now. That group included 6-foot-4 2025 wing Isaac Carr of Central Catholic (Portland, Ore.), 6-foot-2 2025 Caleb Versher of St. Bernard (Playa del Rey, Calif.) and his high school teammate Tajh Ariza, a 6-foot-6 2026 wing guard with vision and game to boot, 6-foot-8 2025 Juju Ervin of North Central (Spokane, Wash.), 6-foot-6 2025 Tae Simmons of Heritage Christian (Northridge, Calif.), 6-foot-1 2025 Noah Bendigner of Juan Diego Catholic (Salt Lake City, Utah), 6-foot-3 2026 Jalen White of Clark (Las Vegas, Nev.), 6-foot 2025 Braden Moore of Yuma Catholic (Yuma, Ariz.), 6-foot-3 2026 Caleb Newton of Birmingham (Van Nuys, Calif.), 6-foot-5 D’Andre Harrison of Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.) and 6-foot-6 2025 Marco Varani of Bellevue (Wash.). Every player in that group (and perhaps a few more) are now firmly entrenched in the minds and scouting reports of the West’s top evaluators and made a favorable enough impression to make one of the camp’s two all-star games.

Westmoreland Heads Lead Guard Pack

College coaches at all levels desire a talented and dependable lead guard. It’s been the most important position on the floor for many years at the collegiate level. Many programs play their two best guards and don’t assign labels to them. “Combo guard” is a popular term since the point guard is required to shoot and score in today’s game, with the true lead guard a harder commodity to come by. Finding a true lead guard at this camp was no different, as the pickings were slim. Likely the best one of the lot was 5-foot-10 2026 Rodney Westmoreland III of Dougherty Valley (San Ramon, Calif.).

Westmoreland is a true set-up, pass-first guard with a steady handle, vision, an unselfish demeanor and leadership skills. He can also keep defenders honest with his change of pace ability and perimeter shot. Westmoreland’s game is a blend of two terrific collegiate point guards of the 1990s: NCAA tournament hero Tyus Edney of UCLA and Dajuan Wheat of Louisville. Westmoreland obviously doesn’t know too much about those two smallish point guards, but he has a great mentor and is a student of the game.

He is the apprentice to high school teammate Ryan Beasley, a 2023 guard and one of the better returning players in California. Westmoreland told Ballislife.com he’s excited for his rapidly-approaching freshman season.

“I’m really looking forward to it, as I’ve been training hard with the team,” Westmoreland said. “At this camp, I truly think I could have done more. If I could have got the ball a bit more, I would have got others involved more and it would make others look good and me look good.

“As far as who I emulate on offense, it’s Kyrie Irving. Defensively, I really study what Kobe Bryant did. As far as mentally, I try to have that Kobe and Jordan mentality on the floor.”

Some of the camp’s other top true lead guards included 6-foot-1 2025 Nick Jefferson of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.), 6-foot-2 2026 Julius Price of St. Joseph (Santa Maria, Calif.) and 6-foot-1 Zyon Harris of Clark (Las Vegas, Nev.).

Harris also falls into the category of players deserving to participate in one of the camp’s two Cream of the Crop games who wasn’t selected. Others in that group include 6-foot-3 2025 Austin Unegbu of Poly (Long Beach, Calif.), 6-foot-4 2027 Terrance Murphy Jr. of Antioch (Calif.), 6-foot 2025 Dominic Bolton of Laguna Hills (Laguna Beach, Calif.) and 6-foot-2 2026 James Carraway of Vanden (Fairfield, Calif.)

Some of the most productive players in camp which didn’t fall into one of the above mentioned categories were a group of strong wing forwards who scored at will and were relentless in their offensive attack. Arguably the two most productive front court players in the entire camp (if you categorize Yessoufou as a big wing guard) were Simmons and 6-foot-6 2025 Kellen Hampton of Moreau Catholic (Hayward, Calif.). Simmons is a warrior around the basket and punishes defenders with his athleticism and frame, while Hampton has improved his ball skills and was the camp’s second most prolific scoring threat. Three other front court players who stood out include 6-foot-7 2026 Brannon Martinsen of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), 6-foot-8 2026 Maximus VanLaningham of Woodcreek (Roseville, Calif.) and 6-foot-5 2026 Andre Gomez of Grant (Portland, Ore.).

Some of the event’s best long term prospects include Ariza (the son of former NBA forward and 2003 high school All-American Trevor Ariza of L.A. Westchester), Varani, White and 6-foot-6 2026 Maximo Adams, a fast-twitch forward who should make an immediate impact at Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.).

Ronnie Flores is the national Grassroots editor of Ballislife.com. He can be reached at ronnie@ballislife.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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