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 Vincent Iwuchukwu of Montverde Academy (FL) and Drive Nation (TX). Iwuchukwu was selected to the Top-30 Cream of the Crop Game and averaged 21.8 points and 9.8 rebounds while showcasing his stretch potential, interior scoring, and high motor throughout camp.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Iwuchukwu talked about his unique background, his introduction to basketball, his recruitment update, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Vincent Iwuchukwu, from San Antonio, Texas:
Pro Insight: What are your impressions of the event, so far?
Vincent Iwuchukwu: It’s good. There are a lot of good guys I’m playing against. Lots of high level competition throughout between the guards, bigs, and forwards. It’s a really good camp, going against the best guys in the country so you can’t complain about that.
PI: How do you feel like you’ve performed against the other bigs here?
VI: I feel like I’ve stacked up pretty well. We run the ball really well, show I can score the ball, show I can pass the ball well too. I feel like I’m one of the best bigs not just in the gym, but in the whole country and I think I’ve proven that time and time again through my play. I think I’m up there.
PI: Who have you enjoyed playing with or against?
VI: I’ve enjoyed playing with all my guards on my team and with the bigs too. Like Max Allen passes the ball well. Tyler Smith hustles, he’s a shooter, he’s long, athletic, and can rebound. Gradey Dick, he’s bouncy, can shoot it, and makes smart plays. I have a good team around me and everyone there passes the ball, can create their own shot, and create shots for one another.
PI: Describe your game — what are your strengths?
VI: I’m a guy that can get you a bucket. I can help your offense and defense. I pride myself defensively to alter shots, block shots, rebound the ball. If you watch me play you’ll know I play hard. That’s the great thing, I play with a lot of energy. When my teammates are rolling then I’m rolling. If they’re not going then I’m going to try my best to get them rolling. I just bring energy and play hard.
PI: What are some underrated aspects of your game?
VI: I think my playmaking for sure. A lot of people see me as just a rim runner who rebounds the ball and blocks shots. But I like to showcase that I can pass the ball and get guys in the right spot. Find open guys, especially when I’m being double or triple-teamed. I think my playmaking in general is just undervalued, not just for me, but for a lot of bigs across the country.
PI: What are some areas of improvement?
VI: Ball-handling, for sure. I’ve been working a bit on bringing the ball up the court and making a play. Working on my handle and working on my shot, have a consistent shot so I can be a mis-match on offense. If you sag off I can shoot the ball and if you’re too close then I can blow right past you. I think my game is going to get to that point and now it’s just fine-tuning and making it perfect. I’ve shown flashes of it, I’ve worked on it so many times and have used it plenty of times in the games. It’s not a secret that I can’t do it, it’s just getting it perfect.
PI: Who do you model your game after?
VI: At one point I used to say Giannis, but I play nothing like Giannis. I like KD a lot, his face-up game is lethal. That’s where I want to get to, where my face-up game is lethal. So if you double then I’m going to find someone open and if you leave me open then I’m going to get a bucket. Another person is Jokic, his playmaking is off the charts and his ability to find guys is something I only dream of doing. It’s something I’m going to keep working on, but someone like that, that’s the MVP. He’s a guy like that and hopefully I can get my vision to become like Jokic.
PI: Where were you at this time last year compared to now as a player?
VI: My body has grown since last year, I was about 205-210 pounds and now I’m about 230 pounds. I’m more athletic. I’m able to read double teams a lot better. Rankings-wise, at first I was in the twenties and then I dropped down to like #40 and now I’m #20 again. So right now I’m just improving and rising, not just in rankings, but in my respect from other players around the country. I think I’m very underlooked as a top-20 player [smiles]. I think that’s something I’ve been proving throughout the whole weekend, so hopefully people have seen I can be a big that can contribute to a team.
PI: How did you get to where you’re at today?
VI: Well, I started playing basketball in 8th grade. I came from Germany and was still playing soccer. I first touched a basketball when I lived in Korea in 5th grade — I had played for fun there, but after I went to Germany I stopped playing. We came from Germany to San Antonio, Texas, and I went to a public school. They had a basketball team and I was like, “I might as well just join it.” In 7th and 8th grade I was just there, but I joined an AAU team the summer going into 9th grade. From there my love for the game grew and I saw people playing the game and making millions for doing what they love. It would be a dream come true to get to the NBA. I wouldn’t say this to you like three years ago, I would’ve been like “ahh, who cares if I go to the NBA or not? It’s not a thing for me.” But I started prioritizing and now my main goal in life is to make it to the NBA and succeed in the NBA. Basketball had been an afterthought, but I want to thank Coach Boomer and Coach Lupe for introducing me to the game the way they did. For not giving up on me because I couldn’t make a layup back in 8th grade and now I’m two-hand dunking on people, shooting 3s...something I would never think of doing. It’s really cool to see how much I’ve improved the past couple years.
PI: Do you feel like the game comes naturally to you or has it been a work in progress?
VI: Basketball never came naturally. It was so bad to the point where I wanted to quit. I think my 8th grade year we did these little ball drills where we had this stability ball and you had to use your core and try to make a layup and my legs would just wobble like some turkeys. And I missed layups and I’d be like, “damn!” And I see all the other guys are doing it with ease...I was like, “damn!” At that point I was like, “I’m going to get there one day” and that’s where it came from and my motivation was I’ve got to get to that point. I see more players above me and I’m like, “I’ve got to reach that.” So just keep trying to get better and everybody else is what’s keeping me going. I’m always the guy who tries to be the best he can at everything. If that’s to be a Hall of Famer and MVP then that’s what I’m going to do. It was hard [learning the game] and it’s still hard, but it’s definitely something I’ve improved on and I’m going to continue to work on it.
PI: What’s the update with your recruitment?
VI: I’ve been receiving a lot of calls from different schools. USC, Arizona State, Georgia, Florida State, Texas, Indiana, Purdue, Baylor, etc. There are a lot of schools who have reached out recently and I’m just open to anything, any options. I don’t have a set list, or date/time. I’m just listening to every single coach and school.
PI: Have you been hearing from any pro options?
VI: I’m not too sure, I think my dad was talking about the G-League having a talk with him a few weeks ago, but I don’t think it was something that was really prominent. I think it’s like he hinted at it, but I would say the college route is probably my route. I really want to be one-and-done so I can be a young guy in the NBA and have an impact for a long time, not just for a short while. I think I’m able to do that as I put the work in.
PI: What type of system best fits your playing style?
VI: A system that is able to utilize their bigs as well as their guards. Making the whole team feel like they’re being used. I feel like that’s the biggest thing. Once a player feels like they’re not being used in the system, that’s when things start to go downhill. Having a good coaching staff that complements each player. It’s about chemistry with the coaches and guys on the team. I think that’s the biggest thing, a team that’s able to use their bigs in different situations. I’m not saying get the ball to the big all of the time, but there are points where I feel like you can play through the bigs due to how the style of the game is now.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
VI: I want to be remembered as a good guy. On the court with my teammates I’m going to cheer you on and hopefully I’m a guy that brings a lot of energy, but I’m also like when I’m done people are like, “damn, that man was tough to play against and he was great to play with.” Someone who if I go out in public after I’m done playing basketball I’m accepted and welcomed with open arms — being a part of the community and being a fun guy.