Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Near the end: Manning looks forward to Senior Day

Kansas players Evan Manning, second from right, and Tyler Self celebrate a bucket by Landen Lucas during the second half, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Evan Manning, second from right, and Tyler Self celebrate a bucket by Landen Lucas during the second half, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Second-year Wake Forest basketball coach Danny Manning knew, no matter what, he’d be in Lawrence on March 5, 2016 for the Senior Day/Allen Fieldhouse swan-song of his son, Evan.

“My dad actually had one schedule request for Wake Forest (when taking job). That was for him to be able to come back here for this game,” Evan Manning, KU’s 6-foot-3 senior guard from Free State High and New Hampton (N.H.) Prep School, said proudly.

He was referring to Saturday’s 3 p.m., Senior Day contest versus Iowa State.

“He’s gotten to make it to a couple other games this year. Coach (Bill) Self put me in for a couple of ’em because he knew he was here. That was cool for him (Self) to do. I’m really excited to have my family in town for the game. I’m looking forward to it,” Evan added of Danny, mom Julie plus sister Taylor, who lives in Portland, Ore.

Evan, who averaged 7.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 2.4 assists per game his senior year at FSHS, then went on to net just under 10 points and six assists per contests in 2011-12 at New Hampton, Prep, turned down a chance to play for his dad, who was at Tulsa at the time, and declined overtures from several small colleges in April of 2012 to fulfill a dream to play for KU.

Evan lived in Lawrence from 2004 to ’12, the years his dad was on staff at KU.

“That would have been cool,” Manning said of perhaps earning lots of playing time at a small college, “but this has always been my dream. I don’t regret this at all and don’t think I ever will. This place has been too good to me to ever think about ‘what ifs.’ I love it here. I wouldn’t trade what I have, wouldn’t trade my teammates for the world and everything I learned.”

Manning also has three Big 12 title rings in his possession with a fourth soon to be fitted in recognition of KU’s 12th league title in a row.

Winning at a tradition-rich school like KU has been utterly rewarding, Evan indicated.

“When we were here as freshmen, me, Perry (Ellis), Lando (Landen Lucas), Ty (Tyler Self) and Mari (Jamari Traylor) ... we were all around Travis and they did that (2012) Late Night skit where he (Releford) had all his rings out. That was something. We looked at him and were like, ‘Hey when we leave here, we want to be like that. We want to have those opportunities to put ourselves in position to win the championship each year.’ We’ve been lucky enough to do that. That’s been our goal.”

Self, who has directed KU to the 12 titles, applauds the contribution of Manning, who has scored 26 points and dished five assists in games and worked diligently on the scout team at practice thus far during his walk-on career.

“He gets it. He is smart. He is a great scout team guy,” Bill Self said. “He had the opportunity to go to other places but wanted to be here and loves KU.

“Evan will be successful in whatever he chooses to do. He got his degree in athletic administration so there’s several different avenues. He’ll have opportunities and certainly make the most of them.”

Manning this semester (as well as Perry Ellis and Tyler Self) has been working an internship around KU athletics. He started with the marketing department, moved on to facilities and will finish with the Williams Fund. Once he hits 600 hours, he’ll be eligible to receive his diploma and walk the hill in May.

“We get there at 8 a.m. and work until we have to start doing stuff for practice,” said Manning, who after graduation, will begin a summer internship for Pro Camps based in Cincinnati. “For marketing I help fold the T-shirts they throw out during the games, set up the Fun Zone for women’s games. A lot of brainstorming for football and helping get ideas going, that type of thing.

“It’s a lot different than class. It’s a lot more fun. They give us stuff to work on, kind of more freedom than a class. It’s cool.”

What will be really cool, he admits, is starting for KU in his final home game. Self has a tradition of starting his seniors, meaning Manning, Ellis, Jamari Traylor and Hunter Mickelson will start versus the Cyclones.

“Playing with my guys, I’m going to be really excited, happy to be out there,” Manning said. “I’ll play hard for the time that I can get. Hopefully I’ll contribute a little bit.”

Then after the game, he’ll give a short speech to the fans.

“I think I have the highest probability of crying out of everyone,” Manning said with a smile. “The last few games we’re running out of the tunnel, the whole time I’m thinking, ‘Man I’m going to miss this.’ Seeing all these people here, the love of KU basketball ... to be part of it is special. I’m going to miss it.”

Manning is through playing after this year. He won’t be heading to Europe to play for pay.

“This is the end of that,” he said. “I’m going to hang ’em up here, so to speak.”

Chances are he’ll work in the sports field, maybe the world of basketball.

“I like the competitive nature of sports, being able to be part of something where you can help guys get a victory in some manner. I think that’s a great feeling,” Manning said. “I’ve got some time to maybe get a GA (grad assistant) job in the next year or two. I think right now I might want to step away from it a little bit. Basketball is definitely a passion. I know I’ll get back to it. I just might need a little break from it after this.”


