VIDEO: Zack Pangallo Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – To get set for Carson-Newman men's basketball season, a two-part series will break down C-N's position groups. This second part breaks down the Eagles' guards with assistance from sophomore Zack Pangallo (Newport, Ky.).
Carson-Newman's backcourt returns every member who started for the Eagles last year. On top of that, head coach Chuck Benson brought in a guard-laden signing class that has bolstered the position.
"We bring in a lot of new guys," Pangallo said. "They are all athletic so they bring a lot to the table. Reece (Anderson) is so athletic and can get to the rim so easily. Dawan (Perry) has good bounce and a good first step. Cam (Holmes) can handle and defend. Then Shaun (Jones) is a junior who knows the college mindset and what it takes. Malik (Abraham) is a deadeye shooter. He can pull up from wherever."
The backcourt already features arguably the South Atlantic Conference and Southeast Region's best player in junior Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.).
A first team All-South Atlantic Conference selection, and a first team NABC and second team D2CCA All-Region pick last year and a preseason All-America from Division II Bulletin this year, Clark was second in the league in scoring with 21.6 points per game a year ago.
He actually led the league in total points scored with 626 and was second in steals with 57. His 626 points are the most any Eagle has scored in a single season since Carson-Newman joined the SAC in hoops in 1989-90 and ranks just outside the top 10 for the league's all-time single season scoring list.
Along the way, Clark dropped 30 on four teams this season, including a career best 39 in the Eagles' 102-88 win at Mars Hill. That day, Clark went 14-of-20 from the field and matched his career high with five steals. Clark has more 30-point games (six) in his first two seasons at Mossy Creek than the program's fourth all-time leading scorer, Ish Sanders, had in his entire career (five).
"Charles is still the same type of athlete that he was last year," Pangallo said. "If you can say that, he's gotten more athletic this year. He can get to the basket whenever he wants. He's a preseason All-American and his confidence should be sky high."
Clark and Pangallo were the Eagles primary backcourt duo last season. A SAC all-freshman team selection, Pangallo was the third highest scoring freshman in the league with 8.8 points per game and the fifth highest scoring Eagle for the season. He topped out at 20 points in a loss at home to Tusculum when he went 7-of-16 from the field. Pangallo led Carson-Newman in assists with 3.5 per game and handed out at least five helpers on 11 occasions.
He set his career high for assists with eight as he helped guide Carson-Newman back from a 21-point deficit at Newberry. That game also featured the highlight of Carson-Newman's season when Pangallo banked in a three from the top of the key as time expired to give the Eagles the win. He shot 43 percent from the field and 45 percent from three.
"So much of it for me is being smarter," Pangallo said. "I made a lot of freshman mistakes last year. This year my mentality is about being a smart guard. Turnovers were a problem last year. This year we want to make it different."
The Eagles also return Taylor Hawkins (Madisonville, Tenn.), who played a role as a key reserve last year for the Eagles.
The newcomers feature Valdosta State transfer Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.), juco transfer Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) and then freshmen Cameron Holmes (Fort Mill, S.C.), Dawan Perry (Detroit, Mich.), Reece Anderson (Douglasville, Ga.); plus Karns product and senior Kevin Tucker (Knoxville, Tenn.).
"We're deeper I think," Pangallo said. "We weren't guard deep last year, we weren't really deep at all. Now we have a bunch of people who can get a rebound and go. It really should help with our transition offense."
As a sophomore at Valdosta State Jones appeared in 17 games while starting a pair. He averaged 10.5 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from three. He also snagged 4.7 rebounds per game.
Jones dropped 30 on North Alabama on 62 percent shooting. He turned around from that game and followed it up with a 27-point effort against Alabama-Huntsville on 71 percent shooting. He hit double digits seven times and 20 points on three occasions.
Abraham was a first team all-conference guard for FSCJ as well as the league's co-rookie of the year. He set a school record for threes made in a game with eight while setting the program's record for threes made in a single season with 97. Abraham averaged 14.4 points while shooting 43 percent from the field and 41 percent from three for FSCJ.
A three-point marksman, Holmes knocked down 142 triples at a 41 percent clip in his high school career. In his senior season, he led the Falcons in scoring, assists, steals and blocks.
While playing for Mark Bray at Detroit Country Day, Dawan Perry averaged 14 points for four assists and four rebounds per game. After graduating from Detroit Country Day, Perry attended Moravian Prep where he averaged 14 points, four assists, and four rebounds a game. He received MVP honors at the fifth annual Legacy Nissan Classic Game.
Reece Anderson stuffed the stat sheet for coach Hollis Bethea at Douglas County High School with 10.3 points, 3.3 boards, 6.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game with the Tigers. He was an All-Region selection for region 3-AAAAAA and helped the Tigers to the state playoffs. He was named the region's defensive player of the year.
"When teams try to pressure us, we won't have one true point, we'll have a bunch of different guys who can push the ball up the floor," Pangallo said. "That goes back to the depth and the quality of the position this year."
The Eagles' guards will be on display for the first time on Nov. 11 when C-N takes on Southern Wesleyan at 8:30 p.m. at the Lander Tipoff Classic. The game will be broadcast on the ESN on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.