April 4, 2015

Manning a two-sporter

Kevin McCarthy

Whether it's a three-ball from 21 feet or three strikes from 60 feet, six inches away, Sheldon High's Matt Manning is your multi-sport man.

photo of Matt Manning

Known early on for his basketball shooting ability, the 6-foot-5 Manning's baseball participation took a gigantic leap forward last summer. So much so, he gave a verbal commitment to Loyola Marymount University at the beginning of this year.

“My freshman and sophomore years were mostly basketball,” he recalled. “Last summer, I picked up pitching”

Note to readers: that's what is known as an understatement.

"They [scouts and the like) tell me I throw naturally, that I have a fresh arm, bullets in the gun as the saying goes.” Standing 77 inches high is also a major plus. “Being taller than most pitchers, I have more velocity. It's just starting to get hot for me.” In a 2014 measurement, his fastball registered at 89 miles per hour.

Why he went with baseball is simple -- “I have a higher ceiling [in that sport].” On his non pitching days, he plays in the outfield.

But the 2016 prospect is equally proud of his evolution in basketball, having finished this season at a team-leading 14.6 points plus 4.9 rebounds a game. “I played JV as a freshman and was just a catch-and-shoot guy. Now, I'm more of a scoring and rebounding option. I'm working to be more of a leader and also play at the four and the five.” He buried six treys in the season-ending loss to Berkeley High on his way to 20 points plus went for 23 and 10 boards in a mid-February victory versus Pleasant Grove High. Manning is ranked #20 in the latest Nor Cal Preps Boys Basketball Top 40.

Known as the son of a former NBA draftee and longtime professional player (Rick) and a 6-foot-6 brother (Ryan) who just finished his freshman season at Air Force, Manning will be playing with Lakeshow this spring and summer.

Here's Lakeshow Coach Joey Fuca on Manning: “Matt is a pleasure to coach. He is the ultimate competitor, comes from a basketball background and he has the work ethic as well. He'll will be a winner in either sport.”

If at all possible, Manning would like to play both baseball and basketball in college. In 2015, the Lions hoops team concluded the season on March 6 in the West Coast Conference tournament while the baseball season began on February 13.