The Cream of the Crop Top 30 All-Star Game at the 2017 Pangos All-Midwest Frosh/Soph Camp was a well-played affair and greatly helped the overall profile of the top participants. The game came down to the wire and was settled when Chicago’s Adam Miller came up with a field goal with 22 seconds remaining. He was among the standouts in the top all-star game along with teammate Tyler Beard and a third guard from Chicago named Ahmad Bynum. One sophomore (Michigan’s Isaiah Jackson) and freshman (Wisconsin’s Patrick Baldwin) were named co-MOPs of the camp, while it’s not hard to get excited about the future of two promising eighth-graders in attendance.
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By Ronnie Flores
As is the case with many showcase events, play during camp games at the Pangos All-Midwest Frosh/Soph Camp in La Grange, Ill., got a bit lackluster at times. This was particularly ture for the elite talent when matched up with other young players who weren’t quite as gifted. Playing down to the level of competition is something gifted young players must learn not to do in any setting, so it was refreshing to see the level of play dramatically rise up during the Cream of the Crop Top 30 All-Star game designed for the camp’s elite prospects.
Fittingly the game came down to the wire after the White Team had opened up a sizeable lead in the second half. Trailing by three-points with just under thirty seconds remaining, the Black Team had a chance to tie the game, but an errant 3-point attempt led to a lay-up in transition for 6-foot-4 sophomore (2020) guard Adam Miller of Morgan Park (Chicago) to give the White club a five point (92-87) lead in its eventual 92-89 victory.
Miller, a physically strong off-guard with a variety of offensive skills, finished with 13 points, three assists and two steals for a White Team that had a balanced scoring attack. Other statistical standouts for the winning team included 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Katrell Raimey of Olathe East (Olathe, Kan.) with 12 points, 6-foot-5 sophomore power guard Chris Grubbs of Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.) with seven points and four rebounds and team MVP Tyler Beard, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard from Whitney Young (Chicago) who put on an excellent all-around display of skill to finish with 13 points, four rebounds and six assists. Grubbs and Beard likely helped their overall evaluation the most out of the White Team standouts with their all-star game performances.
Statistical standouts for the Black club included skilled 6-foot-9 sophomore forward Even Brauns of Regina (Iowa City, Iowa) with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists, physical 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Ty Foster of Lincoln (Denver, Col.) with 10 points, 6-foot-1 sophomore guard D.J. Steward of Fenwick (Ill.) with 15 points and 6-foot-1 freshman (2021) guard Ahmad Bynum of Simeon (Chicago), with 13 points. Steward and Bynum, the latter who was named team MVP, led the Black Team comeback with their excellent offensive play in transition and defensive instincts and pressure. Bynum is a confident shot maker and Steward was arguably the fastest player in the open guard at the camp and also displayed the ability to rebound the ball.
Named camp co-MOPs were two forwards, one a freshman who helped the White Team to victory with nine points and two rebounds and a sophomore who actually didn’t have the opportunity to play in the top Cream of the Crop game. The talented freshman was 6-foot-8 Patrick Baldwin of Hamilton (Milwaukee, Wis.), who was one of the top 25 talents at the same camp last year as an eighth-grader and left no doubt he’s one of the best overall freshman in the country with his multitude of skills, excellent footwork and feel for the game. Baldwin is also an excellent passer in both the open court and the half court set with a mix of Ben Simmons and Kyle Kuzma in his game.
Isaiah Jackson, a 6-foot-8 sophomore forward from Old Redford (Detroit) wasn’t able to participate in the top all-star game, but had already made his mark with his athleticism and shot blocking ability. He was a standout for The Family 15U on the EYBL circuit and still has a great ceiling for improvement in terms of physical strength. When Jackson fills out, he could develop into a legitimate McDonald’s All-American candidate.
Remember These Names
Kamari Lands and A.J. Casey were the only two eight-graders (2022) to earn a spot in the Cream of the Crop Top 30 all-star game. Not only were they deserving of selection and showed they belong, they were arguably two of the top five overall performers in camp based on skill level and production. The eighth-grade duo is that good.
Lands, a 6-foot-6 forward from Indianapolis, already has an advanced feel for the game and knows how to find his spots in the half court. It’s still early in the evaluation process, but it’s hard to imagine there are five better eighth-graders around the country than this talented combo forward. As for Casey, he has a big reputation in hoops-crazed Chicago and to say the city’s basketball powers would love to have his services is a gross understatement. Casey showed well for the winning white club in the top all-star game because of his activity level. He finished with seven points and four rebounds.
Keshawn Williams Shines
At last week’s All-South Camp, there was a bit more depth in terms of overall talent and plenty of players had legit arguments to be included in one of the two all-star games or be bumped up from the second game to the top one. At this week’s camp, however, there was clear separation between the two games. It was clear the selection committee put together by camp director Dinos Trigonis had picked the 30 best players in camp for the top game with few exceptions.
The one player who had first game talent and separated himself from the pack in the second game was 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Keshawn Williams of Bloom Township (Chicago Heights, Ill.). Williams had a standout game with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field, 5-of-5 shooting from the line while adding two steals. Williams’ quickness stood out and he also displayed a nice crossover dribble.
Williams played for the Black club while the game MVP for the winning White club (73-62) was 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Xavier Bell of Andover Central (Wichita, Kan.) with 11 points and five rebounds.
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