August 13, 2011

Manley does it the hard way

Kevin McCarthy

He did it. Castlemont's Devareaux Manley turned conventional wisdom on its head and will soon find himself enrolled at Kent State in Ohio.

Yes, Manley could have rolled up into a ball, crying 'woe is me' after not receiving a D-1 offer when his high school senior season concluded, which by the way did so with him ranked eighth academically in his high school class. In a testimonial to his inner strength, Manley instead chose to keep working.

photo of Devareaux Manely

He is a shining example of not allowing initial disinterest to sway his convictions. Manley felt he was a D-1 1evel talent so he and club coach Phil Handy mapped out a post-senior summer plan that included exposure outside of the West.

But being seen was just part of the equation.

Manley had to produce on the court -- and he did.

Now he'll be joining a basketball program headed by Coach Rob Senderoff that went 25-12 overall, 12-4 in the Mid-American Conference last season and made a three game run in the NIT, including a 71-70 victory over host St. Mary's. It's also a squad that has won three straight league championships. Senderoff has been at Kent State for three years as the associate head coach and was named to the top spot when Geno Ford left after the season for Bradley. Manley is now a member of a squad coming off a season in which the Golden Flashes totaled 2,626 points -- an sum exceeded only by one other Kent State team for the highest single-season total in school history.

Why Kent State? Manley explained, "The coaches seemed down to earth and the players seemed nice. Plus, the campus was great and the town [Kent.Ohio] is a nice size and a college town. I liked the gym and the workout area and also met some of the school staff who seemed nice." Kent is 30 miles southeast of Cleveland on the Cuyahoga River.

"Dev was the biggest surprise for me on Team 94," Handy explained. "I was especially impressed with the type of kid he was on and off the floor. He will be an excellent D-1 basketball player."

Handy continued, "This is why I do what I do. It makes me smile and makes it worth it."

Manley was first noticed by the Kent State staff in a tournament in South Carolina -- "Dev was a monster in Myrtle Beach," according to Handy. Team 94 then moved on to events in West Virginia, then Las Vegas and finally Arizona, with coaches in shirts bearing the logo of the Golden Flashes always in attendance.

What caught the eyes of the coaching staff? "He shot the ball well, even posted up, showed athleticism and demonstrated he knew how to play in a team setting," Senderoff related, adding "he is versatile and could even eventually play some point for us."

Senderoff likes big guards and now has a bevy of them on his roster.

Manley is already looking forward to a new rivalry. He explained, "Kent State and Akron, which is 15 minutes away, are fierce rivals. You can't get a ticket if you come to the game because it sells out." The Golden Flashes drew 6,300 fans for a home game last season against the Zips.

Another positive element Manley noted is that Kent State opens with West Virginia in a game that will be televised by ESPN. Plus, Senderoff indicated he wants to bring his team out west as often as possible.

Manley's advice to others in recruiting overall and particularly those in his situation: "Stay strong. stay ready, stay humble and believe in yourself."

He wished to thank "my Mom first for all the motivation, Coach Phil because I wouldn't have this opportunity without him, Coach McGavock, Coach Burks and Coach McGrady [from Castlemont], Coach Senderoff, Samantha Odom [a counselor at Castlemont], my high school teachers, plus my friends and family for their encouraging words."

Manley's mother, Terri, offered this about her son and the process: "Knowing who he is, I didn't have any doubt that he would get a D-1 scholarship. I knew something would turn up. About recruiting, I told him 'he has my blessing if it feels right in his head and heart and the pieces of the puzzle fit.' My task was to help him see the bigger picture so that he could make the wisest and best decision. He has the foundation to make the right decision. I've been really successful, with God's guidance, to have successful kids who stayed on the right course."

Jeanine Manley is now a senior at Coppin State in Maryland and the leading scorer on the Eagles women's basketball team. The family is already planning get-togethers at his and her games next season.

Manley departs from the Bay Area on August 25.