Skip to content

Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos ready to embrace a larger role next season

Jun 27, 2013, 3:42 PM EDT

Portland v Gonzaga Getty Images

UNION, N.J. — Gonzaga point guard Kevin Pangos will be returning to school for his junior season in 2013-2014, but that doesn’t change the fact that Thursday’s 2013 NBA Draft will be quite meaningful for native of Ontario.

Teammate and countryman Kelly Olynyk has a chance to be a lottery pick. Fellow Canadian Anthony Bennett could end up being the No. 1 overall pick. Another Gonzaga-product could end up being scooped up in the second round.

“It’s very special. We’re a tight-knit group,” Pangos told NBCSports.com at the Nike Skills Academy at Kean University this week. “Everyone knows everyone. If you don’t know them, you’re rooting for them because they’re Canadian. “We’re a whole little family, so seeing guys get drafted and seeing guys that I’ve grown up with go to big schools, it’s really exciting that we’re not just going to be known for hockey.”

As exciting as it is for Pangos to see his friends have a chance to live out their childhood dreams of making the NBA, the bigger issue here is that two of those players — two guys that helped make up one of the best front lines in the country in Olynyk and Harris — and now former teammates.

And without those two in the fold, the way that the ‘Zags play next season is going to be quite different. You see, despite having one of the best young back courts in the country in Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. last season, the bulk of Gonzaga’s offense was run through their front court, which is why they’re combined scoring average dipped from 24.0 points as freshmen to 20.9 points as sophomores.

“I don’t know if we can replace what they bring,” Pangos said of his former front court. “We kind of have to change the style that we play, because everything was through them. They were so dominant.”

What that means is more responsibility for Pangos, who was one of the best freshmen in the country in 2011-2012. He’s always been a terrific jump shooter, and that didn’t change last season. Where Pangos is looking to improve is in his ability off the bounce. He doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a possession point guard that can’t do much more than knock down open threes.

“Creating my own shot. Being able to get into the paint. I’m not the quickest, most athletic guy, but I’m trying to use my skills and change-of-speed to get into the paint, to create for myself and others,” Pangos said. The Point Guard Skills Academy lasted for three days, but the media was only allowed to watch the final session on Wednesday, which was mostly just scrimmaging. But the previous two-and-a-half days featured primarily skill work and pointed coaching from coaches like John Lucas and workout specialists like Kevin Eastman.

That’s where Pangos truly benefitted, not only learning from the best but working out with — and against — some of the best college point guards in the country.

“I’ve never been invited to a camp like this before, so I’m just trying to take it all in,” Pangos said. “Coaches really push you to go full speed. I’ve learned that there’s a lot of great players. I’ve watched their game, seen what I can add to my game. Overall, just the speed of everything. It kind of just made me realize that there’s always something to improve on.”

One of the biggest knocks that Pangos has faced throughout his career is his work on the defensive end of the floor, but it’s worth noting that during the scrimmage portion, Pangos had a chance to go up against Kyrie Irving for a couple of minutes. In one stretch, he got three straight stops, twice turning Irving over and once forcing him to take a tough, left-handed floater. To be frank, Irving was playing at about 75% and wearing cargo short sweat pants, but that doesn’t change the fact that Pangos more than held his own against an NBA all-star.

At the very least, that’s a confidence-booster.

‘I was hacking him a little bit here and there, but I was just trying to play as tough as I could,” Pangos said. “He’s an NBA all-star! I was trying to do the best I could. At first it was a little nerve-wracking, like I can’t get beat, but it was fun.”

If it all goes to plan, Pangos will follow the likes of Olynyk and Harris and Bennett to the NBA Draft, which is part of the reason he didn’t spend an extra day in the tri-State area to attend Thursday’s draft.

“Hopefully next year or the year after I’ll be there for my own,” he said.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. USC Upstate assistant Kyle Perry promoted to associate head coach

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:59 PM EDT

    USC Upstate Athletics USC Upstate Athletics

    Perry’s been at USC Upstate since 2009, and among the players he’s helped recruit was former great Torrey Craig.

  2. Report: New Orleans lands graduate transfer Kevin Brown

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Terry Rozier, Wayne Blackshear, Kevin Brown AP

    Brown averaged 5.5 points per game and made 13 starts in 35 appearances for the Ragin’ Cajuns.

  3. Merv Lindsay is transferring from New Mexico

    Jul 23, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Lindsay played his freshman season at Kansas

  4. Malik Beasley looking to capitalize on a big spring, summer

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Beasley has been one of the nations top performers over the last three months

  5. Maker’s Mark releases a special ACC/Tom Jurich bottle (PHOTO)

    Jul 23, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT

    Louisville Athletics Louisville Athletics

    It’s the latest in a long line of bourbon bottles commemorating celebrities in the state.

  6. The Battle of the Pitinos may become an annual occurrence

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Richard Pitino

    Rick vs. Richard could get awkward for the rest of the family

  7. The latest allegations against Doug Wojcik involve a physical confrontation

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Will this be enough for Charleston to finally get rid of their embattled head coach?

  8. Top 15 recruit Antonio Blakeney has made the ‘jump’ — literally — to elite status

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    Nike Nike

    Blakeney is now on the radar of programs like Kentucky and Louisville.

  9. Time lapse of Iowa State’s refurbished court (VIDEO)

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 9.26.42 AM

    Iowa State repainted their court.

  10. Is the College of Charleston close to making a decision on head coach Doug Wojcik?

    Jul 22, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    Doug Wojcik AP

    The College of Charleston Board of Trustees meets on Wednesday.

  11. Iowa State forward Jameel McKay denied wavier, eligible to play in December

    Jul 22, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Fred Hoiberg

    The transfer forward will miss the first nine games of the season.

  12. Highlights from the 2014 Nike EYBL Peach Jam (VIDEO)

    Jul 22, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Seven minutes of highlights from this past weekend’s Nike Peach Jam.

  13. Northern Kentucky eligible for the 2015 Atlantic Sun tournament

    Jul 22, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    Dave Bezold Dave Bezold

    But they aren’t yet eligible for the NCAA tournament. Click to see why.

  14. Isaiah Austin has a job with the NBA once he finishes degree at Baylor

    Jul 22, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    Isaiah Austin Isaiah Austin

    Isaiah Austin is returning to Baylor. Once he gets his degree, he’ll have a job with the NBA.

  15. Montrezl Harrell says he’d be willing to play for Louisville football

    Jul 22, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    montrezl harrell Getty Images

    Imagine 6-foot-8, 235-pound Harrell in a helmet and shoulder pads.

  16. July Live Period Week Two Superlatives

    Jul 22, 2014, 3:16 PM EDT

    Nike Nike

    The second installment of our weekly awards.

  17. Iowa State’s Georges Niang carries extra motivation – and less weight – into 2014-15

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Georges Niang AP

    Niang, who has dropped some 25 pounds since the end of the season, is looking to have an even greater impact as the Cyclones work to account for the losses of Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane.