By Mike Deak
INDIANAPOLIS – It has only happened once in Crossroads League history. Kyle Mangas is hoping to be next in line to get a shot at the NBA.
Per Crossroads League sports information director Seth Mikel, only Durand Walker has made the jump from the Crossroads League to the NBA, from the then-Mid-Central College Conference and Marion College (Indiana Wesleyan University) to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1982 Draft. Back then, there were 10 rounds and Walker landed in the 10th round as the first selection of the round by the Cavs.
The Indiana Wesleyan Hall of Famer did not get into an NBA game in his career, however, which leaves the door potentially open for Mangas to add another ‘first’ on his lengthy résumé.
Mangas did about everything he could do at Indiana Wesleyan. The illustrious four-year career for Mangas, who already was a living legend as a basketball superstar at Warsaw Community High School, gives him credibility as a possible NBA pick.
Mangas was a three-time Crossroads League Athlete of the Year with his latest award earned in June. He led the Wildcats to four Crossroads League championships, to which he was the four-time league MVP, as well a two-time NAIA Player of the Year. The 2018 NAIA national champion was also named the 2020 Bevo Francis Award winner, signifying overall excellence in the NAIA.
Mangas was just the second player ever, joining the late Steve Platt, in scoring over 3,000 points in his career, and had a magnificent senior season. Averaging 29.5 points per game, Mangas shot 60 percent from the floor, 39 percent from three-point range and 85 percent from the free throw line while contributing 7.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per night as IWU was ranked in the top five for majority of the 2020-21 season. The Wildcats entered the NAIA tournament as the No. 1 overall seed before being upset by fellow Crossroads foe Bethel in what would be Mangas’ final game in the red and gray.
For his career, Mangas was a 56 percent shooter from the floor and hit 307 three-pointers. He made 81 percent of his 722 total free throw attempts, but also hauled in over 800 rebounds and dished out 544 assists as a combo guard/forward.
Mangas was a standout with the Tigers as a prep superstar. The 2017 graduate finished his Warsaw career with 1,438 points and was an Indiana All-Star, helping the Tigers to a regional championship in 2016 and a sectional title in 2017.
Mangas has worked out for a trio of NBA teams, including the Indiana Pacers, in hopes of getting on the radar for the 2021 NBA Draft, set for July 29. The Pacers have the 13th pick in the first round, but also picks 54 and 60 in the second round. The Pistons, another of the teams that Mangas has worked out with, have the first overall pick in the draft, but also picks 37, 42 and 52 in the second round. Mangas was one of a half dozen players in the workout with the Pacers.
In an interview with the Pacers last week, Mangas noted, “It means everything growing up and watching the Pacers and coming down to games at Banker’s Life is one thing. Then actually being here and getting to work out for them and seeing the coaching staff and the facilities. Being from Indiana, we are really passionate about basketball. It was awesome.
Added about the NAIA level of play and translating that to higher level competition, “It was awesome. We don’t get the national spotlight at IWU, even though it’s really good basketball. It was just fun coming into today and competing against those guys. But also, having those guys on my team, just awesome to get the opportunity.”