NORWALK, Calif. — The second night of a camp setting is when everyone is supposed to have settled in, right?
The opening night jitters have faded and dudes get back to being dudes, picking out the spots in which they’re most successful, while getting their teammates involved.
Saturday at Cerritos College for the Pangos All-American Camp was like that for some guys, namely class of 2017 point guard Quade Green.
Green, who hails from Neumann-Goretti in Philadelphia, is a tough and physical guard who whips the ball around the “yard” with decisive vision.
Quade Green is of the true point guard mold.
The 6-footer has all the passes: skip and pocket off the pick-and-roll, look-ahead on the break, look-off in the half-court, and the simple, yet oh-so effective, two handed chest pass into the shooting pocket.
Green scores it well, too. He gets to the rack off the bounce where he can finish with power or finesse, shoots it well from the free throw line, and can knock-down the mid-range pull-up.
Green and his team were down 20 at one point in the final game of the night, but he, along with 2017 shooting guard Ethan Thompson, willed the squad to a comeback victory.
Speaking of Thompson, the rising senior at Bishop Montgomery has been playing well all weekend at Pangos All-American.
I’ve watched Thompson at length over the last few years, and while most know him as a pure scorer, which he is, his hellacious defense is what has continually impressed me.
Ethan Thompson is known for his offensive prowess, but his defense is what sets him apart.
Thompson is smooth at 6-feet-4 with good body control, footwork, and, of course, a pretty shooting stroke, but he’s also tough as nails as a defender and rebounder and an underrated passer, because, perhaps, he isn’t flashy enough for some.
Another guy who doesn’t play with much flash but is an absolute monster is 2017 wing Michael Porter.
The 6-foot-9, 210-pounder has the uncanny combination of size, skill, athleticism, fundamentals, feel and a high basketball IQ.
Michael Porter is as skilled and versatile as they come.
Porter got where he wanted when wanted on Saturday with his mid-range game being his bread-and-butter. He has remarkable footwork between 13-17 feet, utilizing his pivot foot to create space for feathery fade-away jumpers or step-through’s toward the rim.
Guard-play was at a premium Saturday and Trae Young out of Norman North high school in Oklahoma was one of many who played well.
Young is a player, whom in my view, has the unique combination of being a pure scorer with true point guard vision.
In a head-to-head match-up with the above-mentioned Green, Young ripped a right-to-left crossover and kissed a lefty-floater off the glass.
And before that, the 6-foot-2 Young was sniping from Chino Hills-like 3-point range. He keeps his head up on the break, surveys and makes sound decisions with the ball.
For as good as Young was in the evening, 2017 point guard Trevon Duval got the best of him in the early session.
Duval is as talented as they come: lightning quick and strong, elite passer when he wants to be, and a guy who can really defend when engaged.
He had all of that going in the afternoon.
Duval got away from the dribbling exhibitions and back into the strengths of his skill-set. He distributed early in the game to help his team to a big lead and then locked-up on Young late which led to a handful of steals and easy finishes on the other end.
More guards of note:
Blake Harris (above), 6-3, 2017, Word of God (NC): In constant attack mode, tough to stop when he gets downhill in transition, great body control when getting to the rack, a bit flashy with his passing, but has good vision.
Jose Alvarado, 6-0, 2017, Christ the King (NY): Toughness-personified, steady and heady, high basketball IQ, plays to his strengths and doesn’t try to force things outside of his comfort zone.
Brandon Williams, 6-1, 2018, Crespi (CA): Elite three-level scorer, great lift on his jumper, explosive speed in the open court, breaks quickly on lazy passes for steals and easy buckets.
Chuck O'Bannon, 6-5, 2017, Bishop Gorman (Vegas): O'Bannon rarely has a made basket that hits nothing but net. His shooting stroke is one of the best out west and he can do it with deep range from 3-point-land or with his mid-range pull-up.
While it might seem like camp settings favor guard play - which is slightly accurate - there were plenty of forwards who had good moments Saturday, led by 6-foot-10 Deng Gak.
Gak is so fluid and bouncy it looks like he’s floating above the hardwood. He gets from half-court to the rim in no more than four strides and his soft hands allow him to catch and dunk everything.
Class of 2017 Jarred Vanderbilt of Victory Prep in Houston is one of those players who has an impact in every way imaginable. He’s 6-feet-8 with long arms, mobility and court vision. He can rebound and push like a point-forward, finding teammates with look-ahead passes on the break.
IMG Academy (FL) 2018 forward Emmitt Williams has a frame much like Vanderbilt’s, but he’s a pure energy/motor guy who defends and rebounds at a high level. Most of Williams’ buckets will come off of offensive rebound put-backs and that kind of dedication to the offensive glass is something you can’t teach.
The frame of 2018 forward Miles Norris can also be categorized under "things you can't teach." Norris has always looked the part and has now started to turn the corner into playing the part. His night game Saturday was the best I have seen him play. He was completely engaged, hit a couple outside jumpers and had a handful of big time dunks.
Six-foot-9, class of 2017 center Theo John of Champlin Park (MN) high school is one of those hard-hat type of guys. He won’t blow you away with athleticism, but his combination of strength, touch and will make him an extremely difficult cover.