NEW YORK -- There is no great lineage of Canadian point guards. There was nothing, there was
Or at least don't
Joseph, a 6-foot-2, sweet-shooting point guard with an NBA future, has played the past two seasons at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev. He'll soon make a decision between Minnesota (where his brother,
Kabongo, a 6-2, five-star recruit, is considered the next elite Canadian point after Joseph, and currently plays for St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J. The trend has been for Canada's best talent to relocate to the states to develop -- Joseph, Kabongo and the country's best 2009 point guard,
Pangos ran the point for one of the teams in the Jordan Brand International Game, which preceded the main All-Star game at Madison Square Garden and wasn't televised. His coach there was former Arizona guard (and assistant coach)
Simon said the talk about Nash was both natural and -- understandably -- unfair for a kid who's just 17.
Pangos is also the lone white player of the bunch, which undoubtedly makes the label even more inevitable. He also "studied Nash a lot" when he was younger, owns a Nash jersey, has a Nash poster in his bedroom, got his picture taken with Nash at a Raptors-Suns game this season, used to wear No. 13, has a sister (
"I think Kevin is the best point guard we've seen in Canada since Steve Nash. He's a very intelligent player who does a great job running the point. But he can also score. He basically has a complete game right now. He's a treat to watch. ... He's so good now, how much better is he going to get? He's just lacking a little physical strength, which should come in the next few years. I think he'll be a major Division I player."
It was repeated during one of Pangos' games that was on TSN (Canada's version of ESPN), and, Kevin said, "It has really blown up since." His father,
To that end, there's plenty about Pangos that
Pangos no longer shoots exactly like Nash (from the side), either, nor does he wear No. 13 with any regularity (he was No. 6 in the Jordan Game, and No. 4 on his provincial team). And he's far more exposed, as a recruit, than Nash ever was: A major part of the Nash legend is that he wasn't actively pursued by U.S. colleges, with Santa Clara being the only school that bit on the game footage that his high school coach sent out in hopes of luring scholarship offers. Pangos is already being chased by Syracuse (Rautins' alma mater), Gonzaga (whose roster is stocked with Canadians), Michigan and Cincinnati, in addition to Santa Clara. Because Canadian players often reclassify class years when jumping to the U.S. educational system, he'll be faced with the decision of either doing one prep-school season in the U.S., which would put him in the Class of 2012, or jumping straight to college after his senior year at Dr. Denison, which would put him in the Class of 2011.
Prior to being picked for the Jordan game, he generated substantial buzz by winning MVP honors for the Canadian club team that won the Victor Rho Milan International Tournament in Italy last May, starring for Canada's Cadet national team last summer and then making a trip back to Italy for an exhibition tour with the
Pangos isn't a permanent member of the squad yet; Rautins just wanted him to experience what life was like at the senior level. But during a blowout loss to the Italians, Pangos did become the youngest player ever to appear in a game for the Canadian national team. The previous record-holder was none other than Rautins, who was also on Canada's senior roster at 16, and was the first Canadian ever to be taken in the first round of the NBA draft.
"I had to think about putting him in," Rautins said. "Because that was my title, and I had to decide, 'Do I want to give this up?' "
Pangos subbed into the game with four minutes left against Italy, taking a memorable shot over a former No. 1 overall pick of the Raptors. "I shot it in
As the youngest member of that Canadian squad, by far, Pangos had players assigned to babysit him (Rautins told them, "If you lose this kid, you're done"), and endured some good-natured rookie hazing. He was forced to wear a Hello Kitty backpack around during the tour, and teammates heckled him mercilessly for the way he was received by the Italian locals. "All of these little girls there figured out that we had this young stud on the team," Rautins said, "so every time we walked into the gym, he's posing for pictures with five or six girls. Guys were busting his chops
Yet another way, it seems, in which the "best since Nash" label can be a blessing