Sunday, May 31, 2015

Pangos: DeLaurier and Heron deliver
CARSON, Calif. -- It's not unusual at major events for players to fall into the trap of thinking that they have to go one on one to show they belong. Saturday at the Pangos All-American Camp, there was no shortage of players running the "do him" offense but rising seniors Javin DeLaurier and Mustapha Heron showed that sound basketball and high-running motors can be just as effective.

DeLaurier and Heron deliver

After spending the past few days in Colorado Springs at the USA Basketball 16U Trials, it was expected that the style of play at Pangos would be a bit more loose and less organized. That's just the nature of exposure camps. Luckily, just when things looked to be getting a little bit too loose, rising seniors Javin DeLaurier and Mustapha Heron were there to save the day.

DeLaurier's jump shot has improved significantly.
One of the fastest rising players in the class of 2016, the 6-foot-8 Montgomery showed why he will soon be making a big rise up from his current slot of No. 117 in the 2016 Rivals150. Already No. 22 in the class, Heron lived up to his billing as one of the top shooting guards in the country.

Since he's one of the hottest prospects in the country, we'll start with DeLaurier. Everything starts with his motor and relentless will to compete on both ends of the floor. He seems to always win 50-50 situations on loose balls, runs the floor and plays defense on every possession.

While his motor is certainly a strength, we have to be careful to not overlook how much DeLaurier's skills have improved. A forward who can play the four or the three, DeLaurier has significantly improved his jump shot, passes very well and is in constant motion when he doesn't have the ball.

There's still plenty of room to add strength to DeLaurier's lean frame and he doesn't seem to be anywhere close to reaching his ceiling. Thanks in large part to his play with Team Loaded Virginia during the two live periods in April, DeLaurier is now swimming in scholarship offers.

Texas, Florida, Baylor, Vanderbilt, Xavier, Cincinnati, Wake Forest, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech have all offered. He says that he will look to cut things down to at least eight after July and then decide on his five visits from there.

As for the style of play in camp, DeLaurier said that he didn't travel across the country to play pickup ball.

"I've been to a lot of camps like this and it can get a little out of control," DeLaurier said. "In that type of setting I feel like nothing gets achieved. There is no point in coming all the way out here to play like that so I make sure to play the game the right way."

Heron was also busy playing the game the right way.

Known since early in his high school career for his ability to overpower opponents, Heron is still a power player. The southpaw takes and delivers bumps while finishing plays and is always going full speed. Now, he's added a strong skill package to go along with his power and athleticism.

Heron says that he loves James Harden's game and you can see some similarities in style. He loves to pull-up for jumpers, is a crisp passer off the bounce and he hits the glass like a bigger player. Most notably, Heron has improved his game when heading to his off, right, hand and he seems to have much more trust in his jumper.

The way he played in April and the way he played on Saturday at Pangos, Heron is going to be under serious consideration for elevation to five-star status and his spot in the top 25 of 2016 will be safe when rankings get updated in the latter part of June.

McCoy not satisfied with improvement

The physical transformation of near seven-foot center Brandon McCoy immediately catches the eye of anybody who hasn't seen him in a bit. This time last year, the No. 36 player in the class of 2017 was all arms and legs.

McCoy is still lean, but he's added plenty of muscle and now checks in at a lean and mean 230 pounds.

Perhaps most importantly, McCoy hasn't lost any of his quickness around the rim and he can still run the floor like a smaller player. Now that he's stronger his power moves to the rim have a lot more impact and he's capable of pushing people out of position as a straight up defender and he can pick his way through traffic to block shots from the weak side.

McCoy has filled out and now weighs 230 pounds.
Though he has clearly improved, McCoy isn't at all satisfied with where he's at and thinks there's much more room for improvement.

"The strength helps me out tremendously," he said. "I feel like I still have a lot of room to get even stronger. My footwork has gotten much better but I think I have lot of room to improve in everything. People tell me that I'm getting better but I don't think I'm near good enough. I'm trying to be the best player in the country."

A native of the west side of Chicago who moved to San Diego as an 8th grader, McCoy listed offers from Arizona, UCLA, Oregon, Connecticut, Michigan State, Kansas and California. Though they haven't offered yet, McCoy said that Kentucky has been picking up its contact with his coaches.

More Saturday notes

Class of 2017 shooting guard Mitchell Ballock didn't let an injury get in the way of a good Saturday night showing. Playing with an injured left (his shooting arm) shoulder, Ballock went away from his jump shot and focused on making plays off dribble. He found teammates for shots, hit some floaters and still managed to make a few deep jumpers despite an altered shooting release.

Nobody is ever going to have to push 2017 point guard C.J. Roberts to be aggressive. A strong, fast and athletic six-footer, Roberts tries to get his feet in the paint off the dribble as often as he can. Capable of taking bumps and finishing at the rim, Roberts also showed off a floater and hit a few jumpers.

Things have really started to pick up for class of 2016 wing De'Riante Jenkins. The South Carolina native who plays his high school ball in Florida has solidified himself as a Rivals150 player and deserves consideration for a bump from three to four-star status. A slashing, off the dribble attacker with 6-foot-5 size and athleticism, Jenkins was making plays at the rim all night. Jenkins said that he picked up an offer from Indiana right before he left for Pangos. Other recent offers have come from Utah, Charlotte and Rhode Island. Clemson and USF are also onboard with offers while programs like Providence, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, and South Carolina are closely monitoring his progress.

Arizona commit T.J. Leaf looked like the top 10 prospect that he is in the class of 2016. The 6-foot-10 stretch four man was very aggressive attacking the basket and finished on several athletic, twisting shots in the paint. He can stroke the jumper, has a body to build on and looked like he was having a lot of fun in the up and down setting.

Often times the guy feeding Leaf the ball was point guard Bryce Aiken. The No. 130 player in the class of 2016, Aiken might even be a bit smaller than his listed 6-foot and 160 pounds, but he doesn't play like somebody who lacks size. He's a tough kid who shared the ball and knocked home open looks.

Class of 2017 shooting guard Ethan Thompson is a smooth operator. The 6-foot-3 sniper from Gardena (Calif.) Bishop Montgomery backed up his No. 49 in his class ranking and then some. Thompson has deep range on his jumper and even better he focuses on taking smart shots. A skinny kid, he's deceptive off the bounce because of changes of speed and willingness to take a bump. His older brother, Stephen Thompson, finished at No. 50 in the class of 2015 and is on his way to play at Oregon State where their father is an assistant coach. Nothing is certain in the recruiting world, but the Beavers would appear to be the team to beat for the younger Thompson as well.

There will be more focus on 6-foot-7 forward Mario Kegler on Sunday, but the glimpses got on Saturday were impressive. Kegler has really gotten into great shape and has elevated his skill level to match his strength and athleticisim.

Speaking of strength and athleticism, 2016's No. 26 player Rawle Alkins had way too much of it for anybody trying to guard him. The 6-foot-4, 210 pounder got to the rim at will and threw down one dunk after another. He might have taken a jumper or two but it didn't seem like he ever had to finish from outside of two feet of the rim.

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