MARION – Life has been pretty good at the top. Kyle Mangas, however, is preferring to not sit atop the mountain and enjoy the view.
Despite being named the Crossroads League Male Athlete of the Year, Mangas isn’t settling for what many would see as a summit. There is still plenty to accomplish. And Mangas is approaching those tasks with the same attitude that has gotten him into the position he is in.
“I mean, I was excited, I can’t lie about that,” Mangas said Tuesday afternoon. “I just tried to stay humble about it. Much of this award really is about the other people, though. My family, my teammates, my coaches. I have to thank them for pushing me to reach the level to win an award like that. I can’t do it without them.”
Mangas’ sophomore basketball season with Indiana Wesleyan was much like his freshman year, although much different. It was the same in that the Wildcats were ranked near the top of the NAIA poll, and Mangas was again among the national leaders in several statistical categories. His 23.6 points per night and 801 total points ranked him seventh nationally, and he was ranked within the top 50 nationally in six other stats, including a team-leading 48 steals. Mangas was the Crossroads League Player of the Year for the second time, unheard of for a freshman to win, then back it up again as a sophomore.
Where the season was different was Wesleyan’s finish. After the Wildcats shored up a brutal Crossroads League tournament championship, the team entered the NAIA National Tournament as the defending champion and the No. 1 overall seed. But those dreams of a back-to-back story were dashed in the national semi-finals against Crossroads League rival Marian, leaving Mangas and his mates watching the finals. Where the character of Mangas came into play was what happened just hours later, as his old Warsaw Tiger teammate, Paul Marandet, and Spring Arbor rose to the national title, beating Marian in the final to win the program’s first-ever championship.
“Paul is a great guy and an awesome basketball player,” offered Mangas. “That night I reached out to him to congratulate him. It brought me back to when he was the point guard with me in high school. Paul and Spring Arbor earned that title, and I was really happy for him. Yeah, obviously, we would have liked for it to have been us, but I was very happy for Paul to get that title.”
Mangas’ run at Indiana Wesleyan, and really since his sophomore year at Warsaw, has been pretty incredible. Playing alongside Marandet, the ‘M&M Boys’ took Warsaw basketball to a semi-state and Mangas put the Tigers on his back in a regional finals appearance his senior year. Not missing a beat, Mangas was the Crossroads Player of the Year as a freshman en route to a national championship appearance among a throng of awards and a different level of notoriety. That didn’t change much as a sophomore, and now carrying the same level of expectation and workload demands heading into junior year.
“I’ve always been pretty shy, so being recognized and all of that can be pretty tough,” Mangas said with his usual overtones of modesty. “It pushes me out of my comfort zone. I really like Indiana Wesleyan and will do what I can to promote them whenever I can. But I haven’t had anything crazy happen, no mobs of people chasing me for an autograph or anything. Everyone kind of knows everyone here on campus.”
The core of his motivation to maintain his high level of excellence comes from a strong, athletic family. Both parents, Tim and Ann, were successful athletes in their day, as was older brother, Jake, who Kyle points to as the one who put the ‘tough’ in his lexicon.
“I came from a very competitive family growing up, but Jake would beat me in everything,” Kyle said with a laugh. “I’d tag along with him to a lot of his basketball camps and open gyms, and playing with the bigger and stronger kids really taught me how to play with more physical players. Coming (to IWU) as a freshman, those games against the older kids really taught me how to work with older players and use more strength in my game.”
This summer, Mangas is stepping into another completely different comfort level, taking an internship with Charles Schwab in Indianapolis. Looking to get into the finance field after college, Mangas’ plan isn’t to rely on basketball stardom, but to become part of the ‘other 95 percent who don’t make it.’
Kyle Mangas is proving basketball stars don’t have to shill shoes and sign max contracts to be effective. There’s still a lot left that the Crossroads League Male Athlete of the Year hasn’t shown yet. And that’s a scary thought for the rest of the league, and the country.