By Joe Henricksen

Plenty of young talent on display at Pangos Camp

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Beware! Read with caution!

That warning label should go before any story highlighting young basketball players, many of which have yet to play a single minute of varsity basketball or have just one year of high school under their belt.

Today, we read a tweet, blog or story on young prospects blessed with some basketball ability at an early age and the nice little player becomes an undeserved prodigy. They're not all phenoms, you know. Very few are, in fact. Remember, as the Hoops Report warned you days ago in this column, we may be waiting awhile for the next true "Big Thing" in Illinois prep hoops.

So attending any all-star type of camp where players are thrown together for what is basically five-on-five, pick-up basketball is cause for concern when tossing around superlatives.

But with that understanding, the 2013 Pangos All-Midwest Frosh/Soph Camp this past weekend in LaGrange did showcase the top in-state talent in the Class of 2016 and 2017, with a few Class of 2018 prospects sprinkled in.

Here are some individual player storylines the City/Suburban Hoops Report took from the Pangos Camp.

THE BEST IN 2016: There is no debate right now who the best prospect in the state of Illinois is in the Class of 2016. Simeon's Zach Norvell, the combo guard who is closing in on 6-4, continues to impress. Whether it was with his play this past summer with Mac Irvin Fire on the AAU circuit, watching him in open gym with his Simeon teammates or in an all-star camp setting like this, Norvell continues to be at ease playing against older competition and is typically a notch above all those players his own age.

What you love about Norvell is that he's always the player impacting each and every game he plays. His size is such an advantage as a big-bodied guard with outstanding shooting range. Has the height and offensive awareness to see the floor and make an impact, even without blazing speed or elite athleticism.

OVERLOOKED IN 2016: While the City/Suburban Hoops Report has had Nick Robinson among the top five prospects in the Class of 2016 since the day he entered high school, few have talked much about the 6-5 forward from Kenwood. But Robinson is blessed with that alarming upside you envision all coming together at some point. And when/if it does, Robinson could end up as a 6-7 or 6-8 skilled forward with that pass/handle/shoot combination. Will his breakout season be sooner or later?

STILL TOO YOUNG, BUT OH WELL ...: The Hoops Report reluctantly highlights players who have yet to step foot in high school, but after watching young Marquise "Kezo" Brown again, it's warranted. He's just a couple of months into 8th grade, yet Brown continues to show why he's the most talented 8th grader in the Chicago area at this point in time.

The 5-11 guard impresses with his off-the-dribble explosiveness and attacking style with an excellent crossover and change of pace dribble. He brings competitiveness and tenacity to the floor. Plus, the kid has a clue how to play, even at this young age. As you would expect with any young teen, Brown has a long way to go in his development, but he's a pure talent. It would be surprising to find Brown playing anywhere other than a loaded Simeon program a year from now.

ST. RITA TALENT PIPELINE: Coach Gary DeCesare's St. Rita basketball program will be among the top half dozen teams in the preseason rankings. For starters, there is the senior duo of Northwestern recruit Vic Law and guard Dominique Matthews. With the junior trio of star Charles Matthews, point guard Armani Chaney and 6-8 Myles Carter, the Mustangs have some staying power for the next couple of years. But DeCesare also has a solid group of young talent in the pipeline, including 5-9 sophomore Malik Hall and freshman shooter Paul Kingsley, the younger brother of Scott Kingsley, who graduated from St. RIta last year and is playing at Fairleigh Dickinson.

But the best of the young bunch is 6-2 freshman Te'mon Elijah Green, who grabbed the Hoops Report's attention with his play at the Pango All-Midwest Camp. Big and strong for a player at his position and for his age, Green showcased various tools as he knocked down perimeter jumpers and used his size to his advantage.

SKYLER NASH READY TO BE COUNTED ON: He's not going to be asked to carry a huge load, but with the departure of big-time wings Joseph Toye and L.J. Peak, who both transferred out of Whitney Young, 6-3 sophomore Skyler Nash will be asked to carry a bigger load than expected this winter. With the way Nash has played, it appears the sophomore is set to provide some offensive punch for a team that will be built around 6-11 Jahlil Okafor and rely heavily on seniors Paul White and Miles Reynolds. Nash, who is evolving into a versatile scorer with a solid frame, is among the top five prospects in Illinois in the Class of 2016.

