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Learning more about the newest Zag: Kyle Dranginis

Kyle Dranginis is the first member of Gonzaga's 2011 recruiting class.
Kyle Dranginis is the first member of Gonzaga's 2011 recruiting class.

Recruiting at Gonzaga, and probably every other notorious basketball program, is an odd science.  One of the trends we have seen however is that there are some kids that really have to be recruited to come to Gonzaga and then there are some kids that just have that strong desire to play basketball in Spokane, Washington.  Whether they grew up watching Gonzaga or are just trying to emulate Adam Morrison's ridiculous college career, a lot of players around  the Northwest region dream of playing in the Kennel.  Skyview High School point guard Kyle Dranginis is an excellent example of this so when Gonzaga offered him a scholarship, he jumped at the opportunity to be a Zag.

Dranginis, the reigning Idaho player of the year, is currently having an outstanding junior year and putting up some gaudy stats.  Recently he has scored as much as 34 points but has also been praised for his ability to fill up the stat sheet in a number of ways.  Standing at 6'4'', Kyle is obviously a big point guard which generally have great success at Gonzaga.  His Skyview High School team went 26-0 a year ago and won the state title.  This season, they are 7-1 and, having returned five players from last year, are poised to make a strong case for a second straight title.  As far as what kind of player you can expect, here is a nice blurb on Kyle from ESPN's recruiting services:

Dranginis has very good size for the point guard spot. His size allows him to see over the defense to find open teammates for easy scoring chances. He understands how to get a smaller, quicker guard on his hip and keep him in jail, backing the quicker guard down for better looks at the basket for himself or for teammates. He has range that extends out to the 3-point line on the jumper, but his thin frame sometimes allows defenders to knock him off his path when he tries to get to the bucket. He also has a decent handle for a bigger guard.

It might just be me but this kid sends me a big Grant Gibbs vibe.  Big guard that has room to add weight, not overly athletic but he makes up for it with his smarts.  Like Gibbs, Dranginis is a winner.  He's won a state title and did it in dramatic fashion as he Skyview had to play four overtime periods in the state tournament.  He's a solid passer, a decent rebounder, and his size allows him to score in a number of ways whether it is down in the low post or from deep.

Kyle was also a guest at Gonzaga's most recent Elite Camp.  In an August recruiting piece, EDZ had this to say about him:

Although he hasn't received much coverage from the main recruiting websites, Kyle Dranginis is very high on the Gonzaga radar. Dranginis, who hails from Nampa, Idaho, is a 6'4 combo guard that starred at the Gonzaga elite camp this summer. The one thing that immediately jumps out about Dranginis is the fact that he is a winner. Last season, Kyle led Skyview high school to the state championship and an undefeated 26-0 record. As a sophomore, Dranginis averaged 10.9 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.4 rebounds, which is tremendous evidence of the versatility that Dranginis brings to the court. During the AAU season, Dranginis played very well for Boise Flite, and caught the eye of Frank Burlison and other writers. At this point, I don't think Dranginis is the first option, but that could change if Johnson or Bell decide to commit elsewhere.

A strong elite camp performance was obviously the thing that really put him on Gonzaga's radar which is good because it means the camp is actually serving a purpose.  I think Dranginis' performance at the camp vaulted him above a guy like Brett Kingma who is more of a sharpshooter than a pure scorer.  While I really enjoy Kingma's game, it's clear that Dranginis' versatility was just too much for this staff to not offer him.  I'll do a bit more editorializing about this commit after the jump...

Now that we've gotten all of the stats and blurbs out of the way, it's time to take a way-too-early look at what Dranginis can bring this team.

EDZ and I have been talking about this since it was announced and I think our general verdict is that we just don't really know alot about Kyle.  He plays in Idaho which isn't exactly a basketball hub but some of his stats this year are obviously hard to ignore.  The obvious positive to Kyle is that he seems to be a gamer and someone who isn't used to losing which is something this team needs more of.  There are players of this current Gonzaga team and guys from last year that had worlds of talent but some of them accepted losing as a necessary evil.  It's my hope that Kyle wins three straight Idaho titles so that he forgets what losing even is. 

Speaking in more nitty gritty basketball terms, Kyle's major weakness is basically that he has been growing a lot in high school.  He's grown about four inches in high school and that obviously means that he needs to add weight.  This is basically the standard protocol for every player Mark Few brings in and I imagine that this will probably require a redshirt year.  When he comes to Gonzaga, Demetri Goodson will be a senior as will Bol Kong.  Grant Gibbs, G.J. Vilarino, and Mangisto Arop will all be juniors so there shouldn't be any need to play Kyle as a freshman.  If he can add strength, he might be able to have a sort of Matt Bouldin style of play at Gonzaga.  He's very good in the interior for being so slight and he just has a knack for scoring.

I wrote in the initial fanshot about this news that we'll know a lot more about Kyle after this summer.  I'm a big believer in AAU basketball especially when it deals with kids that play basketball against weak high school competition.  Not to disrespect Kyle or Idaho basketball but it worries me that he won player of the year last season and only averaged 11 points a game.  The competition within the state is not fierce but he showed well in AAU basketball last summer and I expect more of the same in a few months.  This is one of those situations where we have to put faith in the coaching staff and their evaluation process.   To be honest, I was hoping we'd hold back the offer until after this summer and his official visit but it's clear that Few and Co. felt that we had to get Dranginis right now before his recruitment really went crazy.  For what it's worth, Kyle was being recruited by a slew of WCC teams and recently visited Utah State.  Washington State and a few other Pac-10 schools were just beginning to show interest before the Zags swooped him up.

I don't really want to or feel like speculating about what this means for the future of our recruiting because I think the scholarship situation is bound to change in the next few months.  For now, let's all welcome Kyle to Gonzaga!