Playing on the King James 17U team with at least eight other Division I prospects, including Duke commit Luke Kennard and Ohio State commit A.J. Harris, can make it hard to stand out at times. Cleveland big man Derek Pardon made a good impression over the weekend at the Nike EYBL event in Hampton by understanding and fulfilling his role as a true low post presence for King James.
At 6-foot-8 with long arms and a wide frame that hasn't filled out yet, Pardon sought physicality in the paint and was a strong area rebounder that found position on both ends of the court. On the defensive end, he used his length to "wall-up" on post scorers and did a good job of challenging shots. In a viewing against The Family, he had 11 points and eight rebounds on 5-of-8 shooting from the field. A game before that, he had six blocks against Baltimore Elite, and is averaging 2.8 blocks through 12 games in the EYBL.
Pardon's willingness and understanding of how to play his role alongside other star players comes in large part from playing with 2015 five-star prospect Carlton Bragg, who is rated as the No. 8 player in the country by Scout, during the high school season at Villa Angela – St. Joseph High School.
"I try to do things that other people won't do," said Pardon. "If we need a rebounder, I'll rebound; if we need blocked shots, I'll block shots… anything that we need, I'll bring."
Offensively, Pardon showed some good touch from the low-post and the midrange. He has a nice go-to post hook move, and for the most part he uses his body well to shield the ball from defenders when operating around the basket. He's shooting 58.9 percent from the field in the EYBL, with many midrange jumpers mixed in, and he also made his only 3-point attempt of the spring.
While Pardon has worked on his shot and wants to show it off to coaches on the grassroots circuit, he also understands that he makes his impact in the paint by playing physical. With very few young players embracing their role as a power post player, Pardon's self-awareness is refreshing.
"Anywhere they need me, I can be there," he said. "My jump shot has improved, so I think I can score inside and outside and be more versatile on offense, but I'm willing to do whatever the team needs."
Xavier currently tops the list of schools that have offered the Ohio big man, but more high majors have started to call. In addition to Xavier, he holds offers from Pittsburgh, Dayton, Northwestern, Fordham and Kent State, but says Michigan State is the newest school to start showing interest.
Coach Mack and his staff have put in early work on the Ohio prospect, and have already established a good relationship with him.
"I talk to them all the time," said Pardon. "They're really good guys. I like them a lot. They're definitely one of the schools recruiting me hardest right now."
Pardon doesn't have any visits planned for June yet. It's still somewhat early in the recruiting process for the young big man, but he will be seen plenty during July when the coaches are allowed back out. With the buzz he's started to create this spring, expect the attention to only increase this summer.