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May 13, 2013
CERRITOS, Calif. - Remember that episode of Seinfeld entitled "The Pen?"
If not, well, here's and explanation and I hope it will suffice.
It was when Jerry and Elaine go down to Florida to visit Jerry's parents, and the humidity, heat and lack of air conditioning had Elaine begging for some cool air.
She also tweaked her back after sleeping on Jerry's parents bed that had a rod going right through the middle of it.
The tweak was so bad that she had to load up on pain killers which caused her to scream, "Stella!" over and over when she met Jerry's aunt Stella.
Sunday's Pangos Spring Showcase at Cerritos (Calif.) College was nearly identical to that episode.
It was extremely hot and humid in the gym, this writer experienced some mild back pain and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine) was in the building watching her son Charlie Hall.
But at no point did anybody yell "Stella!"
All exposition aside, however, the Pangos Spring Spectacular was loaded with talent from all classes and a large majority of those players came ready to hoop.
All three players had their "A-game" on display in their first contest on center court. Small was blowing by and through people on his way to the bucket for easy layups. The Huntington Beach (Calif.) Ocean View product also showed off his new and improved jumper on more than one occasion. Small has said that working on his jumper is a top priority this spring and summer, and it's clear that he has been putting in the work.
Thompson is one of the top shooters in Southern California and left no question as to why. The lanky 6-foot-3 wing out of Torrance (Calif.) Bishop Montgomery was knocking down jumpers and utilizing the defenders overzealous close-outs to pump-fake and drive to the rim either for a layup or a dish to a teammate. Thompson showed his defensive savvy as well - he has a knack for stealing inbounds passes that lead to easy layups.
Hemsley, who recently picked up offers from Connecticut and UNLV, was his usual do-it-all self on Sunday. Hemsley was hitting the three, slashing his way for layups and crashing the offensive glass. Hemsley is an underrated passer, too. The La Verne (Calif.) Damien product made certain to find open teammates when the defense offered help when he got into the lane.
All three players will be taking an unofficial visit to San Diego State next week.
A pair of 2016 prospects had impressive days while playing on the same squad. Freshmen Max Heidegger of Encino (Calif.) Crespi and Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills (Calif.) are both known for one thing - their ability to score - and not a thing had changed on Sunday.
Heidegger had defenders on skates with his quick crossovers, nifty hesitations and defense splitting dribbles that would leave many claustrophobic. The 5-foot-10 freshman burst onto the scene back in December at the Jim Harris Memorial Tournament of Champions when he dropped 28 in a six-point loss to Compton, and some of his shots on Sunday had me flashing back to his breakout party.
Heidegger has no conscious when it comes to scoring, and he doesn't need one because more often than not, he's making the correct basketball play. Heidegger was hitting his patented fade-away three's and attacking the rim with "no regard for human life" as famed NBA announcer Kevin Harlan would say.
It was good to see Ball outside his QJZ comfort zone and playing with a different crop of players. Regardless of who he was playing with, the 6-foot-4 freshman point guard still put on a show. Ball has a ridiculous set of handles with speed and quickness to match. What's even more ridiculous is his three-point range - Ball can shoot and hit from anywhere on the floor.
Redondo Beach (Calif.) Redondo Union teammates Leland Green and Jeremiah Headley were a duo once again, and they looked good in their respective roles.
Green, a 2016 point guard, is one of those players that is naturally gifted with stellar athleticism and an even better frame. Green is a powerful point guard who has great blow-by speed in transition and off the dribble. The 6-foot-2 lead guard is a high IQ player who can score it in a multitude of ways and also dish it with some flair.
Headley is a smooth scoring wing from the class of 2015. The 6-foot-5 swingman can attack off the dribble, but also thrives as a slasher and as someone who crashes the offensive glass. Headley has shown an improved stroke from the outside and produced some head-turning athleticism with a number of powerful dunks.
Here's a list of other standout players by class:
Class of 2014:
Kyron Cartwright, PG, Compton (Calif.) - Cartwright is a shifty left-handed pure point guard who has the basketball on a string. The 6-footer played well on Sunday, showcasing his unreal handle, and a nice mid-range game as he hit on several fade-away jumpers in transition. Cartwright has a great feel for the game and made the correct pass more often than not.
D.J. Ursery, Wing, Encino (Calif.) Crespi - Ursery's game is as smooth as they come. The lefty has a silky jumper that looks to require no effort. Ursery has good size at 6-feet-4 with a vast wingspan. The junior can score from anywhere - he was finishing at the rim, knocking down mid-range buckets and hitting nothing-but-the-bottom from behind-the-arc.
Class of 2015:
Nuwriyl Williams, G, Santa Monica (Calif.) - Williams was one of the more athletic players on display. The 6-foot-2 guard played with a lot of bounce and confidence in his step. He also threw down a handful of dynamic dunks.
Rogers Printup, G, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran - Printup is a lead guard with great size and feel for the game. The 6-foot-4 Printup has a knack for finding the ball, whether it be bringing it up the floor as a point guard, or diving to an open spot in the lane for the finish.
Class of 2016:
Daron Henson, Wing, Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany - Henson continues to get better by the game. He already has a great frame, standing at 6-feet-7 and tipping the scales at 175 pounds, and you can add a good set of hands and top-level athleticism to that frame. Henson is still raw offensively, but hit a couple of very nice step-back jumpers with good form. He was also attacking and finishing with a soft-touched runner. Henson has the foot speed and wingspan to be a lockdown defender at any level.
Class of 2018:
J'Raan Brooks, F, Abeka Academy, San Diego (Calif.) - It's tough to assess a class of 2018 talent, unless that class of 2018 player is talented - and that's the case with Brooks. The 6-foot-7 seventh grader has a natural ability and feel for the game of basketball and doesn't back down from anybody. Brooks is very fluid up and down the court, can finish with a soft touch around the rim, and has good form on his outside shot. He is very coordinated for someone his size at his age, probably due in large part to him being a highly sought-after baseball prospect on the mound.
Any Pangos event is sure to produce some good basketball, and the Spring Showcase didn't veer off that hypothesis.