BY JEFF FALK
Not sure how many of you out there remember the name ‘Andy Panko’.
If you do, you’ve got an active mind and a fruitful memory. If you don’t, here’s the most important thing to know about him: he’s been an MVP everywhere he’s gone.
Panko, a native of Harrisburg and a 1999 graduate of Lebanon Valley College, was recently named the most valuable player of the Liga ACB professional basketball league in Spain, widely reknowned as the top level of basketball in the world outside of the NBA. While at LVC, Panko was named the NCAA Division Three’s player of the year.
At age 34, Panko put together a monster year for his Spanish team, Lagun Aro, averaging nearly 19 points an outing. Statistically in the league, Panko finished in the top five in the categories of power rating, free throws, fouls drawn, minutes played and field goals.
Twice during the season Panko was named the league’s player of the week.
Panko is hte first American in a decade to capture the ACB’s MVP honor. During that time, former league MVPs like Andres Nocioni, Luis Scola, Marc Gasol and Tiago Splitter have gone on to play in the NBA.
Panko still holds the Flying Dutchmen record for points in a career with 2,515. In 2010, the 6-9 forward was named one of the NCAA’s greatest Division Three players of all time.
Upon graduation, Panko had professional auditions with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers. Later, Panko played for the minor-league North Dakota Wizards, where he was honored as the Continental Basketball Association’s MVP in 2003.
In nine seasons in Spain, Panko has helped Lagun Aro achieve promotion to the top tier of its league, after being named MVP of the LEB Oro division in 2008.