CHAPEL HILL — The prospect rankings and mock draft forecasts don’t project North Carolina’s Brady Manek to be selected Thursday night during the course of the NBA Draft.
But whether Manek is taken in the draft, Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis has his own vision for the sharpshooting forward’s professional future. He can see Manek finding an NBA roster spot and sticking in the league.
“It’s very hard for me to imagine there’s not a place for Brady in the NBA, with his size, his ability to shoot,” Davis said last week at the Smith Center. “He’s more than ‘he can shoot.’ He’s elite. There’s guys that’s can make shots, there’s guys that can make open shots and there’s guys that can also make contested shots, and Brady can do it all.
“Especially where the game is, and then you combine that with the character, the way that he carries himself, the type of person he is, the family that he comes from. He will be playing in the NBA next year.”
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There has been NBA interest connected to the 6-foot-9 Manek. He has worked out for the Atlanta Hawks, Indian PacersMinnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizardsper HoopsHype. Those teams own a combined nine picks in the second round, should Manek sneak into the back end of the draft.
There are 58 overall draft choices this year rather than the traditional 60, with the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat having forfeited second-round selections due to violations of league rules on the timing of free agency decisions.
Manek also participated in the NBA G League Elite Camp last month in Chicago. He was a four-year starter at Oklahoma, before becoming a one-of-a-kind find last season in Chapel Hill, a graduate transfer success story that made him an essential piece of UNC’s run to the Final Four and NCAA championship game.
After his standout playing career in college at North Carolina, Davis was a first-round pick of the New York Knicks in the 1992 NBA Draft. He played 12 seasons in the NBA with six teams, including the Wizards.
So when Manek worked out for the Wizards on June 10, Davis and Tar Heels director of recruiting Pat Sullivan took a flight there to visit with Manek.
“I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him how proud I am of him,” Davis said. “It was great flying up there and just hanging out before the workout. And then we ended up talking for almost an hour after the workout.”
Manek topped UNC in successful 3-pointers (98), and ranked second on the team in rebounding (6.1 per game) and third in scoring (15.1 points per game). North Carolina 25-6 in games when he went scored in double figures, and 20-5 when he connected on multiple 3s.
He tied Caleb Love for the team lead in scoring during the NCAA Tournament with 18.8 points per game — underlined by 28 points against Marquette26 against Baylor and 19 against Saint Peter’s — while shooting 54.3% from the field and 47.8% from 3-point range. Only Gonzaga star Drew Timme averaged more points through his team’s first two NCAA games than Manek.
Adam Smith is a sports reporter for the Burlington Times-News and USA TODAY Network. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or @adam_smithTN on Twitter.
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