BEST YOUNG TALENT: Although the best young talent in Illinois, 6-9 Jeremiah Tillman of East St. Louis, wasn't in attendance, every other top talent from within the state in 2016 and 2017 was on the floor at Pangos. And the top talent in those two classes combined begins with this trio: Simeon sophomore Zach Norvell, Hinsdale South's 6-9 sophomore Brock Benson and 6-1 point guard Nojel Eastern, who is just a freshman at Evanston. All three were on the floor together Sunday afternoon in the final round of scheduled games, with Norvell the most consistent and impressive.

But an all-star setting like this is no friend of a true big man like Benson, who showed a soft touch around the basket and then stepped out to knock down a three-pointer. And Eastern was a trooper playing despite the fact he broke one pinkie and dislocated the other. But I absolutely love Eastern's feel for the game, presence and demeanor.

REVIEWS OF OTHERS: It's always interesting, somewhat entertaining even, hearing and reading what some national evaluators have to say about our Illinois talent after one or two glimpses. As the Hoops Report has said so often, it can't imagine scouting the country as a national evaluator and seeing so many players so few times.

YOU CAUGHT MY EYE: The Hoops Report notebook was filled with notes attached to young prospects who had their moments -- some big and some just enough to be noticed. Here are a few other individual player tidbits taken from the Pangos All-Star Camp.

Brian Bowen, Saginaw (Arthur Hill). An out-of-state prospect the Hoops Report can easily rave about and sing the praises of as a super smooth and skilled 6-6 guard who has received some early buzz. It's legit and well deserved. Bowen, who is just a freshman, was the best looking prospect at the camp and will be a high-major recruit.

Joshua Thomas, Simeon. An aggressive and rugged guard who uses his body and strength to get to the basket and finish at the rim. Thomas, a 6-2 sophomore, could evolve into a key piece off the bench for the defending Class 4A state champs. He's tough, strong and his offensive game continues to develop.

Bol Bol, Olathe, Kan., (St. Paul). The resemblance was eery. Then the name struck you. You couldn't help but notice the similarities between this long, skinny 8th grader who's already 6-5 to his father, the late Manute Bol. The son of the former NBA player who, at 7-7, remains one of the tallest players in NBA history, is a very promising prospect.

Manny Patterson, North Lawndale. For a kid just entering high school, the 6-7 freshman is a physically gifted specimen who is active, runs the floor and has tools to work with. Aside from the obvious when eye-balling Patterson, what excites you about him are the strides he's already made since watching him this past summer.

Nick Rakocevic, St. Joseph. The Hoops Report loves capable shooters. And when they're a legit 6-8 with range out to the three-point line, all the more reason to be impressed. Rakocevic, who is just a sophomore, will be a vital piece for coach Gene Pingatore as he builds around junior guards Glynn Watson and Jordan Ash.

Ethan Meeker, Galesburg. The 5-11 sophomore guard from Galesburg will catch your eye with his skill level (an outstanding passer) and shooting ability. The kid knows how to play.

Charlie Moore, Morgan Park. He's still young. He's still little. But the 5-8 sophomore can go get you baskets.

Alonzo Chatman, Morgan Park. This may have been the most eye-catching performance the Hoops Report has seen from the early-hyped 6-6 sophomore in quite some time. If he can play with consistency and productivity, the undersized 4-man will be a key figure in helping coach Nick Irvin's Mustangs repeat in Class 3A. Chatman had his moments in the Pangos Camp.

Trey Mack, St. Ignatius. Each time you watch this 6-1 lefty guard you leave the gym saying, "I like that kid." This freshman plays hard, with a sense of urgency and is capable of knocking down shots with a pretty advanced skill set for a freshman.

Nate Kennell, Metamora. The 6-5 sophomore is STILL one of the most efficient shooters in the state of Illinois, regardless of class.

Terrell Phipps, Al Raby. Clearly a new name on the 2016 radar as the unpolished 6-7 forward is active, bouncy and impacted a stretch here and there with his length.

Carleton Williams, West Aurora. If coach Gordie Kerkman's Blackhawks have any visions of winning a third straight sectional title next March, this raw 6-8 sophomore will need to make an impact. Again, he's raw, but the size and potential are there to develop over the course of this upcoming season.

Antonio Williams, Proviso East. There is a surplus of talented guards at the Maywood school, with this sophomore perhaps the least recognized among returning talents in Jevon Carter and Kailin Fisher, along with promising freshman Mahir Williams. But the 5-11 Antonio Williams has a chance to be a disruptive force with his explosive athleticism.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on October 20, 2013 8:35 PM.

Sorry, but next 'Big Thing' isn't coming anytime soon was the previous entry in this blog.

Whitney Young's Miles Reynolds chooses SLU is the next entry in this blog.

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