It takes a special kind of player to wear double zero. Kodiak senior Jemuel Mangalus fits the bill.
“I picked the number out for him when I put him on the team,” KHS boys basketball coach David Anderson said. “I said, ‘you look like a double zero,’ and he went, ‘what?’ It is just a number that is different.”
It is so unusual of a jersey number that only 28 players in the history of the National Basketball Association have donned No. 00, according to basketball-reference.com. Anderson said he believes Mangalus is the only current high school hoops player in Alaska to sport double zero.
“I have embraced the number,” Mangalus said. “It is something different. People will remember.”
Mangalus will be remembered for a lot more than his jersey number. He has been a bright spot in a season where Kodiak is 5-15 and has failed to win two consecutive games.
With his ability to slash through the lane and get to the free-throw line, the left-hander is averaging a team-best 12.7 points per game, which includes three 20-plus point performances. He has also made 28 3-pointers, second on the team to Billy Alcaide’s 32.
“When he is on his game, he is as good as anybody,” Anderson said.
When junior all-conference guard Alec Canete-Hall transferred to East Anchorage, Mangalus knew his role on the team would change, and it has. He has transitioned from off-guard to point guard, but more importantly hw has become a leader on a team that features four juniors and one sophomore.
“I look up to him,” Alcaide said. “He is like a big brother to me. As an individual he has grown a lot, and that is why he is the captain this year.”
Mangalus has come a long ways from his first introduction to varsity basketball.
With Kodiak down three points in the final seconds of a 2012 Northern Lights Conference tournament semifinal game against Palmer, he had the ball stolen from him at half court, which ended the Bears’ hopes at getting to the state tournament.
Even though Mangalus scored a team-high 12 points in the loss, he couldn’t shake that play from his memory.
“I felt like I let my team down, let the seniors down,” he said. “They brought me back up and encouraged me to play harder. They told me I was a sophomore and I was competing out there. That gave me the motivation to keep working hard.”
He became a starter the next year and averaged 6.2 points on a team that won the program’s first NLC title since 2001.
“He has been a surprise,” Anderson said. “We knew he had the potential two years ago when I put him in regional games. “He has become a team leader and directs guys out there. They follow his suit. If he is playing hard, they are playing hard.”
Mangalus plays hard for 32 minutes, as he very seldom comes off the floor. He is not sure where his energy comes from. It might come from his sprinting background as he is a member of Kodiak’s track team.
“In practice I die in the first four minutes, but in a game you just feel that adrenaline,” he said. “I feel like I have to be on the court.”
And when he is on the court, it is almost a guarantee that he is the best player with the No. 00 on his uniform.
Derek Clarkston is a staff writer at the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact him at (907) 486-3227, ext. 625.