Sterling Manley doesn't seek the media spotlight. Interviews throughout his recruitment were rare, and the sum of his comments about his commitment to North Carolina earlier this month were contained to a single tweet. It's no wonder that he's operated under the national radar as a 6-10 basketball prospect.
In his first interview since committing to Roy Williams, Manley talked to Inside Carolina about his decision and reaction to becoming a Tar Heel.
What made you feel like UNC was the right place for you?
Sterling Manley: Well, UNC has always been my dream school. In a way, I kind of knew before I went there that it was the place I wanted to be. But the main thing I was focusing on was to see if I would fit in with the players and what not. And to see if Coach Williams and his staff really wanted me as a player to contribute to North Carolina. Those two factors were the main things that made it feel like the place for me.
What has UNC told you about how you will be used within its system?
In their system, the "4" and the "5" are interchangeable, so I definitely will be playing both of those. They are bringing me in as a more versatile big man for them that can score inside and out and also be a long, defensive presence. They like how I have good touch around the basket and mid-range, but can also get up above the rim if need be.
How was UNC able to come into your recruitment so late and win? Was it hard turning schools like Xavier and West Virginia that were on you longer than most?
Yeah, it was definitely hard turning down West Virginia and Xavier, no doubt. Both of those schools have really great programs and more than anything they built a really good relationship me. But as I said before, North Carolina was my dream school and when Coach Williams and his staff came in to recruit me, I could only imagine how it could be when it happened - and it was better than what I could've expected.
Another UNC target, Jarred Vanderbilt, officially visited the same weekend as you. Did you talk and bond with him at all?
Yeah, we got to talk about a few things and I do think UNC has a shot at him. But I also know he is definitely going to go through the process and see what is out there for him, which is the right thing to do.
What was the one thing that Roy Williams said to you during the recruiting process that sticks out the most?
He said to me that he will never put his goals and aspirations above mine. (He said) that mine will and should always come first. The only thing that will be close to my goals that is on his mind is winning, but that's it.
Have you given any thought to being the first Columbus, Ohio native in more than 40 years to be offered and commit to North Carolina?
It makes me feel very humble, if anything. Just to know that I will be able to play at one of the best programs ever is still amazing to me. It's like all the hard work that I put in and continue to put in, all the trials and tribulations that I've been put through and pushed through is finally paying off. I know there are so many kids out there that would kill to have the opportunity that I am in right now.