COLUMBUS, Ohio (11/25/16) --- North Carolina signee Sterling Manley returned to the floor for his first official high school action in more than nine months at the All-Ohio High School Preview in his native Columbus on Friday.
In a preseason game that featured two eight-minute quarters, Manley finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in a Pickerington Central loss to Dayton, Ohio powerhouse Trotwood-Madison. Manley made his presence felt around the basket, as the 6-foot-11 big man altered a high percentage of shots, while impacting the offensive glass for most of the night.
"I felt pretty strong, pretty good, I was working out there trying to do my best," Manley told Inside Carolina. "Just trying to get a feel for the game, get touches, and just get my wind back, that's always the main focus."
And Manley did just that. Playing for 15 of the possible 16 minutes, he was on the court for long stretches, getting up and down the floor in a fast-paced game featuring several Division I level talents. In his first action against high-level competition other than his own teammates, Manley did not look rusty, showing improvement in several areas.
"Touch around the basket, getting my post moves and being able to hold them, and definitely finishing around the rim," Manley said of his improvements.
Just two days after North Carolina took down Wisconsin in the Maui Invitational championship, Manley was impressed with his future team and how its big men were utilized in the win.
"I think I'm going to fit in well with the way they used their big men, I mean it's a tradition," Manley said. "It just proves how versatile they are, how Wisconsin slows it down and they played the slow ball game, ran their sets and still got their big men the ball and exploited them."
Next up is another big preseason test Saturday night against First Love Christian Academy out of Pennsylvania. Manley will match up against Siena signee Prince Oduro and fellow senior center Mohammed Selim.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (11/26/16) --- In a Saturday preseason showdown against a stout First Love Christian Academy squad, North Carolina signee Sterling Manley took the next step.
Leading Pickerington Central to a 81-72 win, Manley recorded 25 points, six rebounds, three assists and three blocks. He got the better of 6-foot-8 Siena signee Prince Oduro, finishing nearly all of his attempts at the rim. Manley was also perfect from the charity stripe, hitting all 11 free throw attempts.
The highlight play of the night for Manley came in the third quarter when the UNC signee backed down Oduro, then rose up for a huge turnaround slam in which he was fouled. Converting at the line, Manley's three-point play gave Pickerington Central a lead it never relinquished.
Showing a confidence and toughness to his game that he didn't have prior to the season-ending leg fracture back in February, Manley appears to be turning the corner as a 6-foot-11 center prospect. That confidence has also translated into leadership. One of a few seniors on a talented Pickerington Central team, Manley has embraced his role as the elder statesman for the Tigers.
"Mainly just being a leader, being a floor general, telling people where they need to go," Manley said of his impact. "Got to dominate the game, I'll have to do more than I normally have, but it is alright, it is a learning process with this team and I will have to lead them as a group."