An in-depth look at Jackie Manuel


Jackie Manuel

11:45 p.m. Update - We have been informed that Manuel confirmed that he has indeed committed to UNC, when asked at the Las Vegas Big Time tournament today.

Also, in response to questions regarding what position Manuel will play in college, his high school coach, Murray Smith, told the Charlotte Observer that Manuel is a shooting guard.

6:00 p.m. Update - After reading the scoop by the Insiders Report, the All Star Report called Manuel's father and got some additional info.

The elder Manuel said Matt Doherty called Jackie following the press conference to announce he was the new coach at UNC. During the phone conversation, Doherty offered a scholarship. "I've never seen him so excited, knowing that he had the opportunity to play at Carolina under Coach Doherty," Manuel's father told ASR. "It's always been a dream of his since he was a kid ... Coach Doherty leaving Notre Dame has been a blessing in disguise for us."

So, what about the question that has been on the minds of Tar Heel fans all day: Will Doherty still recruit James White? The answer is yes, according to Mr. Manuel.

"They told us that they plan to play Jackie at the two and three spots, and that they were still trying to bring in that James White kid from DC." (link)

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(12:15 a.m.) - Ok, let's start from the beginning. On Friday evening, the Insiders Report said FL wing Jackie Manuel has verbally committed to North Carolina. IR supported their report with the following quotes from Manuel's father and AAU coach.

Manuel's father: "That's what he told me before he left for Las Vegas. He told me he committed to North Carolina."

AAU coach John Adkins: "Jackie is the complete player. He gets to the basket. Shoots the three. And defends well. This is a great get for North Carolina." (IR story)

This report comes as a major surprise, as Manuel was supposedly a lock for Florida. Numerous publications said a commitment was inevitable, and ESPN's Andy Katz even considered it a done deal, and so the recruiting world assumed Manuel was a Gator. "It was reported that Manuel committed to the Gators," Manuel's father told IR. "As far as I know, it's North Carolina."

So, you ask, who is Jackie Manuel and why has he seemingly out of the blue committed to the Tar Heels?

Jackie Manuel attends Cardinal Newman H.S. in West Palm Beach, FL. He's a wing forward, listed as 6-7, 180 pounds, but we're told he's closer to 6-5, 174 pounds. This past season at Newman, Manuel averaged 18.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg and 5.0 apg, and won a fair share of awards in leading the school to the 3A title. His junior season honors: first-team all-state, all-area, 3A small school player of the year, USA Today honorable mention, player of the year in Palm Beach County and first-team all-conference. In addition, he's a solid student with a 3.0 GPA.

Entering the summer, Manuel was considered a borderline Top 100 player by most rankings. However, about a month ago, a new Manuel emerged at an Individual camp at the University of Florida. "He dominated at Billy Donovan's camp," FOXSports.com's Jacey Zembal told UNCbasketball.com Friday evening, "and the Gators wanted him badly."

"That started his ascent," Dave Telep of Rivals100Hoops.com told UNCbasketball.com Friday night. "Since then, he's been playing with a renewed sense of confidence." Manuel continued his vastly improved play at the Adidas ABCD Camp last week, where his performance left onlookers raving. "Based on what I saw at ABCD," Telep said, "there might not be a better wing forward in the class." The All Star Report ranked Manuel as the second best WF at ABCD, while HoopScoop listed him as the #6 player overall at the camp.

"The kid is a winner," Zembal said. "He is a great defender and passer, very effective in the open court, and is more of a slasher than a shooter. He's real athletic, but on the skinny side."

Telep: "Manuel is an explosive and dynamic athlete. The one question I had was 'can he shoot the ball?' Well, he shot the ball very well at ABCD."

Manuel was now a highly coveted recruit. Florida, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Duke all were in hot pursuit, though Duke hadn't offered a scholarship. Zembal says Duke and Notre Dame were Manuel's favorites, and Doherty's move to Chapel Hill converted Manuel's interest from the Irish to the Tar Heels.

New UNC coach Matt Doherty reportedly traveled on Thursday night to see Manuel play in Florida, and about 24 hours later, IR reported Manuel had committed to the Tar Heels. Manuel has headed off to Las Vegas to participate in the Adidas Big Time tournament with his AAU team the Tallahassee Wildcats, so that is why he was unavailable for comment.

So, what does this mean for North Carolina's recruitment of the Class of 2001? Will Manuel take one of the two slots that had seemingly been waiting for James White and Julius Hodge?

Telep, who has been on the road scouting is not yet convinced that Manuel to UNC is a done deal. However, when asked about this commitment possibly knocking a previous target off UNC's list, he stressed the importance of a guaranteed commitment from a top-notch player. "If the report is true, and you have the opportunity to take Jackie Manuel," Telep said, "you take Jackie Manuel."

Zembal offered his interpretation of latest Tar Heel recruiting developments: "After recruiting Manuel for Notre Dame, and knowing that James White is a likely North Carolina commitment, Coach Doherty probably figures he'd love to see an up-tempo lineup that includes White, Manuel and Adam Boone.

"Throw in the explosive Brian Morrison and the Tar Heels will be as athletic as when they had Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison, and Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse. And the need for more wing players [like Julius Hodge, Greg Tinch or others] is lessened."

The ultimate source in the matter, Jackie Manuel himself, has not spoken to the media, so he may hold the key to all the details. Needless to say, every reporter in Las Vegas will want to speak with him now, and Manuel's story will be heard shortly.

"If this is true," Telep said, "no one will be more surprised than the Florida Gators."


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