LONG BEACH, Calif. - There were a lot of talented prospects on display at the Pangos Sweet 16 on Sunday, including a player that U.C. Irvine stole out of nowhere in Brandon Smith.
U.C. Irvine steals one
The state of California is always going to be filled with diamonds in the rough. With over 1,300 public and more than 500 private high schools in the state, the idea of seeing even a decent percentage of all high school basketball players in California is simply impossible.
The most high profile high school basketball program in the state, Santa Ana Mater Dei, has been pumping out D-I prospects for over 30 years.
But over last year, while coaches, scouts and fans filled the stands at Mater Dei, a mile and a half down the road at Santa Ana Godinez, there's been another prospect that flew almost completely under the radar.
, a 6-foot-5, 175-pound 2015 small forward, had not only been playing for a largely unknown high school team, but until joining the O.C. Pride this summer, also a very under the radar AAU team.
"I was playing with my neighbor's travel team," Smith said. "The Santa Ana Aztecs."
Smith didn't go completely undetected. U.C. Irvine found the rising senior, correctly identified him as a player who would be a steal for the Anteaters, offered him and, two weeks ago, landed a commitment from him.
Scout.com watched Smith for the first time on Sunday at the Pangos Sweet 16 and seeing his size, athleticism, motor, ability to attack in transition, shot-blocking and upside, it's easy to see that this was a big commitment for U.C. Irvine.
"I have no idea how they found me," Smith said of Irvine. "They offered me a full ride so I figured I might as well go with them. They're local and I don't want to go too far from home."
Other Pangos standouts
commit Lonzo Ball
, a 2016 combo guard, played his normal game on Sunday, showing off some elite skills. His vision, range, size and length are elite for the position, and all of them were on display.
* Kobe Paras
, a 2016 shooting guard from Compton Magic Purple, is a long wing that made some impressive plays in transition, attacking the basket and zipping crisp passes to teammates. He played hard throughout the game.
* Compton Magic Purple has another nice player in 6-foot-7 post Michael Obindu
, a 2015 prospect who plays very hard, has a nice feel as a rebounder and passes really well for the position.
* Combo guard Kyle Leufroy
of Earl Watson
Elite was impressive again on Sunday, as the 2015 prospect got to the basket, showed his jumper, defended, valued the ball and made several impressive passes to teammates.
Magic Elite's Andre Adams
, who is reclassifying from 2014 to 2015, has made improvement from the season, playing harder, smarter, taking better shots and finishing well around the basket.
* Utah Prospects' 2015 duo of Gonzaga
commit Jesse Wade
and BYU commit Zac Seljaas
had nice games, displaying their usual array of skill, motor and basketball IQ. Both kids should be overachievers at the next level.
* Gamepoint's Khy Kabellis
has nice size, length, athleticism and vision for a point guard. The 2015 prospect has flown under the radar, but he's a nice prospect.