Patrick Baldwin impresses in Pangos Midwest return

LA GRANGE, IL – Saturday’s Day I of the “Midwest” stop on the Pangos All-Frosh/Soph Camp circuit put a nifty bunch of sophomores and freshmen – as well as one eighth-grader who quickly demonstrated he was worthy of his pre-camp hype – on display at the Park District Sports facility in this Chicago suburb.

Where to begin?

OK, let’s go with Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee Hamilton), a who made a strong impressive on those who watched him at the same event a year ago when he was a 6-foot-5 freshman.

Baldwin (pictured on the Twitter post of this story), who moved his family from Evanston (IL) to Milwaukee when his dad was hired away Chris Collins’ Northwestern staff to become the head basketball coach at the Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has grown at least three inches in the past month – and could very well top out in the 6-10 range.

His size, skill (especially as a passer and jump shooter), poise and feel for the game will always keep him in the upper-echelon of national Class of 2021 prospects. And he’s never gotten less than an “A” in the classroom, either.

The most compelling head-up matchup I watched Saturday involved a couple of 6-9 post players in freshman Yaya Keita (St. Louis DeSmet) and sophomore Even Brauns (Iowa City Regina).

Brauns opened things with an assertive move from the left baseline and appeared to be about to score well-above the rim with his off (left) hand.

But Keita responded just as strongly in kind, slapping the ball away for the first of his half-dozen or so blocked shots.

Keita (who said he came to the U.S. from Mali in January) is the best “instinctual” shot blocker I’ve seen on the first three stops on the Pangos Frosh/Soph circuit (the West’s version was in Southern California late in September and the South’s was in Dallas last week).

His offensive skills are still on the rudimentary scale but his effort (he sprints to both ends of the floor) and determination enabled him to convert on multiple high-percentage attempts.

Brauns recovered from Keita’s assaults on his shot attempts (“He was something,” Brauns said of Keita later Saturday night) with some nice offensive finishes and forceful rebounds.

He was even better in his second game (with “Minnesota”) Saturday night, hitting mid-range jump shots and, minus anyone capable of slapping his shots away, scoring with relative ease inside the lane. He capped the effort with a left-handed layup for the game-winning bucket in OT.

Among the other noteworthy 10th graders I watched Saturday were 6-4 Adam Miller (a left-hander with a lot of ways to impact a game, especially offensively) of Chicago Morgan Park; 6-6 Nate Santos (very nice bounce to go with a frequently on-target jump shot to the arc) of Geneva, IL, Community High; and 6-5 Chris Grubbs (strong, skilled and no-nonsense in his approach) from Fisher, IN, Southeastern Hamilton.

The aforementioned Saturday standout from the Class of 2022 was 6-6 Kimari Lands (from Indianapolis, where he attends Fox Creek Middle School), for whom the word “intimidation” obviously isn’t part of his vocabulary.

He was very good in his first game (for “Butler”) and even better during his second tilt Saturday night.

He’s easily the best of the 2022 prospects who’ve appeared on the Pangos Frosh/Soph scene so far this fall.

Camp action resumes Sunday morning at 9 o’clock, with the all-star games going at 12:30 p.m. (Top 60) and 1:30 (Top 30).

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Frank Burlison

Frank Burlison is a well-regarded basketball writer who was inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2005. His opinions on the potential of high school and college players are widely respected and sought by college coaches and NBA scouts, personnel directors and general managers from coast to coast. Oh, yes – he can offer plenty of thoughts on movies, television and pop music. Yes, he can rank those, too. Hint: He’s a big The Godfather, Larry Sanders, The Wire and The Beatles loyalist.

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