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Player Previews: Kyle Dranginis

As Will alluded to when previewing Chris Sarbaugh, the 2011 recruiting class is already being billed as one of the best to ever hit the city of Spokane.  With potential, athleticism, physicality, and basketball IQ, each member of the 2011 class looks outstanding on paper.  The first member of the 2011 class committed way back in December of 2009.  Kyle Dranginis, a wiry guard from Nampa, Idaho jumped at Mark Few's early scholarship offer and, although he just recently began his first semester at Gonzaga, it feels like he has been part of the squad for quite some time now. 

Hailing from Idaho, Dranginis is one of the most decorated high school basketball players the state has ever produced.  Witht that being said, he is still a pretty unknown commodity.  His high school statistics, while gaudy, come with some question becuase of the competition he played against in Idaho.  As a senior, Kyle led his Skyview High School Hawks to the 4A state final game.  He averaged 24 points, 9 boards, five assists, and a couple steals a game.  He's the two-time reigning Gatorade state player of the year. 

Read on after the jump for more on Kyle and how we expect him to make an impact at Gonzaga...

In high school, Kyle ran point.  At 6'5'', he was able to pick apart opposing teams due to his size and find the open man or create for himself.  As he joins Gonzaga, he will be asked to take on a new role and play off the ball.  For a player that is used to having the ball in his hands every time down the court, this will be a major adjustment.  Kyle's success in high school started with his size.  It made him versatile because, depending on who the matchup was, he could either kill teams from deep or move into the post and take on smaller guards.  Playing off the ball, likely on the wing, Kyle is going to be asked to work on his outside shooting game and becoming a slasher.  While this is a transformation many incoming guards have to make, it will be especially tricky due to his experience playing against weaker competition.

The great thing about a player like Kyle is that he is full of potential.  He's got a great frame at 6'5'' to be an effective off-guard/wing for the Zags.  He has a very refined offensive game and was one of the most composed high school basketball players I have ever watched.  Because of his great potential, I don't think it is a huge surprise that I think a player like Kyle would benefit tremendously from a redshirt season.  He's got a frame that is in desperate need of some added muscle and with guys like Mathis Keita, Mathis Monninghoff, Guy Landry, Gary Bell, etc..., Gonzaga does have a bit of a logjam at the two and three positoin. 

I think the key for Kyle will be to dedicate himself in the weight room because right now, he won't be able to last a full season in divsion one basketball.  With some added strength/speed and more consistentcy in his outside offensive game, I think there is an extremely bright future for Dranginis.  Mark Few has shown that he will put players on the court that demonstrate an ability to create for others but they must also be willing and able to be selfish and take their shots when open.  Also, Dranginis is the type of player that really thrives under Few.  Similar to a Matt Bouldin, Dranginis plays the game with such a calmness because he simply understands the ins and outs of basketball.  He won't miss assignments and he won't put his team at a disadvantage due to mental errors.

While the short term expectations for Dranginis may be low, I think those who have seen him compete in Idaho would agree that he has all the tools to be a very valuable asset at Gonzaga.  Hitting the weight room, working on his defense, and competing in practices will probably be his task list for this coming season.  And, hopefully, by this time next year we will be discussing Kyle as a regular contributor for the Gonzaga Bulldogs.