The senior class is taking visits, making commitments and dominating the high school basketball headlines during this recruiting season as national signing day is quickly approaching.
This past weekend, however, young, up-and-coming talent was on display and had people talking while competing at the annual Pangos All-Midwest Frosh/Soph Camp in LaGrange.
The Pangos Camp each October has been a coming-out party for some over the years and an affirmation for some of the early, big names in prep hoops.
Here are six that stood out above the rest from the Pangos All-Midwest Frosh/Soph Camp.
■ Adam Miller, Morgan Park
The City/Suburban Hoops Report already has an affinity for Miller, which is why he has been and continues to be the top-ranked sophomore prospect in Illinois. Miller is highly ranked nationally and sports high-major offers after just one season at Peoria Manual.
The 6-3 point guard, who transferred to Morgan Park for his sophomore year, showed why he’s so buzzworthy with his play at the Pangos event. Blessed with size for the position, Miller is a special talent who brings a tight handle, passing instincts, shooting and one-on-one scoring ability.
Look for Miller to take off in coach Nick Irvin’s frenetic, uptempo system while playing with Ayo Dosunmu in Morgan Park’s backcourt.
■ Ahmad Bynum, Simeon
While it’s extremely early, Bynum is arguably the most talented freshman in the state. Bynum possesses some dynamic qualities for such a young player, including a feel with the ball in his hands and pure, natural basketball ability.
He will wait his turn as veterans like Talen Horton-Tucker, Kejuan Clements and newcomer Xavier Pinson will anchor the perimeter. But Bynum is too talented and advanced not to make his presence felt sooner than later for one of the state’s top teams.
■ Reggie Strong, Farragut
There were very few freshmen who made a bigger impact last season than this precocious point guard with ball skills. Plus, Strong rates extremely high on the fun-o-meter of high school basketball players.
Strong is smooth, makes it look easy and has great imagination and creativity offensively. He plays with pizzaz.
The 6-0 sophomore, who is the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s No. 4 ranked player in the Class of 2020, boasts high-major potential. He created shots and scoring opportunities for himself at will at the Pangos Camp.
■ Tyler Beard, Young
The talented 6-2 sophomore’s role will expand greatly this winter for the defending Class 4A state champs. He hasn’t exactly gone from scrawny to brawny just yet, but his body is filling out and he’s attacking the basket with a vengeance.
Beard is quick and athletic enough to score off penetration and as a fantastic finisher in transition. He displayed it all, including an improving perimeter jumper, in an eye-opening weekend performance.
■ Bloom’s sophomore class
Coach Dante Maddox graduated all five starters from a year ago. But there isn’t a coach in the south suburbs with more returning young talent in a program than Maddox.
Bloom features four sophomores who gained varsity experience a year ago, including a trio who were on display at Pangos: 6-9 Martice Mitchell and guards Keshawn Williams and Dante Maddox, Jr..
Add sophomore point guard Donovan Newby and Bloom will be a team that will continue to get better and better.
While Maddox, Jr. showed a versatile floor game and Mitchell’s improvement continues and ceiling rises, it was Williams who really opened eyes at the Pangos Camp. The 6-2 combo guard is a solid athlete and such a threat offensively off the dribble.
■ Patrick Baldwin
No, he’s no longer playing in Illinois. But Baldwin is certainly worth mentioning as a prospect who is likely on his way to being a top 10 player nationally in the Class of 2021.
When former Northwestern assistant coach Pat Baldwin was hired as UW-Milwaukee’s new head coach in June, the state –– and Loyola Academy, where Baldwin would be attending high school right now –– lost its best basketball prospect.
Patrick Baldwin, Jr. was highlighted by the City/Suburban Hoops Report last May as the state’s best prospect regardless of class –– as an eighth-grader. Baldwin showed a little of everything in living up to that advanced hype this past weekend at Pangos. The 6-8 freshman has unique talent, size, skill and upside for a player who has yet to play a high school game.
Other Pangos thoughts …
➤Fenwick’s D.J. Steward turned it up in the Pangos all-star game on Sunday and again showed why he’s a high-major prospect and the No. 2 ranked player in the sophomore class.
Why the 6-2 Steward is so exciting as a prospect is because of what he’s already done, which is carry a heavy load as a freshman for a team that finished second in the state, and what he can still become. Steward is blessed with an enormous upside.
➤ A player who continuously impressed the the Hoops Report time and time again on Sunday was Brandon Weston. The 6-4 freshman is originally from New York City but is attending Lake Forest Academy. The big-bodied wing is certainly one of the better young prospects in the state.
Weston has time to smooth out his shooting ability and tighten up his ballhandling, but there is no denying the size, strength and talent he offers as a prospect. Weston spent last year as a freshman at St. John Military Academy in Wisconsin and is repeating his freshman year at LFA.
➤ Evanston boasts an impressive group of freshmen, including Jaylin Gibson. The 6-3 guard was on display at Pangos and impressed. The Wildkits have young talent in place with Gibson one to watch in the Class of 2021.
➤ Hinsdale South has a bonafide go-to player in Iowa State commit Zion Griffin, who is ready to shoulder a heavy load this winter. There is also a host of experienced players returning for coach Brett Moore.
However, after watching Aaron Tims at the Pangos Camp, this promising 6-7 sophomore could be the X-factor for the Hornets. Tims stood out with his length, agility, athleticism and raw upside and put himself on the radar in the Class of 2020.
➤ This year’s Niles North team is filled with talented seniors and will be one of the top teams in the Chicago area, but it was freshman Jalen Butler, a 6-3 guard, who stood out at Pangos.
➤ Demarius Splunge established himself as one of the top prospects in the sophomore class last season at Clark. The talented 6-4 wing has transferred to Orr and continued to showcase his versatility and upside at Pangos. Splunge needs to smooth out his shooting, but he’s a perimeter jumper away from becoming a real offensive force.
➤ Keep an eye on a pair of rising sophomore big men who have emerged as Division I prospects: Kenwood’s 6-7 Seryee Lewis and Lincoln Park’s 6-6 Romelle Howard. Both have bodies to build and offer considerable upside going forward.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport