SPOKANE -– Guards were the order of the day on Wednesday for Gonzaga University head men’s basketball coach Mark Few as three of the four players who inked national letters-of-intent were perimeter players.
Joining the Bulldogs next fall will be Gary Bell, a 6-2, 175-pound guard from Kentridge High in Kent, Wash.; Kyle Dranginis, 6-5, 175, guard, from Skyview High in Nampa, Idaho; Kevin Pangos, 6-2, 175, guard, from Denison Secondary School in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, and Ryan Spangler, 6-8, 220, forward, from Bridge Creek High in Blanchard, Okla.
Bell averaged 22.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game for the Chargers last season and scored a career-high 55 points versus Auburn-Riverside. Bell shot 46.2 percent from the field, including 41.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, and hit 75.3 percent of his free throws.
“Gary Bell is just a consummate guard. He can score, pass, put the ball on the floor, good shooter, very good defender and I think will be a very, very good leader by the time it is all said and done,” Few said. “It’s something we’ve been very, very excited about since we started recruiting Gary. To have him in the Gonzaga family is huge.”
Dranginis is a two-time Idaho State Player of the Year and this past season as a junior was four points shy of tying the Idaho State 4A Tournament record with 75 points in three games as Skyview finished fifth in the State tourney. Dranginis averaged a team-high 20.3 points, 6.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 2.0 steals for the Hawks.
“He’s another totally complete guard. He can stretch the defense with his range well past three, terrific passer, longer, bigger guard that I think will give us some versatility on defense,” Few noted. “He’s a guy who has played a lot of point in high school so he’s comfortable with the ball and without the ball, the kind of guard who really functions well here because he can do everything.”
Pangos helped lead Canada to the bronze medal at the FIBA U-17 World Championship in Hamburg, Germany, this past July. The team captain and starting point guard averaged 15.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 4.1 assists as Canada went 5-3 overall and defeated Lithuania 83-81 for the bronze medal.
“Kevin is a pure point, a point guard who can shoot. They’ve really anointed him as the next great Canadian guard up there,” Few said. “He has a very, very good feel for the game and is very driven. He also understands the importance of leadership at the position, too. He’s played in big international tournaments and faired very well. He works extremely hard at his game and that has always been something that works very well here at Gonzaga.”
Few said guards were the focus, and he’s pleased with the three he got.
“We thought we needed to really improve our perimeter. We were able to do that. These are guys I’ve been able to see a lot, that our staff has been able to see a lot and get to know very well and I think that’s been a positive,” Few said. “I feel great about all three of those guys. I’ve seen them a lot. I trust them all. They come from great, solid families who have done a wonderful job of raising them. All three are very high character kids. I think they are going to have great careers.”
Spangler has some unfinished football business before he turns his thoughts to basketball. He currently has Bridge Creek 7-2 and headed to the Oklahoma State 3A playoffs beginning Friday with a game against Purcell. Spangler is 143-for-233 through the air for 1,960 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions this season.
On the court, Spangler averaged 26.0 ppg and 18.5 rpg as a junior, the team losing in the game to advance to State. He was not heavily recruited until this past summer when he played AAU ball as most observers thought he would pursue a collegiate football career.
“Ryan is a tough, hard-nosed player that really has a knack for rebounding at a high level. We think we are just scratching the surface with him basketball wise because he’s been such a good football player,” Few said of the lone inside player to sign. “When he focuses on basketball I think there is definite room for his skill development to catch up. He also comes from a great family, high character, a young person who I think is very team oriented and will be a great addition with his toughness. Being a high school quarterback gives it a whole different perspective as far as playing inside at the collegiate level. I think it allows you to play with poise and some savvy and you combine that with how hard he plays and it’s a pretty good combination.”