When Charles Manning Jr. led the Bridgehampton Killer Bees to the New York State Class D title in 2015, he flashed the kind of big-time potential seldom seen in this neck of the woods.
Now he has a national stage to showcase his game.
Manning, whose father Maurice led the Killer Bees to three state titles, has signed a letter of intent to play for Louisiana State University.
LSU is an elite Division I school, with one national championship, four Final Four appearances, and 11 SEC championships on its resume.
Scores of former LSU players have made it to the NBA, including Hall of Famers Pete Maravich, Bob Petit, and Shaquille O’Neal.
George Sanders, the athletic director of Florida Southwest State College, where Manning, a sophomore, is leading its undefeated team in scoring, confirmed that Manning had signed with LSU. “He had a great year last year and a good summer camp. A lot of people came to look at him,” he said.
Manning has grown to six foot, six inches and retains his quickness and mobility. He projects as a starting guard for the Tigers. “He’s a dynamic player,” Sanders said.
Manning is shooting 31.6 percent from behind the arc, and averaging 17.2 points per game on 49 percent shooting. He has 33 assists, 14 steals, eight blocks, and is averaging six rebounds per game. He recently scored 26 points against Miami Dade and shot 10 for 15 from the field.
Charles Wade, the Tigers’ head coach, swooped in during the official early signing period to grab Manning. “Charles Manning has a great deal of versatility in his game, and when I watched him play, he proved to be the hardest playing guy on the basketball court,” Wade said on November 15. “He will bring an edge and attitude to our team. We look forward to him joining us for the 2019-20 season.”
LSU is 6-2 so far this season. Last year the team finished with a disappointing 18-15 mark but earned a National
invitational Tournament berth.
Manning only played a single season for the Killer Bees, his junior year, yet his place in the storied legacy of the team is secure. He was the state tournament’s Most Valuable Player and the New York State Class D Player of the year.
The next season, in a controversial decision, he transferred to Lutheran, a private school and a Long Island basketball powerhouse. Despite serving a five-game suspension, he helped the team win a berth on the State Federation tournament and earned second-team All Long Island honors.
Florida Southwestern, previously known as Edison College, is a junior college and plays in the Florida Suncoast Conference in the NJCAA Division. Players typically choose a junior college to improve their grades or gain a year of physical maturity.
Manning’s father was also the New York State Class D Player of the Year and led Suffolk Community College through an undefeated season and to the NJCAA national title.