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Kevin Pangos leads GU sweep of WCC honors

Mark Few, Kyle Wiltjer and Gary Bell Jr. grab top awards

UPDATED: Tue., March 3, 2015

Kevin Pangos is the WCC player of the year and made the All-WCC first team for the fourth straight year. (Colin Mulvany)
Kevin Pangos is the WCC player of the year and made the All-WCC first team for the fourth straight year. (Colin Mulvany)

What happened with Tuesday’s release of the All-WCC teams and individual awards pretty much reflected what happened during the regular season.

Seventh-ranked Gonzaga, which captured the conference title by four games, swept the individual awards, led by senior guard Kevin Pangos being named Player of the Year.

Senior Gary Bell Jr. won Defensive Player of the Year, junior Kyle Wiltjer was named Newcomer of the Year and Mark Few earned his 10th Coach of the Year honor.

“He (Pangos) is the most valuable player,” Few said. “If you take him off our team we have some problems.”

Pangos, Wiltjer and junior center Przemek Karnowski made the 10-player first team. Bell, senior Byron Wesley and freshman Domantas Sabonis were selected to the five-player second team. Sabonis also was named to the All-Freshman team.

The Zags have had at least three first-team selections three of the last four years and 10 of Few’s 16 seasons. Gonzaga swept the individual awards in 2005 and 2001.

Pangos made the first team for the fourth consecutive year. He’s one of five players in WCC history to earn that distinction and the first Zag since Blake Stepp (2000-04).

“Big surprise,” said Pangos, who averages 11.6 points and 5 assists and ranks second nationally with a 3.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. “I’m glad because other guys got recognized. I’m also glad the WCC recognized the importance of winning because that’s what everyone sacrificed on this team for is winning.”

Bell, who played a major role in holding WCC leading scorer Tyler Haws to 10 points Saturday and two-time All-WCC guard Johnny Dee to six points on Thursday, is the third Zag in four years to be named top defender, joining Mike Hart in 2013 and Robert Sacre in 2012.

Bell routinely guards the opponent’s best perimeter scorer. Few called Bell’s attention to detail “pretty remarkable.”

“I’m a team guy, I’ve been a team guy my whole life,” Bell said. “I’ve played both sides of the ball my whole life.”

Wiltjer leads Gonzaga at 16.5 points per game. He’s shooting 53 percent, including 45 percent from 3-point range. He’s GU’s first Newcomer of the Year since Pangos won the award in 2012.

Karnowski, who is shooting 60.5 percent, averages 10.5 points and 5.9 rebounds. He was honorable mention last season and All-Freshman team in 2013.

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