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OU, and the newest Zag

Kyle Dranginis' coach at Skyview High warned me that his star player might come across as quiet on the phone, but I'm still waiting to find out. Yes, that means no return phone call from southern Idaho, so I've put together an article based on conversations with Dranginis' father, Tim, and his coach, Aaron Sanders.

You can read the unedited version below.

Meanwhile, here's a couple of previews on tonight's GU-Oklahoma game from the Daily Oklahoman and also here, and several interesting comments from Jeff Capel in the Norman Transcript.

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

Gonzaga’s newest addition, 6-foot-4, 178-pound guard Kyle Dranginis, is a versatile, all-around player on the court and a solid student in the classroom, according Aaron Sanders, Dranginis’ coach at Skyview High in Nampa.

Dranginis, a junior who verbally committed to GU earlier this week, is the first member of the Bulldogs’ 2011 recruiting class. He was the Idaho Statesman newspaper’s 4A player of the year last season after leading the Hawks to an undefeated season and a 59-58 overtime victory over Pocatello in the state championship game.

“He has amazing court vision,” Sanders said. “For that reason he’s a really good passer, but he’s also able to see spots to drive to the basket. He’s playing with a lot more maturity. He started for us as a freshman and he was able to do things other kids’ couldn’t. He’s really good all around, he can shoot it, he handles it well, passes well. Defensively you look at him and wouldn’t think he’s really quick, but he’s smart and he has long arms.”

Dranginis averaged 10.9 points, 5.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks as a sophomore. Sanders estimated Dranginis is averaging 20 points, 5-6 rebounds and 5-6 assists this season. Nampa is 7-1 and ranked No. 1 in 4A. The Hawks lost their season opener to 5A Timberline, but have wins over three Boise-area 5A schools and a big win over then-No. 2 Twin Falls. Dranginis scored 34 points in an overtime victory against conference rival Middleton.

“He had a lot of talent around him when he was a younger so he kept passing more,” said Sanders, who was promoted from assistant coach to head coach prior to this season. “This year we have a couple other guys that are good scorers, but we definitely needed him to step up. He shoots the 3 well, but we try to get things where he’s penetrating and getting points at the free-throw line. And we’ll post him up if other point guards try to guard him. He’s usually 4-5 inches taller.”

Dranginis was offered scholarships by Utah, Utah State and Boise State, according to his father, Tim. Dranginis was receiving interest from Washington State, Portland, Notre Dame and San Diego, among others,

Gonzaga entered the recruiting picture in June.

“He got a call from the staff and they wanted him to come up for their elite camp two days later. I asked the coaches how they heard about him and they said the schools that come up to their camp said they needed to look at this kid,” said Tim Dranginis, who coached Kyle in AAU basketball during his middle school years. Tim is the athletic director at Notus High. He coached basketball at the school, but he stepped down so he could follow his kids’ sports activities.

“We came up there for the Wake Forest game on an unofficial visit,” Tim said. “We were at Utah State on Dec. 23rd and Kyle got a call from Coach (Mark) Few. He called back the next day and offered Kyle a scholarship. It’s kind of a cool Christmas present. Kyle called him back a day or two later and committed.”

Sanders said Dranginis “will probably take a year or two for his body to develop, but he’s got another year of high school. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not 6-5, 210 once he starts growing.”

Dranginis, who has a 3.5 grade-point average, has focused on basketball, but he was previously involved in track and cross country. Sanders said Kyle might high-jump this spring.

Dranginis comes from a sports-oriented family. An older brother played basketball at Blue Mountain Community College. Two older sisters are on the Northwest Nazarene University volleyball team. Cammy recently finished her senior season by earning her fourth All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference selection. Carly just completed her freshman season.

Sanders described Dranginis as quiet and humble. He keeps improving because of his work ethic, the coach said.

“Kyle is such a quiet kid, I haven’t had a chance to get the whole story out of him,” Sanders said of Dranginis’ decision to commit to Gonzaga. “I haven’t talked to him one on one yet. When he went up there for the elite camp, I know he really liked the coaches and atmosphere. He liked the opportunity to play at Gonzaga with all the prestige and success they’ve had and the opportunity to play against some great competition. Those were probably the things that sealed the deal.”

Dranginis had 18 points and six assists in the state title game last March. The Hawks were forced to overtime in all three of their tournament wins. In the championship, Dranginis scored on a slashing drive to the hoop for the game-winning basket. He had a team-high 15 points in the semifinal win over Jerome. He tied for team-high honors with 14 points in a double-overtime victory over Blackfoot in the opening round.

 

 




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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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