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June 3, 2012

Simmons, Martin shine Saturday at Pangos

LONG BEACH, Calif. Every year, the Pangos All-American camp serves as the launching pad for one player or another's recruitment. This year is no different, and the player who made the biggest splash on Saturday was a 15-year-old sophomore-to-be, Ben Simmons, who traveled all the way from Australia.

Simmons takes advantage of big stage

Before he took the floor on Saturday, hardly anybody in the gym had ever heard of Australian Ben Simmons. By the end of the day, the near-6-foot-8 small forward from Australian Institute of Sport in Melbourne had created some kind of buzz.

Arguably the top prospect in camp, the slender southpaw displayed a game that is mature beyond his years.

A fine ball handler who easily creates shots for himself off the dribble, Simmons has feathery touch and deep range on his jumper. In transition, he's a high-level athlete with superior body control who can finish at the rim or make last-second dumpoffs to teammates. He has some post game and will rebound along with everything else.

Rumors are flying that Simmons will end up in the States for his sophomore year, but he denied those rumors and said that for now the plan is for him to return to Australia. That may be the public plan for now, but signs are pointing toward him ending up in the States, where he looks like he will be one of the premier prospects in the class of 2015.

Martin strong again

Continuing what has already been a strong Spring, Jarell Martin was strong on Saturday.

Check that, the 6-foot-9 forward from Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep was downright dominant at times.

Martin is making excellent use of his added strength and has played with tons of energy. He's concentrated his efforts on battling around the rim, running the floor and being a college-ready four man.

Johnson one of 2014's top wings

It's tough to understand why, but for whatever reason it seems like no matter what Stanley Johnson does, many question his game. The 6-foot-6 small forward from the class of 2014 is already a star at mighty Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, he's played for USA Basketball and he consistently puts up big numbers.

Still, some sleep on him. Like he has at other stops this summer, Johnson took matters into his own hands at Pangos and showed a game that continues to evolve.

"People have been sleeping on me a little so it's time to wake them up," Johnson told Rivals.com. "I've been in the gym working hard and I'm really just focusing on being a basketball player."

A power wing who gets to the cup, absorbs contact and finishes, Johnson has a well-rounded game. He will shoot the three, is an outstanding low post player and rebounds the ball. Because he's so good in the post, some have argued that he's more of a power forward than a small forward, but Johnson doesn't really care how anybody views him. He just wants to be versatile.

"I want to do a little bit of everything," said Johnson. "I've shown I can play on the wing, and if people say I'm a four, that's fine too because it can be to my advantage to go and play as a four at times."

On the school front, Johnson says that he'll likely start to narrow things down a bit after July. So far he's heard from the entire Pac 12, Missouri, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Duke, Kentucky, Florida, Florida State and Texas, among others.

2012 guard will prep

Martez Harrison says that he came awfully close to signing a letter of intent with Southern Illinois during the late signing period. Instead, the 5-foot-10 point guard from Kansas City (Mo.) University Academy will head off to prep school for a year.

"I came real close to going to Southern Illinois, it was a good opportunity," said Harrison. "My dad and I talked and we just decided I should try prep school."

Since making that decision, Harrison has been having a strong spring with the KC 76ers and he continued his strong play at Pangos on Saturday. Powerful and quick, his game is all about staying in attack mode and getting to the bucket to make things happen.

According to Harrison he's received phone calls from UCLA, Tulsa, Clemson, Missouri and Western Illinois, and SIU remains an option.

Quick hitters

It's tough not to like Californian Dakarai Allen. The 6-foot-5 wing is a high-level defender who brings it each time he steps on the court. Offensively, he's showing more and more polish and is becoming more than a slasher. Allen is also a very good passer.

When it comes to mid-range game in the class of 2013, few can match Louisville commitment Anton Gill. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard loves to use one or two dribbles to get somewhere quickly and then finish with an assortment of floaters, runners and pull-up jumpers.

To anybody defending Mike Young in the future, get ready to defend a big guy who likes to dribble and who likes to use a spin move. The 6-foot-8 four man's pet move is to spin, either direction, after a few dribbles and cover some serious ground on his way to the rim. He's been in attack mode in Long Beach.

One of the camp's top shooters is Californian Elliott Pitts. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard is proving again that he may be a high major prospect, and his ability to play with skill and savvy in an environment that doesn't exactly cater to that has been noticeable.

Philadelphia's JaQuan Newton is an aware guy on the offensive end. The 6-foot-3 combo guard is constantly probing defenses and sniffing out opportunities to attack the rim, and when he senses that opportunity he's not one to pass up on it. A class of 2014 four-star, he's been solid in camp

London Perrantes and Imara Ready make a nice point guard duo on their camp team. A Californian, Perrantes doesn't blow you away with speed or athleticism, but his smart and alert decision-making jump out and the guy seems to make a good decision every time. Ready, is a sub six-footer who has some burst off the dribble, will make a jumper and doesn't hog the ball. He'll need to get stronger, but he shows potential to help out Rick Ray at Mississippi State.

When the class of 2013's rankings are redone, look for Vince Hunter out of Detroit (Mich.) Consortium to make a push. The 6-foot-7 small forward has played with tons of energy, athleticism and effort and he's shown skills that compliment his physical gifts. Hunter claims offers from Xavier, UTEP, Oakland, Dayton and Detroit to go along with interest from Indiana, Pittsburgh, Missouri, SMU, Marquette and DePaul. Hunter plans to visit both Marquette and DePaul during June.

Only a rising sophomore, Tyler Dorsey is one of the most polished shooting guards in attendance at Pangos. He can make shots from deep, is comfortable attacking with either his right or left hand and is already quite adept at getting to the free throw line.

Another who should be climbing up the rankings is Zach Lavine. A thin and fast shooting guard from Bothell (Wash.) High, Lavine looks to have grown at least two or three inches in the last year and is now every bit of 6-foot-4. A bonafide high-major guard, Lavine can slide over to play some point, has deep range and plays the game fast. He mentioned UCLA, Arizona, Washington, Gonzaga, Oregon, Louisville and Memphis, and the feel is that Bruins are the team to beat in this one.

Eric Bossi is the National Recruiting Analyst for Rivals.com. He can be reached at eric_bossi@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ebosshoops.

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