What he does when he has the basketball in his hands is pretty special, but maybe what sets George Mangas apart is what he does when he doesn’t have the ball.
The 6-foot, 3-inch Shawnee junior is constantly in motion. He looks like he is thinking a play ahead in the chess game between offenses and defenses. And he finds paths to the basket and angles for shots that not many other people do.
Mangas, who averaged 30.2 points and 5.2 rebounds a game this season, is the Player of the Year on The Lima News boys basketball Dream Team.
He shot 75 percent on two-point field goals and 69 percent overall from the field. He connected on 36 percent of his 3-pointers and 77 percent of his free throws.
He was the Division II Player of the Year on the All-Ohio team and also was the Western Buckeye League and District 8 Player of the Year for Shawnee, which went 25-0 and had a goal of finishing its season in the state tournament before the coronavirus ended that dream.
“His basketball IQ is through the roof. Moving without the ball is a lost art for kids and George had that ability,” Shawnee coach Mark Triplett said. “He is constantly moving, getting under the defense.”
The other part of the equation is that Mangas’ teammates excelled at getting him the ball when he got open in a halfcourt offense and when he sprinted down the floor on a break.
“Our guys are so used to playing with him and practicing with him that they knew where he was going to be before he got there. It was sort of a combination of our team chemistry mixed with George’s natural instincts that paid off over and over again,” Triplett said.
Mangas averaged 17 points a game as a sophomore last year on a Shawnee team which saw its season end in the regional championship.
He says offseason work in the weight room played a big role in scoring nearly twice as many points as last season and in being the second-leading rebounder for the Indians.
“I was 170 pounds my sophomore year and I put on 20 pounds to 190 for my junior year. I was in the weight room getting stronger in my lower body. I just kept pushing and pushing and got more explosive. I could jump higher and be a better post threat and body my way inside more. That’s really what went into that,” he said.
Mangas, who has his sights set on playing NCAA Division I basketball, is working to improve again this offseason.
“I want to get a better (mid-range) jump shot so I don’t have to rely on always going inside in the paint. That way I can just pull up instead of having everybody crashing on me at once,” he said.
That determination to improve is built in to Mangas’ basketball DNA.
“George is a kid that, you tell him to work on something, and he’s already working on it,” Triplett said.
“He’s going to continue to work on things he knows he can get better at and he can just continue to take steps forward. He’s always fine tuning his game and getting better. Even things he is really good at, he’s continuing to find ways to improve.”
One improvement is beyond Mangas’ control but certainly on his mind. The Indians will have all of their starters back except point guard John Barker from this year’s team, which won the district championship for a second consecutive season but then never got to play a regional or state game.
“We’ll definitely have that chip on our shoulder and have that unfinished business in our minds, that we didn’t get to go to Columbus like we wanted to this year,” Mangas said.
The other members of The Lima News 2020 boys basketball Dream Team are: John Barker (Shawnee), Luke Erhart (Kalida), Kalen Etzler (Crestview), Josiah Fulcher (Lima Senior), Blake Reynolds (Columbus Grove), Quinn Sanders (Upper Scioto Valley), Jamir Simpson (Lima Senior), Owen Treece (Van Wert) and Ben Westrick (Ottawa-Glandorf).
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.