The prestigious Pangos All-American Camp, an invite-only event featuring the top high school prospects in the nation, returned this summer after it was cancelled due to the pandemic last year. Pro Insight was on hand to evaluate the event and caught up with Javonte “JJ” Taylor of Kenwood Academy (IL) and Mac Irvin Fire (IL). Taylor was selected to the Top-30 Cream of the Crop Game and averaged 16.3 points while showcasing his versatility and upside throughout camp.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Taylor talked about his impressions of the event, his background, his recruitment update, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect JJ Taylor, from Chicago, Illinois:
Pro Insight: What are your initial impressions of the event?
JJ Taylor: The camp is going well so far, trying to showcase my talent. Everyone else is trying to showcase their talent, too, but I’m trying to stand out. Yeah, it’s good so far.
PI: How do you feel like you’ve performed?
JT: First game was alright, I didn't really get that many touches, but I’m working on that. I did good, but getting a feel for the team.
PI: What are you hoping to show NBA scouts?
JT: I’m hoping to show them everything I got, really. My post work is really what I want people to see because that’s really what I want to work on and get better at. I feel like I’ve been getting better and better every time I’ve worked on it.
PI: Why is that such an emphasis for you right now?
JT: Because I mean that mid-range work counts and for me to be able to make that shot, that’s money. That’s money right there.
PI: Describe your game — what are your strengths?
JT: I compare myself to Kevin Durant a lot because we’ve got a lot of similarities in stuff we do and I’m just trying to work on my moves, how he works on his moves. I’ve been watching him this whole time.
PI: What are some improvement areas?
JT: My handles. I’m really trying to make it tighter. They good, but I want to make it even better, so I’ve just been working on that.
PI: What are some underrated aspects of your game?
JT: Shooting. A lot of people don’t think I can shoot, but I really can shoot. I gotta show them.
PI: What do you feel is the perception vs. reality of you as a player?
JT: I got to show everybody what I’m capable of. People just see the videos and not really ever seeing me play in person, but that’s what I’m here for. To showcase my talents.
PI: Talk a bit about your background.
JT: I’ve got four brothers and one little sister. All of my brothers are older than me and they all played basketball and football. Living in Chicago is tough. I just want to make it so everybody can eat.
PI: Did any of your brothers play collegiately or would you be the first?
JT: Basically the first. I’ve got an older brother that went pro overseas, but I’m trying to make it to the league. He’s 6’9”.
PI: What are your current measurements?
JT: 6’7” and 185 pounds.
PI: What’s the update with your recruitment?
JT: Of course Illinois is one me, hometown [team]. I’ve been talking to Kentucky and Michigan lately. I mean, more to come this summer hopefully. I’ve been talking to Kentucky, as you know an assistant coach from Illinois went over to Kentucky and I’ve been talking to him. They’re coming out to see me play during summer league, so hopefully that goes well and I get that offer. That would be good, that’s one of my dream schools. I’ve also been talking to Michigan and Juwan Howard. He’s from Chicago, too, so we got that good relationship bond, that’s my guy.
PI: What are their recruitment pitches to you?
JT: Basically development and how they would develop me to get better. I got to see it, those visits will come and I’ve got to see it for myself. Everything is just word for word right now, nothing physical happening at the moment.
PI: What are you looking for in a school of choice?
JT: Man a school like Kentucky. They like big guards that can shoot and handle the ball. That would be a good school, honestly.
PI: Are you open to pro options such as G-League/OTE or overseas?
JT: Man I heard of the new Overtime league, I don’t know how that works. G-League, I’d definitely be considering that, but only time will tell.
PI: What are your off court interests?
JT: Honestly I play all sports. I play softball, football…believe it or not I play football too. I play WR, QB, DE...I did everything. I just like having fun, like what is life if you’re not having fun? So like being here I’m having fun. Just to be in Vegas is fun, but school is going good. I’m doing good in school, just ready to get back to the season.
PI: Describe this past season.
JT: We played 14 games total. It wasn’t like a real season, but it was something and some people didn’t have a season at all. So we were grateful to have even that many games, we didn’t think it was going to be that many, but at least we got some games in. It was good, honestly.
PI: How much have you grown as a player the past year?
JT: I’ve grown a whole lot, like a whole lot. Like last year people didn’t really recognize me at all, but this year I just stayed in the gym. I wanted to get better so I just stayed in the gym. People recognize me, my name is still building up and I’ve still got a long way to go, but that was a huge jump from last year. So I was really grateful for that, too.
PI: How have you dealt with the added attention?
JT: I just kept my composure, like this is what I wanted so I gotta deal with it. I deal with it by not really ignoring it, but by blocking it out sometimes. With that comes the hate, but at the same time you’ve got to embrace it. And I consume that energy so I take it out on the court. Keep it in my head. It was good, honestly I dealt with it good, I feel like.
PI: Has being a highly-ranked player been what you thought it would be?
JT: Being a top guy, you get more credit basically. Like a lotta people don’t have that spotlight that you have. I’m just grateful to be in my position right now because a year ago I wasn’t even known, but now I’m starting to get known. I’m really just having fun.
PI: Describe yourself in four words.
JT: Funny. Energetic. Silly. Competitor.
PI: What do you hope to be remembered for on and off the court at the end of the day?
JT: Man, the best. I want to be like, “oh yeah he was that guy, everybody knows JJ.” Even when I’m not playing no more people can still be like, “JJ,” you know? That would be a good feeling.