NORWALK, Calif. — I nearly didn’t make it to the opening night of the always-loaded Pangos All-American Camp.
My 9-to-5 gig as a Public Relations person, coupled with a food coma-inducing pregame meal at Lucille’s BBQ with ESPN’s Joel Francisco and GOAZCATS’ Matt Moreno, had me falling asleep at the wheel on the way to Cerritos College.
But there was no way eight hours staring at a computer screen and a pulled pork sandwich was going to keep me from the 14th edition of Pangos All-American.
The first night at Pangos is always interesting one.
Kids are flying in from all over the country, then sitting in hours of Los Angeles traffic. And even the local invitees have to deal with the concrete gridlock from LA, Orange County and the Inland Empire.
Point is, you never really know who or what type of product you’re going to get.
But one thing you can always count on is the guards from New York are always going to compete.
Isaiah Washington, 6-1 point guard out of St. Raymond’s in the Bronx, was very good last week in the Under Armour event in Garden Grove and was just as superb Friday night.
Bronx product Isaiah Washington has the instincts of a true point guard.
Washington did more scoring than he normally does, finishing with 25 points in a variety of pull-up jumpers, set 3-point shots and strong drives to the basket.
Washington has the feel and mentality of a true point guard. He advances the ball up the court with the pass, gets off the ball and sets tough screens, doesn’t pound the air out of the basketball with the dribble and is constantly setting his teammates up in spots where they can be successful.
It wasn’t all fun-and-games for the rising senior. There were a number of instances when Washington would be the only member of “Team UCLA” getting back on defense which prompted him to light-up his teammates to try and motivate them, which is something I like to see.
The other New York guard who had a splendid evening was Brooklyn Bishop Loughlin’s Keith Williams.
Williams is long, smooth and tough at 6-feet-5 with a well-rounded offensive game. He connected on a number of 3-pointers and mid-range jumpers, but is innate ability to tip-toe the sideline and score with an acrobatic finish was most impressive. He finished with 19 points
Maybe the most impressive thing Williams did all night was while he was on the bench.
Per a "source," Williams, with his team down late, told his coach that if he wanted to win, he needed to be put back in the game.
Keith Williams displayed a complete offensive repertoire on night one of Pangos All-American.
The coach didn’t put him in (due to equal playing time rotations) and they lost by three.
You’ve gotta love that kind of confidence and competitive fire.
Texas was another state which rolled out a group of guards who were ready to get after it from the opening whistle.
Crafty left-hander Jay Jay Chandler out of Cinco Ranch high school in Katy put his versatile game on display.
Chandler scored 24 (spectacular) points complete with deep 3-pointers, strong drives to the bucket and dunks in transition.
The 6-foot-4 combo guard also displayed a good feel for the game off of high ball-screen action. Chandler dragged-out his dribble and let the play develop before dropping a nice pocket pass to a rolling big-man or finding a teammate cutting along the baseline.
Jay Jay Chandler is a crafty left-handed combo guard out of Katy, Texas.
Six-foot-4 Victor Bailey of McNeil High in Austin showcased flashes of what a “power” wing should look like.
Bailey does a nice job of getting downhill in transition, and when he does that, there’s no stopping him. He used his strength and body control to finish through contact.
Local product Jordan Schakel might have turned in the most impressive overall basketball performance of the night (that I witnessed).
The 6-foot-5 Torrance Bishop Montgomery G/F scored 19 points and made a number of winning plays in “Team Cal’s” 3-point victory.
Schakel is a guy who you can always count on the play hard no matter what the setting.
He was locked-in defensively, knocked down timely 3-pointers and made high IQ plays down the stretch. He picked an opponents pocket in the latter moments of the contest, then pulled the ball out to drain time - instead of jacking up a “I’ve gotta get mine” shot - to help seal the win.
Southern California product Jordan Schakel turned in a winning performance Friday night.
In most cases, this type of camp setting lends itself to guard-heavy play, but there were plenty of big men who made their presence felt.
Six-foot-10 Kevin Samuel of RCHA in Houston was the first big to bring some intensity to the camp.
Samuel, who has coat hanger-like shoulders and a ridiculous wingspan, was contesting and swatting shots at the rim, followed by a stare-down of his victims. On the offensive side, Samuel showcased a strong pair of hands and power-finish game.
Six-foot-9 Brandon Huffman of Word of God in Raleigh (NC) displayed a high motor, great mobility and a nose for the ball on the offensive glass.
Huffman was sprinting the middle of the floor and cleaning up some garbage with offensive rebounds and beastly two-handed jams.
Charles Bassey, widely considered as the best 2019 prospect in the country, had plenty of good moments, but his basketball instincts were the most awe-inspiring aspects of his game.
At 6-feet-10, Bassey is mobile and explosive with stick-em-like hands to boot. The San Antonio St. Anthony product has high-level court awareness, evidenced by his ability to rip-through to the baseline out of the mid-post, gather, and get off the ground quickly for a dunk.