Great photo courtesy of the folks at Washington Prep Sports (http://waprepsports.net/)
Gonzaga's 2011 class has been making some serious noise on their respective high school scenes this season. Now that we have a few days before the next couple West Coast Conference games, let's get everyone caught up on how the future of Gonzaga is looking a year before they hit the court as Bulldogs.
Starting in the state of Washington with Kentridge guard Gary Bell Jr. Bell, who is widely regarded as one of, if not the most complete player in the state, has put together a gem of a season for the Chargers. Gary's averaging about 26 points per game through 13 games. Bell has been grabbing headlines over in Seattle throughout the winter with his vast array of skills. He's lead Kentridge to a 9-4 record on the season and they are one of the favorites to compete for a 4A crown. While Gary has had a number of remarkable performances this season, his best effort may have came outside the state of Washington when his team traveled down to California for a showcase against some of the top teams down south. Included in this showcase was a tilt with Mater Dei High School. If you know anything about prep sports, you know the name Mater Dei. This season, they are ranked #8 nationally and feature Xavier Johnson and Katin Reinhardt both of whom will be playing basketball in the Pac-12. In a losing effort, Gary Bell racked up 33 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. It's truly hard not to get excited about a kid that can put up a near triple-double against a program like Mater Dei. Bell has seven more games in the regular season before hopefully taking Kentridge on a long run in the state playoffs.
read on for more on the future Bulldogs...
While Gary Bell's stats are fantastic in their own right, Ryan Spangler needs his own stat sheet each time he hits the court in Oklahoma. To ground you on the stats that I am about to share, it is worth noting that Ryan is sort of a "big fish in a small pond". He plays in 4A (Oklahoma goes up to 6A), and we're told that Oklahoma prep hoops is a pretty shallow pool in terms of legit D1 talent. With that being said, Spangler is averaging 33 points and 19 rebounds a game for Bridge Creek. He leads the entire state, regardless of classification in rebounds by a wide margin and is second in scoring. I couldn't be more intrigued to see a player's transition to the division one level than I am with Spangler. From all reports, he simply sounds like a kid that will flat outwork anyone and his skill level is rapidly catching up with his work ethic. As a quarterback for four years at Bridge Creek, Ryan's time was split between football and basketball so it will be interesting to see how he develops with one sole goal in mind in terms of his athletic endeavors. While a bit dated, check out our interview with Scott Wright of The Oklahoman for more on Ryan.
While news from north of the border has been hard to come by, we got a nice glimpse of what 6' point guard signee Kevin Pangos is up to. In short, he appears to be dominating. Again, similar to Spangler (and I'll use the same caveat for Kyle Dranginis as well), Pangos is not exactly playing against elite competition in Canada. What's cool, and somewhat fun to watch, however, is that it sounds like Pangos' team is pretty talent poor as well aside from KP. In the recent St. Michael's College Invitational, Kevin stole the show. In four games, Kevin went for 28, 19, 36, and 48 points as he led his team to the championship game despite his 48 point outburst. Kevin, like Spangler, will have to make a pretty big jump when he touches down in Spokane. I think many actually may be undervaluing his abilities as a pure shooter but, at the same time, may be a bit shortsighted in terms of the physical nature of D1 basketball. Kevin fits the bill of a pure point but the immediacy of his contributions is something I still question; as I do with all freshman making this kind of jump.
The final scholarship member of the 2011 class is Idaho's Kyle Dranginis. Mark Few's first commitment of the 2011 class has, you guessed it, had a very solid senior season for Skyview in Nampa. Kyle is without a doubt the best player in the state of the smurf turf. Skyview is currently the top ranked team in 4A hoops and Dranginis is doing a little bit of everything. In Skyview's most recent win, Kyle finished the game with 18 points, 10 boards, 9 assists, six steals, and four blocked shots. If that isn't stuffing a stat sheet, I don't know what is. On the season, Kyle is averaging well north of twenty points a game. With the emergence of guys like Mathis Monninghoff and Mathis Keita, I'll be curious to see how Mark Few uses Kyle. At 6'4'' with obvious room to grow, I expected the staff to slide Dranginis more towards the wing at Gonzaga but we will see what kind of logjam there is at that position. I've maintained this since Kyle signed and I still believe that he is a likely candidate to redshirt in order to develop a bit more defensive prowess and add some weight and speed to his vast skill set. With Meech, Marquise, Manny, Monninghoff, and Keita returning next season to go along with Bell and Pangos, it seems wise to think a redshirt year has to go to someone.
If anyone has seen these guys in action (particularly Spangler and Pangos) please let us know. Always curious to get first hand feedback from the fans.