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June 7, 2006

Pangos stock raisers

Joining the top prospects from across the country at the Pangos All-American Camp in Cypress, Calif. over the weekend were several younger or perhaps lesser known players who improved their stock with solid performances.

Rivals.com National Basketball Analyst Jerry Meyer was on hand to scout all the action and breaks down the top five risers he saw at the event who helped themselves the most.

Matt Simpkins, Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian
Position: Power forward
Height: 6-foot-8
Class: 2008
A live body who has only been playing basketball since the eighth grade, Matt Simpkins appears to be coming into his own as a prospect.

He consistently played above the rim and ran the court as well as any big man at the camp. Always around the ball, Simpkins constantly impacted the play with his defense, rebounding and scoring at the basket.

Still raw with his ball skills, Simpkins did knock down some jump hooks in the post, and his delivery looked smoother as the camp progressed. He also put the ball on the floor for a couple dribbles to get into scoring range.

His shooting mechanics need work along with his other skills with the ball, but his overwhelming potential is quite evident.

Wendell McKines, Richmond (Calif.)
Position: Power forward
Height: 6-foot-5
Class: 2007
Along with Matt Simpkins, Wendell McKines played with as hard an edge as any player in the camp.

As primarily an undersized power forward with a developing small forward game, McKines consistently out rebounded and dunked over bigger players. He also finished contested power shots when unable to dunk. In the all star game he led his team with 18 points.

As far as his perimeter skills are concerned, McKines shot did not look that bad, but its arc was just too flat to consistently find the net. He did, however, do an adequate job handling and passing the ball.

The bottom line with McKines is that he is a great athlete with a competitive spirit akin to Syracuse signee Paul Harris. His skills will improve, and any high-major that passes on him, risks getting dunked on in March.

Darian Norris, Las Vegas Mojave
Position: Point guard
Height: 5-foot-11
Class: 2008
Rarely in an individual camp do you find a point guard with scoring ability focus on running his team like Darian Norris ran his at the Pangos All American Camp.

A compact and strong physical guard, Norris controlled the ball on the defensive side. He did a nice job of pressuring the ball but not giving up penetration.

Offensively, he knocked down shots when open, yet spent most of his energy on creating shots for his teammates instead of forcing the action for himself. He played in pace with his teammates and rarely turned the ball over.

A couple high-majors are on Norris' school list, but more schools should be tracking him in July.

GJ Villarino, McKinney (Texas)
Position: Point guard
Height: 6-foot-0
Class: 2009
As a 2009 prospect, GJ Villarino made the camp's all star game, and there is good reason why.

The lanky and apparently still growing left-handed point guard consistently beat his man on the dribble either direction. Once in the mid-range area, he did a superb job of finding open teammates.

Defensively, he moves very well laterally and effectively pressures the ball with his hands. Getting stronger over the next few years, however, will be a must for his defensive abilities to translate to the high-major level.

Primarily attacking off the dribble instead of shooting from outside, Villarino's ability to shoot the ball from outside is still an open question.

Justin Cobbs, Torrance (Calif.) Bishop Montgomery
Position: Point guard
Height: 6-foot-0
Class: 2009
2009 prospect Justin Cobbs was the most explosive young point guards at the Pangos All American Camp.

Strong and quick with the ball, Cobbs played with an aggressive mentality, getting to the rim and finishing and scoring off the dribble from the perimeter as well. Cobb also showed the ability to draw defenders and create scoring attempts for his teammates.

Defensively, he has the ability to smother the ball with his strength and lateral quickness. And although he is just at 6-feet tall, he has the potential to be a strong defensive rebounder.

With unquestionable high-major talent, perhaps the most important factor for Cobbs is the development of his leadership qualities as a point guard.

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