Co-Written By Chris Blanchette
Basketball has always been an American game, but it’s moving closer to Canada. Just 177 kilometers from the Canadian border lies Spokane, Washington – the home of Gonzaga University and the second home of Canadian basketball.
The university has housed Canadian basketball players Kelly Olynyk and Robert Sacre. Both were successfully drafted into the NBA, with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers respectfully.
Now the red and white torch has been passed to point guard Kevin Pangos, the Gonzaga junior who hails from Holling Landing, Ontario. But those who have passed him the torch remain on his mind: he draws inspiration from the success of Olynyk and Sacre.
“It makes the dream more believable,” Pangos tells Last Word On Sports.“It seems more possible for younger kids to make it [to the NBA] and it’s cool to see those guys be really successful.”
Last year Pangos, along with his teammate Olynyk, was part of the Gonzaga team that was at one point ranked in the top spot in the AP Top 25 Polls. This marked the first time in the school’s history that Gonzaga’s Men’s basketball team had been ranked first in the country.
This year, Gonzaga has posted a 25-6 record and clinched the WCC regular season conference title. So far, Pangos is on pace for his best ever season. He averages 14.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists, all career bests.
Other Canadian players within the NCAA are accomplishing similar feats. Players such as Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis, have led their respective teams to high rankings in the AP Top 25 Polls in 2014. Wichita State’s Nick Wiggins is part of the undefeated and number two ranked team in the country.
When asked about the large impact Canadian players are having on great college teams he said, “I think it’s a great stepping-stone for us to try and be one of the top countries in the world.”
Furthermore even if the play all over the country, there is still a bond shared by all Canadian players.
“A lot of us play against each other in the NCAA,” says Pangos. “Even if I don’t know them, I kind of feel that connection with them when I’m watching them just because they are Canadian. You’re always rooting for the Canadians.”
Later this month, Pangos will lead his team into March Madness with the goal of capturing the national championship for Gonzaga. Whether they win or not, Canada is undoubtedly well represented in college basketball.
Interested in writing for LWOS? We are looking for enthusiastic, talented writers to join our (insert sport) writing team. Visit our“Write for Us” page for very easy details in how you can get started today!