Gershon: Pangos Stars of the Future, Day Five

CERRITOS, Calif. - The Pangos Stars of the Future gave an opportunity to see some promising West Coast prospects in action, including 2016 shooting guard Johnny McWilliams, Jr.

McWilliams taking own path

After playing collegiately as a tight end at USC, tight end Johnny McWilliams was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the 3rd round of the 1996 NFL Draft.

McWilliams played four seasons for the Cardinals before finishing his career with the Minnesota Vikings in 2000.

With McWilliams' success as a football player, it would make sense that his son, Johnny McWilliams, Jr., would follow suit.

But the 6-foot-5, 180-pound San Marcos (Calif.) 2016 shooting guard is following his own path.

"My dad played high school basketball and was really good; he got me into it," McWilliams, Jr. said. "Basketball is my first love.

"He actually didn't want me to play football. He got a lot of injuries throughout his career; a lot of head injuries. I played [football] but he wanted me to stop and focus on basketball."

On Sunday at the Pangos Stars of the Future event in Cerritos (Calif.), McWilliams was impressive, knocking down three-pointers off the catch and pull, finishing above the rim and scoring with his midrange pull-up and floater.

With McWilliams' size, athleticism and skill set, he has the opportunity to be a high major prospect a year from now if he keeps improving.

For now, Vanderbilt, San Diego State, UNLV, USC, Utah, Arizona State, Arizona and California are all showing attention.

Preston hoping to stay local

One of the top prospects nationally in 2017 is 6-foot-8, 220-pound power forward Billy Preston from Redondo Beach (Calif.) Union.

The face-up forward can really shoot midrange jumpers, but with his size, length, athleticism and passing ability, he's a guy who brings a lot to the table as a prospect.

Like many kids from the Southern California area, Preston grew up a fan of the local schools.

"I always grew up as a UCLA and USC fan," Preston said.

You can expect Preston to receive national offers before it's all said and done, but those schools may end up with an edge.

"I'd like to stay in L.A.," says Preston.

Other Pangos Standouts

* Ethan Thompson, a 2017 shooting guard from Torrance (Calif.) Bishop Montgomery is normally a knockdown shooter and while he didn't hit at the same percentage as usual, he did get a couple to fall, while making some terrific passes to teammates. He's a very good prospect.

* Jordan Roberts is a 6-foot-5 wing from Bakersfield (Calif.) Ridgeview and the 2017 prospect thrived in transition, getting to the basket, finishing well and scoring off misses on the offensive glass.

* Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei's 2017 wing J.T. Okonkwo has a strong frame with wide shoulders and used his athleticism to get to the basket and finish above the rim. He also showed his skill by knocking down a three-pointer.

* Corona (Calif.) Centennial's Jalen Hill was an absolute rebounding machine, grabbing one board after the next on both ends of the court. The big time 2017 prospect also passed well and scored around the rim.

* Keep an eye on Tydus Verhoeven, a 6-foot-6 forward who is the cousin of Stanford junior post Grant Verhoeven. The lefty has the size, length and frame that suggests he has a lot of upside.


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