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THE RECRUITING GUY: UA targets catch analyst's eye at Pangos camp

by Richard Davenport | June 13, 2021 at 3:00 a.m.

Several University of Arkansas basketball targets showed well at the prestigious Pangos All-American Camp in Las Vegas from June 6-8.

Nothing But Net national recruiting analyst Van Coleman, who helps pick the participants for the camp, had most of the Arkansas targets on his top-100 list prior to the camp. He plans to update his rankings in August after attending several July events.

Two in-state prospects -- senior center Kel'el Ware, 7-0, 221 pounds, of North Little Rock and former Little Rock Christian point guard Layden Blocker, 6-2, 168 -- were selected to the top 30 of the camp out of 105 of some of the top prospects in the nation.

"He really came on as the weekend went on," Coleman said of Ware. "Struggled a little bit at first with the physical play, but he was a top-30 all-star. Decent skill set. Can step away from the basket and make shots. I think as he gets stronger in his upper body ... I told him to learn to love contact around the basket. Get stronger and that will come easy."

Coleman has Ware rated the No. 48 prospect nationally for the Class of 2022.

"Everything is there," Coleman said. "I think he's going to be a really good player. I think he's a two or three year college guy."

Coleman, who started scouting high school talent in 1976, is one of the more influential analysts in prep basketball. He's served on the McDonald's All-American and Naismith Player of the Year selection committees for the past 38 years. He has served on the Basketball Hall-of-Fame Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award committee since its inception.

Blocker, who will play his junior season at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas, was one of five 2023 prospects to make the cut for the top 30.

"He's quick, he delivers the ball well," said Coleman, who has Blocker the No. 78 prospect nationally for the 2023 class. "He finishes with either hand on the drive and has a decent jump shot. I thought he was a kid out of the 2023 class that really lifted his stock on a national basis. This is a kid that can make things happen on the floor."

Magnolia senior Derrian Ford, 6-4, 205, was called a strong, physical combo guard by Coleman after seeing Ford at the three-day event.

"I talked to him and said, 'You have the body, you have the first step and the explosion. You got to learn to see the court. You have to build that into your game,' " Coleman said. "He has the ability to because he makes some nice passes once in a while."

Ford, who along with Ware officially visited Arkansas at the start of the month, made the top 60 of the camp.

"He's a scoring guard that has to become a combo guard for his future," said Coleman, who lists Ford the No. 47 recruit nationally. "Athletically there's no question. It will now be building the ability to see the game when he makes that turn and attacks."

Little Rock Central guard/forward Annor Boateng, 6-5, 195, was on Coleman's Players to Watch list for the 2024 class before the camp.

He was one of only five 2024 prospects at the camp. Coleman expects Boateng to return to Pangos over the next three years.

"Lots of talent, raw, does some nice things," Coleman said. "Athletic, we all know that. He shoots it fairly well. He handles it well. I thought he handled the pressure of the older kids and their strengths. He just missed making the top 60. He was the youngest player in the camp that was discussed to be in the top 60."

Jordan Walsh, 6-7, 200, of Oak Cliff (Texas) Faith Family Academy was Coleman's No. 44 prospect for the Class of 2022. He's expected to visit the Hogs on June 24-26.

"A really good ball-handling wing who has a nice midrange jump shot," Coleman of Walsh, who was named to the top 30 of the camp. "Attacks the rim from the weak side, rebounds, outlets, plays defense. I just think he's a complete college player. A guy that fits into any program as far as a motor guy who can get a lot done."

Coleman thought senior Rickie Isaacs, 6-2, 178, of Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif., was the best point guard at the camp.

"He's smart, has the ability to shift gears and get to the rim," said Coleman, who lists Isaacs the No. 16 player nationally. "Excellent passer. Deadly three-point shooter when his feet are set. He knows the game. Gets more upset with himself when he makes a bad play than any teammate he's playing with or any coach that's coaching him."

Isaacs is considering an official visit to Fayetteville.

Forward Aidan Shaw, 6-8, 190, of Stilwell (Kan.) Blue Valley is looking to set up a date to officially visit Arkansas. He made the top 60 of the event, but Coleman believes he should've made the top 30.

"He does everything you want a player to do," said Coleman, who has Shaw as the No. 34 prospect nationally in the Class of 2022. "He plays defense. He's probably, if anything, too unselfish. Doesn't look for offense that isn't there like every other kid does at these type of events, where they jack up shots they should never shoot. He does it the right way. He's not a great shooter, but he's a good enough shooter."

Chris Bunch, 6-7, 185. of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., is planning to set a date to officially visit Arkansas. He was named to the top 60.

"The talent is there," Coleman said of the senior. "Inconsistency in his game and effort are the only questions I had. He can make shots. He has the ability to handle and get to the rim."

Forward Dillon Mitchell, 6-7, 180, of Spring Hill (Fla.) Bishop McLaughlin Catholic was also named to the top 60 of the camp.

"I thought he was solid, and I think he has great athletic tools," Coleman said of the Class of 2022 prospect. "I think the game will come, and I think he has the potential. He's a 15- to 17-foot shooter now but will need to move it out to the arc."

Coleman saw enough of senior shooting guard Rylan Griffen, 6-5, 180, of Richardson, Texas, to think he belonged in the top 30 of the camp instead of being named to the top 60.

"In my mind, should've been on the first team," Coleman said. "I think he was consistently one of the most solid ones in the camp. I like players that know how to play together and don't worry about their numbers, they worry about the team."

Coleman ranks Griffen as the nation's No. 58 prospect.

Senior point guard Austin Nunez, 6-2, 170, of San Antonio Wagner was Coleman's No. 83 prospect nationally.

"Austin is a solid lead guard," Coleman said. "Delivers the basketball very well. Shoots the open three. Just solid all weekend long."

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