Reflection of a Leader
For Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos, individual success comes second to his squad’s performance.
by Ray Bala
When I spoke to Gonzaga’s sophomore floor general Kevin Pangos recently about his favorite part of the summer, he had a quick and easy answer: Canada Basketball’s Senior Men’s Training Camp.
Canada’s hardwood governing body, despite the men’s team not being a part of the Olympics, held an invite-only camp that had a mix of pros, college and high school kids in together to work out, get familiar and reconnect with players. For Pangos, it was a reunion of sorts. Having played with camp invitees Texas’ Myck Kabongo, UNLV teammates Khem Birch and Anthony Bennett and UK’s Kyle Wiltjer on Canada Junior Men’s National Team, getting together with guys he’s grown up in basketball with all together in one spot is almost impossible these days, so Kevin definitely appreciated that time.
“The players I’ve played with (since I was younger) were there,” he says. “It was great to catch up with them. Being able to go up against the top players in Canada and really work together for a common goal was fun. That was the best part of my summer and a great way to finish it off. ”
For Pangos, attending national team training camps is something he’s been doing since he was 15 years old. Working out with different seasoned players as a kid may be a reason why he exploded onto the scene as a freshman last season, literally.
His incredible 33-point effort in his second college basketball game against Washington State announced his presence and his 9-of-13 from behind arc gave an indication as to what teams would have to look out for. Pangos would shoot 40.1 percent from the three, making 2.4 per game on the year. He would also average 13.6 points, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals, all team highs, in 31.4 minutes per game leading his on the floor. His efforts would earn him Freshman of the Year honors in the West Coast Conference as well as a spot on the All Conference team.
Not bad for a newbie.
This season, he’s looking to help guide his team to the conference tournament title and then to a deep run in March in the NCAA Tournament. But the road to the Big Dance will not be an easy one.
The loss of graduated senior Robert Sacre to the NBA has left a void in the middle on both ends of the floor. This edition of the Bulldogs will need to find a way to get over that loss in a hurry, especially when they’re a pre-season Top 25 pick by just about everyone who has a list to put them on.
Kevin has an easy solution to compensate for the loss of Sacre.
“First of all, we need to win,” he states matter-of-factly. “As a team we’re a little different without Rob and trying to replace him will be difficult. We’ll all need to step our games up (but) our team has depth and so many options and that’s going to be one of the big strengths of our team.”
And you can bet that Pangos will be the one who will be one of the pillars of the team’s strength.
Aside from that it will be up to him to be among the leaders of the team. And like the true leader that he is, Kevin hinges his personal success with that of the team.
“I want to do whatever my team needs me to do to be successful,” he says. “I think that if the team is winning, that is one of the reflections on the point guard, so I’m going to try and lead this team and win.”
With that attitude, you can expect to see a dip on his individual stats—but the only thing that will matter is who’s on top at the sound of the buzzer. And you can bet that more often than not it’ll be Pangos leading the Zags to that W.