Guards/Wings Shine on Pangos All-American Opening Night
LAS VEGAS — The Hoops By Ugland blog post hiatus is over. After a couple years of retooling the website and diving into different areas of the basketball world, I figured now is a great time to start writing here again.
Sunday night marked the opening night of the 2023 Pangos All-American Camp at Bishop Gorman high school. The invitation-based showcase draws talent from across the country to perform in front of scouts, media, videographers, and, most importantly, scouts and personnel from NBA front offices.
I was able to take in a handful of games Sunday night while watching both Court 1 and Court 2 at Gorman. Here's what I saw:
Two of the biggest standouts in the 8:30 p.m. games on Court 2 came from a family that is no stranger to performing under bright lights. Vyctorius Miller of AZ Compass Prep and Mercy Miller of Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame put on a scoring clinic. The duo combined for 52 points - Vyctorius had 28 and Mercy 24 - on an impressive 19-for-29 from the field and 9-for-12 from three-point range in an 82-77 win.
The duo's ability to fill up the scoring column can be described as high volume, but relatively efficient, while each possesses the ability to knock down tough, contested shots off the bounce, hit three's off the catch and off the dribble and break down a defender in isolation and get to the rim.
The Miller tandem were the beneficiaries of having a true inside presence at the five spot. Philadelphia (PA) Archbishop Ryan big man Thomas Sorber used his strong frame and mobility to set physical on-ball screens to free guards and his willingness to roll and seal at the front of the rim was key to the team's great vertical spacing. The Georgetown-commit flashed good hands and touch around the rim to the tune of 15 points and seven rebounds.
Georgetown-commit Thomas Sorber
Jasper Johnson, a 6-foot-5 lefty out of Versailles (KY) Wofford County, did his best to match the Miller's shot-for-shot. Johnson is a crafty ball handler whose shiftiness off the dribble and ability to change direction on a dime allows him to get anywhere on the floor. Johnson had 16 points, including 4-for-7 from three-point range and added four assists in a five-point loss.
Over on Court 1, the sounds of cracks of the rim and creaking of the backboard could only mean one thing: Flory Bidunga was playing. The 6-foot-9 center out of Kokomo (IN) is one of the most efficient interior finishers in the country and his combination of physicality, motor and explosiveness is a trio of traits that led to his 14-point, 8-rebound performance on 7-for-7 from the field.
Bidunga had plenty of help in "Duke's" 19-point win Sunday night by way of 6-foot-8 wing/forward Ryan Jones of Gainesville (FL) The Rock School. Jones is kind of an anomaly in basketball terms as he doesn't have the traditional pop of athleticism or speed but his skill, pace and shooting ability makes up for it. Jones scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds, knocked down four three-pointers and showed his physicality when finishing through contact around the rim.
Hudson Catholic (NJ) guard Tahaad Pettiford was impressive in a losing effort against "Duke" as he scored a game-high 24 points on 9-for-15 from the field and 6-for-8 from distance. The Auburn-commit is a dynamic playmaker in transition and half-court settings who can get hot in a hurry with his perimeter jumper. Pettiford gets great lift on his shot and that, combined with a quick release, makes him a guy who is difficult to close out to.
The 9:30 p.m. games brought the best out of some Southern California locals in Corona Centennial guard Eric Freeny and Bellflower St. John Bosco guard Elzie Harrington.
Freeny has been a do-it-all, glue-type guy for the Huskies through his first three years of high school ball but next season will be his turn to be a first or second option and his performance Sunday night showed he's ready for that role. Freeny scored 14 points, knocked down four three-pointers and played a physical brand of on-ball defense in a win.
Harrington is one of the premier playmakers and pure basketball IQ guys that we have on the west coast in the class of 2025. His feel for the game, ability to make teammates better and timing and accurate placement of passes are uncanny. The 6-foot-5 junior-to-be is kind of in a similar category as Freeny in the one thing in his development that needs to improve the most is his perimeter shooting. Harrington scored 12 points, knocked down two three's and dished out six assists in a win.
Hudson Greer, a 6-foot-6 wing out of Austin (TX) Lake Travis, proved to be one of the better transition finishers in an event that really favors guys who get out and run the floor and play above the rim. The class of 2025 prospect has elite pop in his legs and uses it for high-flying finishes on the break. Greer finished with 21 points on 9-for-13 from the field and seven rebounds in helping his team to a victory.
2025 wing Hudson Greer of Lake Travis (TX)
Six-foot-5 wing Larry Johnson of Huntington (WV) Huntington Prep - who is likely to play at Southern California Academy in the fall - had one of the more impressive performances of the night despite the loss. Johnson is both strong and physical but also a freakish vertical athlete who can get downhill, elevate, and finish above or through rim protectors. Johnson scored 25 points on 11-for-17 from the field, including two poster dunks on drives down the middle of the lane.
Lincolnton (NC) Combine Academy wing Rakease Passmore put together one of the better performances of the evening. The 6-foot-6 wing only missed three field goal attempts in his 28-point effort. Passmore scored from all three levels of the floor and did so efficiently.
2024 wing Rakease Passmore of Combine Academy (NC)
Philadelphia (PA )Imhotep Charter point guard Ahmad Nowell impressed with his throwback game and great feel for the game. The 6-foot guard uses his basketball IQ to manipulate the defense to get to his spots and was always looking to set up teammates in position
s he knew they could be successful. Nowell is an automatic paint touch when the ball is in his hands and his willingness to pass gave the ball energy and resulted in good offensive possessions. Nowell finished with 17 points, six rebounds and eight assists with only one turnover in a win.