The 2017 Pangos All-South Frosh/Soph Camp concluded with the most competitive Cream of the Crop All-Star Game we can recall in the 17-year history of the event. The reason it was so competitive? It was Texas vs. every other of the 12 states represented and in the end, the U.S. team pulled out a close win where everybody benefitted from how hard the two teams played.
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The Pangos Frosh/Soph Camps are designed to showcase the individual skill level of the campers in attendance. The four camps held across the country each fall designed for many of the nation’s top sophomore and freshman players are offensive-oriented and perimeter players tend to dominate the action. You often won’t find a ton of post entry passes or extensive offensive sets. The goal of showcasing individual talent sometimes leads to all-star games that only reinforce what was already learned over the course of the weekend.
The ending of this year’s Pangos All-South Frosh/Soph Camp was completely different. The Cream of the Crop All-Star game designed for the camp’s top 30 players as selected by event director Dinos Trigonis and respected national scouts in attendance turned out to be the most competitive game of the event. In fact, it was likely the most competitive Cream of the Crop All-Star game in the history of Pangos’ grassroots events and the nature of the game was the difference maker in many of the key evaluations of the camp’s elite players much more than usually is the case.
When the teams were selected, it just so happen there were 15 players selected from Texas high school programs and 15 out of staters. It was quickly decided to pit the Texas players vs. those from outside the Lone Star State and it led to an ultra-competitive game that gave the fans at The Mac Athletic complex in Lewisville, Texas more than their money’s worth.
The Lone Star State team was much bigger and physical in nature and the game was definitely a physical affair. The United States team was smaller, but had the quicker and more skilled group of guards. At the beginning of the game, it looked like the Texans would just be too dominant inside and on the boards for the U.S. team to keep up with, as it jumped out to a 17-9 lead. A line shift, however, ignited a 30-18 U.S. run, as the visitors led 39-35 at halftime and rolled to a 81-74 game that was close to the very end.
The game went back and forth in the second half with both teams holding the lead and matters weren’t decided until 6-foot-4 sophomore (2020) Caleb London of Conway (Ark.) hit a baseline jumper to give the U.S. team a 73-64 lead with 1:45 remaining. With 1:15 remaining, the game clock was reset to 2:00 minutes and the game went to a one-and-one foul situation to keep it interesting. That case of home-cooking, however, didn’t deter the U.S. team to the delight of their raucous cheering section.
Leading the charge in the backcourt for the victorious U.S. team was creative 6-foot-1 sophomore point guard Gerald Doakes of North Little Rock (Ark.) and 6-foot-1 sophomore lead guard Chanse Robinson of Lincoln Prep (Ruston, La.). The complexion of the game changed when that duo had the ball in their hands. The Texas team simply couldn’t keep Doakes in front, as he consistently got in the lane and finished plays by scoring or dishing off for easy buckets. Doakes simply was the fastest and quickest player with the ball in his hands and was one of the few guards in attendance whose ability to break down defenders didn’t curtail in half court situations.
Doakes was named game MVP after finishing with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists. Robinson, who hit a timely 3-pointer to help the U.S. team regain its lead and some clutch baskets down the stretch, finished with 10 points and three rebounds.
Although his team didn’t win the game, the most impressive overall individual player in the Texas vs. Everyone affair was 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Greg Brown of Vandergrift (Austin, Texas). He dominated action early by blocking three shots and kept his team in the game with his big-time scoring ability and zest on the boards. As he did in camp games, Brown scored on a variety of spectacular power dunks and acrobatic moves around the basket. He finished with game-highs of 16 points and 13 rebounds, in addition to the highlight blocks.
Cade Cunningham, a 6-foot-6 do-it-all dynamo from Bowie (Arlington, Texas) also concluded his camp in spectacular fashion. The sophomore wing was relentless in his offensive attack, whether it was pull-up jumpers, long-range bombs or getting to the front of the rim under control. Cunningham has just the right blend of coordination, strength and athleticism to give even the toughest defender total fits. He finished the Cream of the Crop affair with 12 points, five rebounds and three spectacular assists.
