In most cases with these player evaluations, you read that the article's subject had identified himself early and then improved over time. Well, in the case of Trevor Manuel, he actually didn't perform to expectation during the 2014 travel season yet remains a player we believe possesses outstanding skills and potential.
Manuel certainly did place himself onto the map early. The power forward impressed us during the spring of his freshman season, showcasing the skills and finesse that continue to define his game.
By the 2013 spring, he'd drawn high-major offers from N.C. State, Michigan State, Providence and Oregon. He hit the road for a time with The Family and performed well playing up with the 17-unders on the EYBL circuit.
The Michigan native became a solid contributor to loaded Oak Hill Academy during the 2013-14 season. Though not a star by any means, his ability to face the basket continued to impress college coaches and scouts, though clearly questions existed whether he'd be able to physically hold his own inside.
This past spring and summer brought mixed reviews. He toured once again with The Family and also attended the NBPA Top 100 Camp, but he didn't perform as well we expected there. Still, he showed off what he's capable of doing and certainly didn't suffer a drop off in his recruitment.
He toured Eugene officially this month and committed to Dana Altman's program over UNLV, USC, Wake Forest and Florida State, among others. Obviously, he compiled a geographically diverse set of options and didn't have his heart set on staying within his home region, as so many players do.
Manuel boasts outstanding hands. Too many big guys play hard, are strong and athletic, and generally want to be effective, but time and again we see them held back by subpar hands. Well, in Manuel's case, that never will be a problem.
|Manuel's hands are his primary weapons|
The slender forward catches the ball cleanly and can go quickly from the catch into his facing jump shot. He's impressively economical, knocking down medium-range jumpers from 12-17 feet. He projects as an outstanding high post scorer, because he already wields a jump shot that many other bigs need years to acquire.
Meanwhile, he's also a fine handler and passer who likely won't be dribbling much in college but certainly can be a factor making passes from the elbow.
I also like that Manuel plays within himself. While he doesn't do anything particularly flashy, he's effective in his preferred spots and converted on a strong 54 percent from the field this year with The Family in EYBL play.
On defense, he uses long arms to block shots and is more potent in that regard than you might expect, given the lack of great athleticism. He also competes with an intelligent, alert style and picks up some steals as a result as well.
Manuel must become much stronger and more aggressive. He sometimes fades into the background of the action, and at 6-9 he simply must improve as a rebounder. He averaged only six boards per game for The Family, a low number for him given his length and excellent hands. The good news is that he has a frame that should carry muscle easily; he simply needs to add bulk and adopt a more rugged playing style.
He also didn't score as well as expected. He flashed a great deal of offensive promise in 2013, scoring nine points per game in four contests with The Family, but that number actually dipped slightly this year in 13 games. He's easily capable of being a double-digit scorer, and once again the ticket will be to improve inside in order to supplement his skills facing the bucket.
Otherwise, he's a mobile athlete but not that explosive as a finisher. That's less of a liability given his length, just something to remember for the longer term.
Overall, Manuel projects well in structure because he plays a controlled, skillful style and also understands how to blend — his time at Oak Hill definitely helped, and this season he's back in Michigan — with other high-major performers. Thus, as a freshman he could surprise fans who see his lack of a top 100 ranking and assume he'll be a reserve.
Of course, we can't really discuss Oregon hoops at the moment without at least referencing the various personnel and publicity issues that have damaged the program lately. In that regard, Manuel may have to play a big role early, ready or not.
The Ducks employ a fast-paced style and, though Manuel himself isn't a blazing athlete, I like the fit. He'll need to improve as a rebounder to start the break with an outlet pass, but even now he projects to be a weapon as a trailing high post shooter. That's a college talent already in his toolkit.
So while he must tweak his body and mindset for the sport's higher levels, Manuel's skills and self-awareness make him a promising addition to Oregon with an opportunity to make a career out of the game following college.