Steve Macy 5 years, 9 months ago

Some commentators on this site will get their wish, Perry at the 3 spot.
I love the traditions, including starting the seniors, sometimes praying for the first timeout to sub starters back in. Holding this group together, probably by Frank, won't be that hard.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 9 months ago

It's going to be a sad sad day to see Perry Ellis and Jamari Taylor play for KU the last time in AFH. Ellis is playing at an All-American level and hope he can break into the top 10 all time scorers.

Kyle Brooks 5 years, 9 months ago

There just isn't a better place in the world. The Phog will be juiced and I just have a great feeling about this Senior Day! Perry Ellis- Homegrown stud who played 4 years for KU and just did everything the right way. You can't ask for anything more than that. Traylor- He will graduate.... GRADUATE! What a special accomplishment for where that young man came from. Hunter - Always hard on a young man to transfer but he has been a nice compliment to this team and hopefully will be able to contribute down the stretch. And of course Evan Manning - Turned down opportunities to play at smaller schools to walk-on and be apart of this amazing program.

Might need to cut some onions up during the post game speeches. Lets finish strong, ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 9 months ago

I'd love to see Perry Ellis back at Kansas one day in a coaching staff role. Obviously he's gonna have a chance to be a good pro first though. He could have a long career in the right role. But if he doesn't land in the right spot I'm sure that he'd be more than welcome to come back home at any time. I could see him catching on with a team like the Warriors, Spurs, or Hawks. A team that runs a pace and space offense and has time to develop a young player. I see his NBA ceiling as a Paul Milsap type player. Mid 2nd round pick who has found a niche and forged a long career, made a lot of money, and become a solid starting level stretch 4 in the league.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 9 months ago

Frank Mason, Evan Manning, Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor, and Hunter Mickelson is not a bad starting 5.

Hopefully it's another rowdy and fun Sr. Night and Evan, Traylor and Mickelson can play a lot of minutes.

Next year's group of Seniors could resemble the '08 squad if Selden sticks around. Frank, Wayne, Landon, Brannen, and Tyler.

But Wayne could have a breakout postseason and elevate his draft stock. That wouldn't be a bad thing either. I'd be happy for him if he has a chance to leave this year and go potentially mid-1st round.

Right now they've got him early to mid second round. Cheick Diallo at late 1st round to early 2nd. Cheick's gonna have a hard time breaking through this year, right now it looks like he should come back.

W Keith Swinehart II 5 years, 9 months ago

All the best to Evan and the starting Senior four. That you chose KU is great. That you stayed four years and got your education is even greater. You will, no doubt, do superbly in your future endeavors. Best of luck to you.

Danny Hernandez 5 years, 9 months ago

Congratulations Evan, on your 4 years playing for Kansas, your contributions to the team's success plus on getting your degree. No one can take that away from you, ever!!!

Eliott Reeder 5 years, 9 months ago

We should probably start Tyler at PG since he's likely going lottery at the end of the season.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 9 months ago

Hope we smash the Cry-Clowns the same way we smashed the Short-horns. And I hope Evan Manning has a Danny Manning-like game that afternoon.

Rodney Pain 5 years, 9 months ago

A start in a single game seems such an insufficient reward for a kid that puts in so much work and gets so little glory, but such is the life of the walk-on. Hope we blow out ISU so he can get max minutes and put some points on the board in his finale. I assume the starters are Frank, Manning, Ellis, Mari, Mickleson.

Michael Leiker 5 years, 9 months ago

Man, don't make him out to be a martyr. There were likely a bunch of other much more deserving guys who didn't get the shot at that spot because Danny Manning's kid happened to graduate high school the same year they did. He's represented the program and the university well and should be thanked for it, but he also happens to be a pretty lucky dude.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 9 months ago

Who would've Evan stolen a spot from? He was a preferred walk on and if he had chosen to play eslewhere, that spot doesn't get filled.

Michael Leiker 5 years, 8 months ago

Find a guy who's deserving to be a preferred walk on. Who would have been better? Pretty much 1/2 of the high school players in the state.

Mike Greer 5 years, 8 months ago

Don't you think ". . . ½ of the high school players in the state." goes beyond a bit of an exaggeration to make a point? Most guys that could play as good as Evan would have gone to a lesser school to get the playing time. Had he followed his coach Dad to Tulsa, he still wouldn't have gotten much more playing time than he did at KU. I work with a guy that was a walk-on for a different Big XII school, and what I can tell you is that these guys know full well going in that they won't get playing time. They're there for the education and enjoy playing ball with the big dogs. These guys are the scout team and the extras the team needs when they do the 5 on 10 drills to get ready for a team that presses like WVU. In other words, those good guys that could be a walk-on at KU, go somewhere where they would get that playing time. So I guess what your saying is that the coaches kids took spots that other kids who really are at KU for an education might have qualified for. And maybe your right, maybe there are a couple of better scout team players out there, but they wouldn't get any more or less playing time, so what difference does it really make?

Jay Scott 5 years, 8 months ago

Better in what way? Would they have an extra dozen career garbage time points in four years? Yay!

Janet Olin 5 years, 9 months ago

Congratulations, Evan for all you have contributed to the Jayhawks during your college career. Best of luck to you in all your endeavors. You are a terrific ambassador for the University of Kansas.

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