Truth or fiction?
Central Valley High School principal Dan Pangrazio got his shot blocked multiple times by former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant.
It happened in practice.
Pangrazio and Bryant were teammates for two seasons at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia during the 1990s.
“You don’t expect to play with somebody and see them have that type of success,” said Pangrazio, a varsity starter his freshman and sophomore years. “He was always chasing Michael Jordan since high school. He mimicked his game after his. He was a supreme talent. He could play all positions on the court at the high-school level. He was breaking records all the time. His level of expectation for himself was so high. Everybody had to raise their game. He was a great teammate. There were games where he’d have 15 assists. He wanted to win first and foremost.”
Led by Bryant, Lower Merion won the PIAA Class AAAA state championship in 1996.
Pangrazio was a key contributor.
He averaged 14 points per game as a perimeter threat as reported by Philadelphia Inquirer correspondent Jeremy Treatman in a Dec. 9, 1997 article.
“Once he got to be really known, we’d see NBA and top college coaches show up,” Pangrazio said. “We were playing in front of huge crowds. People were lining up down the street to see him play. I knew I was watching greatness. The success we had was amazing.”
Pangrazio grew up in Connecticut prior to moving to Philadelphia.
“My dad changed jobs and we got relocated,” Pangrazio said. “I got to be part of two state championship teams in two different states two consecutive years. It was a pretty incredible high-school experience for me.”
Pangrazio returned to Connecticut for his junior and senior years.
He attended Fairfield Prep, where he averaged 16.5 points per game as the Jesuits captured the CIAC Class LL state title in 1997.
Pangrazio earned a basketball scholarship to NCAA Division-I St. Mary’s College, which is located in Moraga, California.
He ruptured a disc in his back his freshman year.
“That ended my career,” Pangrazio said. “St. Mary’s honored my scholarship.”
Bryant retired from the NBA at the end of the 2015-16 season.
He helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships during his 20-year career.
The league’s third, all-time leading scorer will be eligible to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.
“I’m happy for him to have the success he did,” Pangrazio said. “It was fun to follow his career. When I watched him play on TV, I knew he’d rise to the occasion. His focus was wanting to be the best. He had the talent. He outworked everybody. He never let up. He didn’t have to do that.”
Pangrazio has worked for Ceres Unified School District for seven years.
He was promoted from associate principal to principal of Central Valley in 2015-16.
He was principal at Walter White Elementary School for two years (2012-14).
Pangrazio’s first job with CUSD was with Ceres High, where he was learning director (2010-12).