The second day of the 2017 Pangos Jr. All-American Camp separated the very best from the rest of the pack, and three special seventh graders and 23 eighth graders were chosen for the Best of the Best All-Star Game. Six-foot-2 John Christofilis and 6-foot-2 Devin Askew were the most impressive performers in the top all-star game, and lead their team to victory in the process. Six-foot-8 eighth grader Pape Momar Cisse of Fairmont Prep (Anaheim, Calif.) was named the overall camp Most Outstanding Player.
Westminster, Calif. — Youth players are getting more attention than ever on the grassroots circuit and are also more media-savvy than ever before. The elite players know when the spotlight is on them and many know all the right things to say — while their body language might be saying something else.
Still, for players 11 to 15 years old, it’s refreshing to see them humbled and eager to gain knowledge and experience that will help their development down the line. It’s even better when the best players at an event feel that sentiment. That was the case for 6-foot-8 2021 prospect (eighth grade) Pape Momar Cisse at the conclusion of the 2017 Pangos Jr. All-American Camp. He was named the event’s Most Outstanding Player for his play and production throughout both days. With his left-handed offensive repitriore, length and skill level both facing the basket and in the post, Cisse drew raves from the media and scouts in attendance with some pretty strong comparisons thrown around.
Cisse was compared favorably to Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) standout junior Marvin Bagley III, to former UNLV and NBA forward Keon Clark and former NBA Sixth Man of the Year and two-time high school All-American Lamar Odom. The Senegal native has that type of game and is one of the most talented big man prospects to ever play in this annual event. Despite the lofty comparisons and his breakout performance, Cisse’s comments were the essence of what this type of camp is all about for grassroots newcomers.
“It was my first time being at a camp like this and what I learned is there is room for me to getter better,” Cisse said. “I had fun and I realized basketball is family.”
Cisse sees how quickly friendships form and the comradiere that players and coaches share and took it all in like a sponge. Despite his inexperience and pedestrian statistics in the Best of the Best All-Star Game (eight points, you rebounds), he was a deserving MOP and the camp’s best overall long-term prospect.
Christofilis, Askew Shine In Top All-Star Game
Two teammates that stepped up and made favorable impressions among the elites in the Best of the Best All-Star Game were a pair of 6-foot-2 wing guards: John Christofilis and Devin Askew. The duo was productive and efficient and led their Navy team to a 80-65 victory.
Christofilis, a 2021 prospect from Seattle Academy (Seattle, Wash.) and Askew, a 2021 from Anaheim, Calif., were dominant with their scoring and play-making and proved to be too much for White team defenders to handle. They also created turnovers and scoring opportunities for teammates with throw-ahead passes and with their decision-making on the fast break. The Blue Team raced out to a 48-34 halftime lead, as it was most effective on the shift in which those two players were on the floor together.
Askew finished with 14 points and six assists, a few of them of the spectacular variety, and was named game co-MVP with teammate Obinna Anyanwu, a 6-foot-6 2021 forward from Pathways Academy (San Diego, Calif.). Anyanwu wasn’t as consistent during camp as Cisse, and they were purposely pitted against each other on opposite teams. With his power scoring moves around the basket and ability to finish in transition, Anyanwu didn’t disappoint, netting a team-high 21 points, including a 3-pointer, to go along with six rebounds.
Christofils finished with 11 points for the winning Navy team. Other standouts for the Navy club were 6-foot-7 forward Justin Ebor, a 2021 out of Wright (Calabasas, Calif.), and 5-foot-8 guard Devon Barnes, a 2021 out of Ft. Irwin (Los Angeles). Ebor scored eight points around the basket and Barnes hit two 3-pointers and played solid defense.
The MVP for the White squad was Malik Thomas, a 6-foot-4 power guard out of Alta Loma, Calif. He was relentless in his drives while relishing contact and did his best to keep the White club in the game. He hit four 3-pointers and finishing with 23 points. Thomas was purposely matched up with Askew and while both were impressive, Askew was a bit more efficient in his overall production. Nobody, however, was as efficient as Christofils and he made a strong argument to be the No. 2 overall player in camp.
Other White team standouts included Myles Phillips, a 5-foot-10 2021 guard from K12 International (Seattle, Wash.) and Thomas Notarainni, a 6-foot-2 2021 prospect out of Pathways Academy (San Diego, Calif.). Phillips impressed with his ball-handling in traffic and set up plays and finished with seven points, while Notarainni was solid on the glass and with his scoring opportunities, finishing with six points.
The White Team picked up its defensive intensity drown the stretch and cut its deficit to 68-57 with five minutes to go, but when Askew and Christofilis returned for their final line shift, the Blue team closed the game and didn’t let its lead slip under double digits.
Three standout seventh-graders (2022) were chosen for the Best of the Best All-Star Game: 5-foot-9 Trejon Williams of DaVinci School of the Arts (Portland, Ore.), 5-foot-7 Ben Shtolzberg of Porter Ranch (Calif.) and 6-foot-3 Tyler Linhardt of Kings (Shoreline, Wash.). All three of them participated with the White Club and Shtolzberg likely had the most impact with his passing and heady play. He was credited with four assists.
Other standout seventh-graders (who were not chosen for the top All-Star Game) included: 5-foot-5 Samaje Morgan of Roosevelt (Eugene, Ore.), 5-foot-5 Niko Jones of Granite Ridge (Fresno, Calif.) and 5-foot-9 Dondrae Fair Jr. of St. Andre Nativity (Portland, Ore.). The best of the lot among the six-graders (2023) were D.J. Delacey, a 5-foot-11 forward from Franklin Academy (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and Jalen Lewis, a 6-foot forward from Bentley (Oakland, Calif.).
Whereas Cisse enjoyed his newfound surroundings, Askew summed up the event from the perspective of a youth camp veteran and gave a good explanation of the ethos of today’s middle school elites.
“I wanted to get to know the competition out there while getting some recognition. I also wanted to get to know people, like the media who I will be dealing with in the future.”