Stephen Zimmerman, C — I'm hesitant to list stats from this event too abundantly, because they can be extremely misleading. Case in point: Zimmerman had 12 points and nine rebounds on Friday night, a fairly ordinary outing for him in terms of numbers, but he actually led all players in both categories. He was a dominant presence last year at Pangos and jumped out to a rousing start on day one, utilizing his length and athleticism to make freewheeling plays in the open court. He doesn't run as speedily this year as last, something that has vexed the scouting world given that he clearly remains an elite prospect, but his natural filling out has made him more substantial in the post and thus there are benefits. He's the highest-ranked senior at the camp and demonstrated why in his first contest.
Paris Austin, PG — Austin carries a smattering of mid and high-major offers, but based on Friday night he clearly looks like one of the latter. He was credited with 11 points and seven assists, shooting 4-5 from the field and 2-2 on threes. Austin is quick and aggressive who does have a tendency to become wild, but his hard-charging style worked to his advantage. He's a long guard who's slightly short (5-11) for his position, so the added length helps. In addition to solid scoring ability and what appears to be a workable jump shot, he also is a fine playmaker, although he did force a few passes that either were deflected or became turnovers. But for speed and scoring alone, he may be getting slightly under-recruited.
Shake Milton, SG — My thought entering the camp was that Milton may not find great success here, given that he's more of a steady, grinder-type rather than someone who would project to explode in an individual camp setting. Well, he didn't have any troubles on Friday night, knocking down three triples and generally being a positive contributor. Milton still managed to play within himself and doesn't create as well in one-on-one scenarios as some others, but he understands court spacing very well and can put the ball in the bucket.
Horace Spencer, PF — In a perfect world, Horace Spencer would be a center. He would stand 6-11 and be a shotblocking, rebounding, dunking specialist. And he can do plenty of those things at 6-8, but he almost has to be a power forward both for a major conference program and potentially down the professional road. So, with that in mind, Spencer must become a more accomplished scorer with more skills rather than someone who can rely primarily on length and athleticism. And there are some encouraging signs that he's making big progress: He made a drive to his right punctuated with a smooth 6-foot hook that looked ready for primetime. He also competes with vigor and is an effective helpside shotblocker who definitely will be able to help on defense. He'll remain an intriguing prospect to evaluate through the summer.
Derryck Thornton, PG — One of the heralded rising junior point guards in the country, Thornton squared off against fellow Western stud Lonzo Ball — albeit not truly head to head — on opening night. Thornton didn't play his best game as he struggled to finish in the paint, but he possesses a darting quickness that makes him fearsome on penetration.
|Thornton has impressive physical tools|
He has very quick feet that enable him to change direction explosively and at times elude multiple defenders. Meanwhile, he's also a sure handler and fine passer as well. Apart from his uncharacteristic misses at short-range, Thornton definitely must address the release and accuracy of his jump shot. Even so, his quickness and playmaking make him a big-time talent with ample time to improve.
Lonzo Ball, PG — We list Ball as a point guard, but will he remain one at 6-5 as he fills out over time? The early UCLA pledge certainly fits the bill in terms of abilities; he's a terrific hit-ahead passer who also makes slick dishes on the move. Because he's so tall, he's able to explode off high screens and then simply pass over the top of opponents as he pushes forward or else release a shot in traffic far more easily than most point guards. Thanks to long arms, he actually plays a little taller than even his height. Down the road I wonder if he'll be able to defend the position, but that question won't answered until he gains weight over time and then either retains or loses some quickness. Regardless, he's a fantastically skilled 2016 product and will enter the fall as one of the country's most ballyhooed backcourt performers.
Josh Hall, WF — Far from one of the most heralded players at the camp, Hall nevertheless stood out on day one. He's a good athlete with impressive fullcourt speed who loves to race ahead in transition. He also has long arms and appears he may be able to defend either wing position. Hall already holds a few high-major offers and should continue to accumulate them over the next year.
Jonah Mathews, SG — Yet another top-50 rising junior at Pangos, Matthews is the younger brother of Jordan Mathews, who pieced together a solid freshman campaign at California this past season. Jonah plays a somewhat similar game, knocking down threes, exerting an assured court presence and generally looking the part. He was quiet statistically on Friday but seems to do a lot of little things well, in addition to making perimeter shots.