Gonzaga has been spoiled by great guards and the 2011-2012 season was no exception; fans were spoiled by the early emergence of guards Gary Bell and lights-out shooter Kevin Pangos. David Stockton looked to be the go-to guy after Steven Gray graduated and Demetri Goodson decided to transfer to play football; instead Stockton’s minutes went from an average of 15.6 per game to an extremely charitable 16.8.
During that time Stockton’s stats grew progressively worse in almost every category. His PPG fell from 4.2 to 3.7, shooting percentage dropped from 46% to 38%, turnovers went up from 1.1 to 1.5, and even his free throw percentage plummeted from 83% to a paltry 59%. The only two stats that Stockton improved were his assists (2.1 to 2.4 per game) and 3-point percentage (33% to 39%), which was certainly expected with his increased role. The question remains, with Stockton’s decline why would Coach Mark Few continue to play him? He shouldn’t.
Instead, in the 2012-2013 season Gonzaga fans should expect to see another figure stepping out of the shadows and into the Gonzaga guard lore: Kyle Dranginis. Dranginis is a three-time Idaho Press-Tribune player of the year (POY) and two-time Idaho Gatorade POY (which is something Gonzaga legend Violette only managed once). Dranginis’ great size and length should allow him to play at both guard positions without being a defensive liability, something Gonzaga fans have complained about since Stockton started getting significant playing time.
While Dranginis has yet to prove himself at a collegiate level, he huge upside potential and an opportunity for greatness. Rarely has Gonzaga ever had the potential for three guards at this elite level. Dranginis is the type of heady intelligent player who could have an incredible career under Mark Few: he plays smart, smooth, and calm.
The question remains, however, will Few give him the chance?