Kevin Pangos has verbally committed to play for the Gonzaga University Bulldogs — one of America’s top programs — starting in 2011.
The 6-foot-1 senior point guard, from Newmarket’s Dr. Denison Secondary School, is widely considered to be the best prospect at his position in Canada and will join fellow Canucks Robert Sacre, Kelly Olynyk and Manny Arop on the Bulldogs’ roster.
Pangos has played with that trio on various national teams.
His decision to play his college ball in Spokane, Washington was an easy one.
“Gonzaga had everything I wanted,” Pangos said in a recent telephone interview. “From playing time, to just opportunity. They’re a great program and have a great history of point guards.”
The academic programs Gonzaga had to offer was another reason for the commitment.
“[Academics] was a factor for sure,” he said. “Actually, it’s a cool chance for me. I want to take kinesiology, but I also am interested in sports management which I can major and minor in those two things at Gonzaga. At other schools, that didn’t look like a possibility. The athletics and academics, overall, at Gonzaga just fit my needs.”
Son of York University women’s basketball coach Bill Pangos, the 17-year-old has generated a tremendous amount of hype because of his outstanding shooting and passing abilities — a skill set that has had him compared to NBA star Steve Nash by some scouts.
Pangos feels honoured by the comparison, but he wants to be recognized for being himself.
“I don’t mind [the comparisons], but at the same time, I would like to be looked at as my own player,” he said. “It’s great to be compared to one of the best players of all time, in my opinion, at the point guard position.
“Being able to be compared to him, to even be considered, feels great, but I’m trying to make my own path and [getting recruited] is a big step towards that and we’ll see what I can do from now on.”
The standout point guard has garnered a lot attention this year when he was selected to the Jordan Brand International Game, where the world’s best 16-and-under players are showcased.
“[The Jordan Brand International Game] was awesome,” he said. “One of the biggest stages you can imagine, Madison Square Garden, and being able to play against some of the best competition in the world on that stage was definitely a huge highlight.”
He also shone while leading the Canadian national cadet team to a bronze medal in the U17 world championships in Hamburg, Germany.
“Probably my favourite basketball highlight, so far in my career, would be the Germany bronze medal,” Pangos said. “Being able to travel around the world, playing against the best competition is always something I’ve dreamed of.”
Pangos should be ready for the physicality of Division 1 basketball because, similar to what Andy Rautins did during his college career at Syracuse, the Zag-to-be has spent time with the senior national team, playing in exhibition games against European professional players.
“Playing against the best competition at that level is something that people my age don’t really get a chance to do,” he said. Being around the [senior national] team, older guys who can mentor you in ideas and stuff they’ve already been through that I’m about to go through. It helped me a lot talking to those guys.”
His experience with the national team has also made him want to stay with the team for as long as possible.
“Anytime I have a chance to play for the national team I’m not going to turn it down,” Pangos said. “I have a passion for playing for Canada, wearing that across my chest, and it’s a great chance to get better.”