Even though the Texas Team had the most impressive performer and arguably the best overall player in camp, the U.S. team played spectacular enough on the defensive end with their intensity, pressing and trapping to record the victory. Among those who contributed heavily on the defensive end and gave the Texans fits with their quickness included 6-foot sophomore Khalen Robinson of Bryant (Ark.), 6-foot-3 sophomore Matthew Murrell of Whitehaven (Memphis, Tenn.), 6-foot-6 sophomore Chris Moore of West Memphis (Ark.), and 6-foot-5 Moses Moody of North Little Rock (Ark.). Robinson finished with two steals, Murrell also was credited with two steals, Moore had seven points and three rebounds and Moody made a difference with relentless ball pressure in crunch time.
Each team actually had one player who technically should have played for the opposite team, but they didn’t want to join forces with whom they considered the enemy in this intense contest. Sekou Kalle, a 6-foot-10 freshman (2021) from Apsire Academy (Louisville, Ky.), is a San Antonio, Texas product. He played for the Texas team and even though he didn’t play his best in the all-star affair, he still finished with four points and four rebounds. He was one of the best long-term prospects in attendance.
Donald Ghostone, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward at Grand Prairie (Texas), hit two big 3-pointers for the U.S. team. The Arkansas native recently relocated to the Lone Star State and was adamant about playing with his comrades from the Razorback State.
Other Pangos Standouts
The Cream of the Crop Top 60 Game wasn’t a matchup based on geographical boundaries and wasn’t quite as competitive. As one can guess, the final score also wasn’t as close as the Top 30 game, as the White Team built a sizable advantage early and rolled to a 97-71 victory.
The game MVP and most impressive player was southpaw point guard Jackie Johnson III, a 6-foot freshman from Wichita North (Wichita, Kan.). The smooth and confident guard nailed four 3-pointers and dished off a handful of assists for the winning club.
Had the Black club came out victorious, the MVP likely would have been Grant Bulmash, a 6-foot-4 sophomore wing from Greenhill (Addison, Texas). Bulmash combined a nice blend of instinct and intensity to capture the attention of the scouts in attendance. The blue-collar worker finished with eight points and six rebounds, a few with were of the spectacular variety.
Another standout for the white club with his offensive ability was 6-foot-6 sophomore Evan Williams of Plano East (Plano, Texas). He made some nice moves and cuts around the basket to free himself loose to the tune of 12 points. Six-foot-3 sophomore Jarren Cook of Newman Smith (Carrollton, Texas) also turned in a 12-point performance.
Two eight-graders (class of 2022 prospects) also shined in the Cream of the Crop Top 60 game. From the lead guard position 6-foot Keyonte George (eight points) of Lewisville, Texas was a smooth operator whose possessed one of the best feels of any player in attendance. Shooting guard Tre White, a 6-foot-4 eighth-grader from Frisco, Texas, impressed with his passing and also had five rebounds.
There were nearly 100 prospects nominated for one of the two all-star games and we’d be remiss not to mention some of the better prospects who unfortunately just missed the cut.
Those players included 5-foot-11 sophomore Andre Howard Jr. of Lone Star (Frisco, Texas), 5-foot-11 sophomore Kendall Fair of OD Wyatt (Ft. Worth, Texas), 6-foot sophomore Sebastian Kinney of International Community School (Winter Park, Fla.), 6-foot-4 freshman Toney Green of OD Wyatt (Ft. Worth, Texas), 6-foot-5 freshman Alden Applewhite of Lausanne Collegiate (Memphis, Tenn.) and 5-foot-7 sophomore Darryl McNealy of Duncanville (Texas).
Ronnie Flores is the national Grassroots editor of Ballislife.com. He can be reached at [email protected]. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores