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June 5, 2012

Pangos AA: What we learned

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The 2012 edition of the Pangos All-America Camp wrapped up Sunday in California. After taking a few days to digest the information, here's a look back at what we learned during the weekend sessions at Long Beach (Calif.) Cabrillo.

Shepherd's game has blossomed

For a kid who had sat out his entire junior season, Karviar Shepherd looked pretty good playing for Urban DFW in April during the Adidas Exclusive VIP Run held in Las Vegas. Back on the West Coast for Pangos, the Arlington (Texas) Grace Prep big man looked even better. A lot better actually.

Currently ranked No. 44 in the 2013 Rivals150, Shepherd played to and even above that lofty ranking all weekend.

A skill guy with length and 6-foot-9 size, Shepherd has become a high-level mid-range jump shooter and was killing defenders all weekend from between 8-15 feet. He pivots off either foot, turns to either shoulder and always does an excellent job of squaring up to face his man.

His body will easily carry more weight and Shepherd's game is flourishing right now. He's got no favorites, but has recently visited UCLA, LSU and SMU with Louisville and Kansas unofficials in the works. Others involved include Texas A&M (where Shepherd's older brother plays), Georgetown, Oklahoma, Tennessee and more.

Martin will climb in Rivals150

One of the hotter recruits in the country has been Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep's Jarell Martin. Martin was the Pangos camp's top performer of the weekend after leading the camp in scoring and finishing second in rebounding.

After watching him earlier this spring, it was clear that Martin was going to jump from his current ranking of No. 62 in the 2013 Rivals150. Now, he looks like a guy that could very well be in the discussion for five-star status when the rankings are next reviewed.

Martin's added strength allows him to play more powerfully in the lane and he's also much more committed to making things happen at the rim first. Once he establishes himself on the low block, Martin can then face up and attack via the dribble or drain 12- to 15-foot jumpers. In transition, he's a sleek performer who gets from rim to rim as quickly as any big man in the country.

Since arriving in Baton Rouge the new staff at LSU has turned things up and Alabama, Louisville and Oklahoma State were already strong. Others taking their chances include Kansas, Baylor, St. John's, Marquette and Ohio State.

Alexander is a beast

Martin got the Rivals.com vote for top performer in camp, but he barely got it over class of 2014 monster Cliff Alexander.

The five-star big man from Chicago (Ill.) Curie was the actual winner of the camp M.O.P. award and he certainly deserved it after a weekend spent assaulting the Cabrillo gyms.

For now, he's sitting at No. 8 overall in the class of 2014 but he's put everybody ahead of him on notice that he's looking to make a move up the charts. A hard worker who plays physically, he's a throwback guy who plays a roughneck game in the lane and has started to show some skill.

Wherever he goes with the Derrick Rose All-Stars in July, there will be a crowd of college coaches.

Aussie sensation

By now, 6-foot-8 ,15-year-old Ben Simmons should have made it back to his home in Australia. The class of 2015 forward's trip to the United States wasn't a long one, but it sure was productive.

Hands down the breakout player of Pangos, Simmons would be among the elite class of 2015 American players if he went to school here. The southpaw can shoot with deep range, handles the ball creatively, is a high-level athlete and has a great base of skill.

Right now, it's looking as if there's a good chance that he eventually does make it to the U.S. to play high school basketball. As it stands, anybody who thinks they have a source in Australia is scrambling to figure out how to get him at their school.

All-event team

Shepherd, Martin, Alexander and Simmons make up the first four of Rivals.com's 10-man All-Pangos team. Here are the other six who make our list from camp.

Conner Frankamp: A scorer by nature and out of need on the high school level, Frankamp is also a high-level playmaker for others. His skill on the offensive end serves him equally well as a scorer or facilitator and he's got matching athleticism.

Dakarai Allen: Defense has to count for something at some point and there may not be a more determined perimeter defender in the class of 2013 than Allen. The California wing is also a big-time finisher in transition and is working hard to round out his jumper and ballhandling.

Jermaine Lawrence: Some will label Lawrence a small forward, some will label him a power forward. Neither side will be right, but neither will be wrong. Bottom line, the 6-foot-7 four-star is a player with athleticism, toughness and a knack for sprinting to the right place at the right time.

Anton Gill: The Louisville commitment will give you effort on each side of the floor. A good athlete, Gill has a tremendous mid-range game and plays with patience and poise.

Christian Wood: The future UNLV Rebel isn't always the easiest guy to figure out. He often settles for lounging around the perimeter to toss up three-point jumpers. That jump shooting is a very important and defined part of the 6-foot-9 four-star forward's game. But, he's long and athletic, too, and becomes a major matchup problem when he's just as active around the rim as he is shooting jumpers like he was in Long Beach.

Wayne Selden: A physically gifted guard from the class of 2014, Selden is a kid that has the versatility to play all around the perimeter. He didn't look fully healthy earlier this spring but does now and the result is a big-time pick-and-roll playmaker who can pass or finish at the rim with authority.


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