Several off-season developments have peaked the interest of Zag Nation. Some of the highlights include; the addition of Przemek Karnowski and whether or not he can fill in for the loss of Robert Sacre, how Kelly Olynyk will respond coming off a redshirt, and who will step up at the wing with the losses of Mathis Keita and Mathis Monninghoff.
But, what has intrigued me the most is the answer to who is going to be backing up our talented backcourt duo of Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos. The answer may very well be the combo guard Kyle Dranginis, who is coming off his redshirt year and is poised to take a significant role in GU’s backcourt this season.
Hailing out of Nampa, Idaho, Kyle attended Skyview High where he was a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year and two-time State Player of the Year. He scored 54 points in one game to set the state record. He also scored the winning lay up vs. Pocatello in overtime to win the State Championship as a sophomore. There were several D1 schools who were recruiting him including; Gonzaga, Utah, Utah State, Boise State, Washington State, and Notre Dame.
High accolades indeed, but because Idaho is not known as a hotbed for D1 talent, and that is where these accomplishments were realized, many wondered if he was ready to start on a perennial top 20 team. The general consensus was that he needed to redshirt in order to work on his defense, getting bigger, stronger, and to learn the system. He has spent the past year working on his game. Did it help? Will he show improvement, and that he belongs on a D1 court?
I recently had the opportunity to interview Kyle and talk to him about his progression and redshirt year. Hopefully, this gives us a better feel for what we might expect from him going forward.
We’ll call him “Draino” during the interview. He likes the moniker.
Gaz- Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions.
Draino- No problem. I just finished working out so this is a great time.
Gaz- Do you feel you made the right decision coming to GU?
Draino- Yes, definitely. I came in with such a great class too, with Gary Bell and Kevin Pangos. I really like it here and I’m having a great time.
Gaz- I wanted to ask you about your redshirt year. You were the man in high school winning the Idaho State P.O.Y. and Gatorade P.O.Y. You commit to GU, get here, and it’s decided you should redshirt. Did you agree with the decision?
Draino- It was a really good decision for me to redshirt because I didn’t have as much experience coming in playing with high skilled guys like Kevin, who played on Team Canada, and Gary coming from Seattle where it’s a bigger basketball area and the competition level is higher.
Gaz- What did the coaches say to you about redshirting?
Draino- Coaches Few and Giacoletti talked to me about it a couple different times, they thought I could have helped the team out last year, but they also thought I could make more of an impact going forward if I redshirted.
Gaz- What have you accomplished during your redshirt?
Draino- Just being in the gym everyday with the guys. Getting the extra redshirt workouts in, trying to get better every day. Getting more comfortable with the system and working on my defense.
Gaz- You are listed at about 6’4 to 6’5 and 175 lbs. on most scouting sites. Has that changed?
Draino- Yes, I have not grown much, maybe a quarter of an inch and I am now 6’5 ¼ but I have added 25 pounds and am just over 200 lbs. I’ve gotten stronger and bulked up.
Gaz- What weakness in your game have you improved on the most?
Draino- I needed to be a physical presence on the court and being in the weight room has paid off a lot. Because I came in at 175 lbs. it was necessary for me to get stronger, be more of a physical presence on the court.
Gaz- How often do you work out?
Draino- Redshirts have to lift in the weight room every day before practice. It has helped a lot, and will continue to help in the long run as well. We do a lot of lift workouts and agility stuff.
Gaz- I understand you work out with Kelly Olynyk; can you tell us about that? Did it help with your decision to redshirt that he also redshirted, but as a junior?
Draino- Yes, a little bit. I mean, if he could redshirt, why couldn’t I? Him and I are kind of buddies because as redshirts we’re always working out together and hung out together, he has been a mentor to me and he really helped me a lot. I think people are going to be surprised at how much better he’s gotten. It’s going to be exciting to see him.
Gaz- Robert Sacre was also a redshirt and he just signed with the Lakers, so it worked out pretty good for him too, which reminds me…did you hear that today Adam Morrison was given a guaranteed 1-year contract with the Blazers?
Draino- Oh yeah, we were practicing with him today, playing pick-up, and we were all really excited and happy for him when we heard the news. We just got done praying with him actually. We’re all having prayers that he would find favor and do well.
Gaz- Wow, that’s really cool man. What was his mood like? Was he pretty pumped?
Draino- Actually, he didn’t really talk to all the guys about it, but he talked to the coaches a little bit.
Gaz- Can you defend Adam?
Draino- (laughs) I can’t defend him at all. I don’t know anyone that can. You just try to stay in front of him and hope his shot doesn’t go in, lol.
Gaz- You can shoot pretty well yourself and they call you Draino because of it. Do you like the nickname Draino? Did you get it because you shot 40% from deep at Skyview High School?
Draino- Yeah, lol, that’s a good nickname. I like it. Actually, I think it was closer to 44%.
Gaz- Are you healthy, any nagging injuries?
Draino- No, I have been lucky and very fortunate in that respect so hopefully I can keep that going.
Gaz- what are your expectations this season in regards to playing time? Will you play some point or 2/3?
Draino- I don’t think I’ll be playing any at the point. Possibly at the 2 or 3. I really don’t know yet. But, I am just excited to get the season started and hope to get the opportunity to get in there, and get the chance to do whatever I can to help the team out.
Gaz- I wanted to ask you about Karnowski. I hear he’s pretty big and has quite an appetite. Has he eaten any of the players yet?
Draino- (he laughs) He is humungous! I didn’t think I’d see any players much bigger than Rob (Sacre) but he’s definitely a load.
Gaz- I heard that he moved Sacre around like a 3 guard in practice. That sounds incredible for a freshman going against the WCC defensive POY. Is it true?
Draino- I actually watched some of the practice and he is a really wide body. I don’t know if he pushed him around like a 2 guard but he was definitely moving him around (laughs).
Gaz- What was the experience like when you first stepped onto the Kennel floor for a game?
Draino- Oh man, there’s nothing else like it. Talk about loud (laughs). I remember my first time was at Midnight Madness and I was pretty rattled hearing that. But, they’re all out there cheering for you. So, it’s nice to have all that support.
Gaz- How is the team chemistry this year? Who do you hang out with and where do you guys like to go eat?
Draino- It’s really good. I am roommates with Gary bell and we live right next door to Kevin Pangos and Przemek Karnowski. Drew Barham and others, we all hang out and bum around. We like eating at Bruchi’s, Chipotle near campus, and going to all the free bbqs on campus. All the guys, we get along really great.
Gaz- How far can this team go this year?
Draino- We were a very good team last year but we have a lot of guys back this year as well as some additions. I feel the growth of Gary Bell and Kevin Pangos along with all the practicing is going to show. We are communicating very well on the court and no one is selfish, we share the ball very well. That’s a really good thing to see on a team. I’m just excited to get going. I think we can do very well.
We appreciate and thank Kyle Dranginis for taking the time to answer some questions and letting the fans get an inside look.
Follow Draino on Twitter: http://twitter.com/KDranginis3