Basketball / Player profile / Jeremy Pargo proves a good fit with Galil's up-tempo style
"In college I was mostly a passer but here I can shoot as well as pass," explained Galil/Gilboa's Jeremy Pargo after his team manhandled Barak Netanya 109-82 on Monday evening.
Not only is Pargo shooting in his first season of professional basketball, but he's doing it better than practically everyone else in the Israeli Super League. Galil/Gilboa's 23-year-old, 1.88-meter guard is averaging 20.8 points a game, slightly less than league-leading Marco Killingsworth of Netanya.
Pargo is one of the leaders of a surprisingly strong Galil club, which is in a three-way tie for second place in the standings with a 6-2 record. By the second week of the season, Pargo had already gained national attention by torching Hapoel Jerusalem for 36 points, in a huge overtime upset of Guy Goodes' squad.
A native of Chicago, Pargo is the youngest of three siblings.
"My older brother was my idol and role model," says Pargo, referring to Jannero Pargo of the NBA's Chicago Bulls. After a successful stint with the New Orleans Hornets, Jannero had a one-year hiatus last year playing on David Blatt's Dynamo Moscow squad. But Moscow was too cold even by Chicago standards, says Jeremy, and this year Jannero is back in the NBA.
So far, Jeremy Pargo seems to be negotiating the usually steep learning curve from college basketball to European pro leagues with relative ease. Pargo credited coach Oded Katash for his successful adjustment.
"It's because of the coach," says Pargo emphatically. "He has incredible basketball knowledge and I learn from him all the time. He puts a lot of emphasis on pace and always has us playing at a pace that's comfortable for us."
The biggest adjustment Pargo has made has been off the court.
"I'm from Chicago and today I'm living in Gan Ner," he says, referring to the small, remote community where Galil plays its home games.
After a highly touted schoolboy career, Pargo played college ball at tiny Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, in the Western College Conference. For most of the 20th century, Gonzaga was known mostly for its famous alumnus, the singer Bing Crosby.
In 1984, the Utah Jazz drafted an unknown point guard named John Stockton, who played college basketball for Gonzaga and would go on to become one of the greatest playmakers in NBA history. But at the time Jazz coach Frank Layden quipped, "I'm not sure whether we're getting Stockton from Gonzaga or Gonzaga from Stockton."
However, since 1999, Gonzaga has been the college basketball version of the little engine that could. The premier of the mid-majors, the school has appeared in the NCAA championship tournament in each of the last 10 years, reaching the Elite Eight in 1998-'89 and the Sweet Sixteen on five occasions. In 2004 the Bulldogs finished their season ranked third in the AP polls. The school has also sent five players to the NBA, including former college basketball player of the year Adam Morrison.
Pargo was a star and team leader during his four years at Gonzaga. His best season was his junior year, when he was named WCC Player of the Year. At season's end, Pargo entered the NBA draft, but decided to return to Gonzaga at the last minute. During his final year, his production dipped slightly to 10 points and five assists per game.
Pargo was not selected in this year's draft but played for the Detroit Pistons' Summer League team. After his release by the Pistons, Pargo received an attractive offer from Galil, which he accepted after consulting with Will Bynum (a good friend from Chicago) and former Galil star Andrew Kennedy.
In Galil's lopsided victory over Netanya, the northerners were an impressive 17-for-33 from three-point range, and an astonishing 30 of 39 field goals came off assists - including seven by Pargo. Considering Galil's up-tempo pace and emphasis on team play, Pargo seems a very suitable fit for the surprisingly good contenders from the north.