On The Road: 2008's Jarrett Mann

MIDDLETOWN, Del. – The "First State" will crank out a Division I talent every now and then. Two years ago, it was Eric Boateng heading to Duke and Jawan Carter is St. Joe's-bound this year. Looking down the road, the Cavaliers Jarrett Mann appears to be next.

He's not a native but the First State is sure to claim Jarrett Mann (Class of 2008) as one of its own in the coming years. The 6-foot-4 sophomore wing out of Middletown (Del.) High hails from New Jersey but for the last 3 years he's called the land just below the Summit Bridge home.

"It's slower here, it's quiet," Mann said. "Real quiet."

"It used to be farmland and now … basically our whole staring lineup is not from Delaware."

Middletown used to be a stop along the way from Newark to the capitol of Dover. Not anymore, the area is growing, the school's sports teams are excelling and now there's a Division I basketball player in town to command some attention.

The Cavaliers are 15-5 and ranked No. 5 in the state behind the play of its star sophomore who averages 19.5 points a game. College recruiters are slowly getting acquainted with the area.

Coach Chuck Robinson said Georgetown, Rutgers, St. Joseph's and Boston College have been down to see Mann. The wing has seen the campuses at Maryland, Villanova, Georgetown, Delaware, Boston College, Louisville and West Virginia. Wake Forest, Louisville and Notre Dame have him on their mailing lists.

"Whoever can get their claws in him early is definitely going to have an advantage because he's going to be a phenomenal player," Robinson said. Mann carries a 3.6 GPA.

The big time student and blossoming basketball player is a student of the game. Our first interaction with him was at the Eddie Griffin Challenge where we were introduced to him at the scorer's table. He wasn't playing in the event but that didn't stop him from finding a niche in the game held for the best players in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Mann wanted to see what the top prospects looked like so he worked as a scorekeeper.

"To keep up with the competition you have to go see other players. I go watch games and see players.

"I wanted to and wanted to see Ashton Gibbs and Austin Johnson. They invited me to come out. It would have been nice if I could have participated. I just came to watch."

And learn. Mann says there are parts of his game he and will improve on.

"I just realize that somewhere else someone is out there working harder than me or doing something that I should be doing. My main thing is to work hard. A kid can say he works hard because he's good but I can really say I do work hard.

"I definitely need to improve my ball handling. I plan on going to college and there I'll have to play the point or the shooting guard. I want to be universal. My main goal is to develop my ball handling skills. My 3-point shot has to be a little more consistent."

Robinson sees the potential in his sophomore and feels the responsibility to help him develop his entire package. "For Jarrett to play at Division I, we know he's got to get stronger and we know he's got to work on his lateral quickness and his shot. He's got a good shot now but it could be great with effort and a little time in the gym working on his mechanics and getting his confidence."

Mann's mother played at Piscataway High in Jersey where she helped her team win a state title. She came up 10 points short of 1,000 for her career. His father was a baseball player and athletics run in the family.

This summer, Mann will run with Jim Salmon's New Jersey Playaz, one of the strongest traveling teams on the circuit. Before then, watch for Mann's name to pop up on the all-state list in Delaware.

"He's definitely a first team or second teamer," Robinson said. "He's definitely one of the Top 10 players in the state, north or south."

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