Evan Manning to join KU as walk-on

Free State senior guard Evan Manning hooks a reverse layup around Shawnee Mission West junior forward Mitch Witter (40) and junior forward Nick Thayer during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011 at Free State.

Free State senior guard Evan Manning hooks a reverse layup around Shawnee Mission West junior forward Mitch Witter (40) and junior forward Nick Thayer during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011 at Free State.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Former Free State High guard Evan Manning — the son of former Kansas University All-American Danny Manning — will play basketball at his dad’s alma mater.

Evan Manning, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior combo guard who averaged just under 10 points a game this past season at New Hampton School in New Hampshire, on Thursday night accepted coach Bill Self’s invitation to join KU’s team as a walk-on.

“It is a dream come true. It is such a unique opportunity. It’ll be cool to wear Kansas across my chest. It’s unbelievable,” Manning told the Journal-World on Thursday night.

Manning, who was offered this non-scholarship spot several weeks ago, most recently had the opportunity to walk on at Tulsa University and play for his father, who worked on Self’s staff the past nine seasons.

“My dad is my No. 1 supporter,” Evan Manning said. “He’d love for me to play for him at Tulsa, but realizes how cool it is and what a great opportunity it is for me to play at Kansas. It’s always been a dream of mine to play for KU and coach Self and be in Lawrence — to play in Allen Fieldhouse. It’d be awesome if my dad was still here, but I’m the biggest Tulsa fan out there right now. He (Danny) will do big things there.”

Manning’s sister, Taylor, is a junior-to-be at KU. She was a walk-on on the volleyball team this past season.

As a part-time starter for 26-9 New Hampton, Evan Manning averaged about nine points and six assists a game. His playing time was reduced when a standout guard returned from injury.

“He’s an incredible kid, very mature, one of the best teammates we’ve had at New Hampton since I’ve been part of the program (nine years),” New Hampton coach Peter Hutchins said. “He understands basketball and how to lead and comes prepared to work every day.”

Manning received the “Coaches’ Award” at the team’s postseason awards ceremony.

“It’s going to be a challenge. It’s something I look forward to, to embrace my role as practice player,” Manning said. “I know the role I’m going into and what I need to do to help the team win basically. Tough times are ahead, but fun times. I’d say I need to work on my strength and ballhandling, everything really. I’ll do what it takes to improve in all areas.”

Norm to return?: Florida assistant coach Norm Roberts, who worked as an assistant for Bill Self during the 2003-04 season before becoming St. John’s head coach, may be returning next season as a replacement for Danny Manning. A source close to ESPN.com said Roberts is mulling an offer to join the KU staff. Sources told the Journal-World Roberts has been at the top of Self’s wish list since the vacancy opened. Roberts, whose son Niko is a sophomore on the KU team, assisted Self at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and KU. Self has a policy of not commenting about job openings.

Self on where Thomas Robinson figures to fall in this year’s NBA Draft: “He’s going to go, I would hope, low end, go in the top five, six,” Self said.

As to when the 6-10 junior will announce ... “We haven’t had that talk yet, but to be honest with you, that’s something for him to tell people and make an announcement about it,” Self said. “I’m not going to in any way, shape or form encourage him to stay. I’m not going to let fans know that there is a possibility he might. If he does, he does, but that would be a shock to me. But the thing is, he’s earned the right to move on. This kid finished second for national player of the year, consensus All-American, he’s going to get his jersey hung, won the league, took his team to the finals. And in the finals, everybody talks about Anthony Davis, who was great. Thomas had 18 and 17. Missed two dunks, had 18 and 17. He’s a stud, and it’s time. So many of us have said or believed you’ve got to strike while the iron’s hot. Iron’s hot for him.

“We’ll see what happens, but it needs to be his decision and his way of expressing it to a group of people that would I’m sure be very, very happy for him either way.”

KU’s basketball banquet, which conceivably could be that forum, is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Holidome. It is sold out.