It is unheard of for a basketball player from the East End to play in a top echelon Division I program, but Charles Manning Jr is doing that and then some.
Manning, a junior transfer who played in Bridgehampton, a Class D Suffolk County school, is the sixth man for the powerful Louisiana State University Tigers team — yes, the same LSU that won the national championship in football Monday, January 13.
Manning, a 6’-5’’ leaper who can play every position is the first player off the bench, and is usually on the floor from then on. The Tigers are on a roll with four straight wins, and their 3-0 Southeastern Conference mark is good enough for a share of the lead in the standings with Auburn University and the University of Kentucky.
The Tigers (11-4 overall) trailed 53-44 with five minutes remaining in a game against Mississippi State University January 12 when Manning Jr. and company got hot. LSU scored seven straight points and took a 57-55 lead on a three-pointer by Manning with one minute left in the game. Manning, who ended the contest with 15 points, sent an inbounds pass to Skylar Mays after Mississippi State grabbed a 59-58 lead on a basket by Reggie Perry with 4.6 seconds left, who used a spin move to get rid of his defender and nailed a buzzer-beating jumper in the 60-59 win to keep the streak alive.
For the season, Manning, whose father Charles “Mo” Manning was a legend at Bridgehampton, is shooting the lights out at LSU — shooting a blistering 52 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from three-point range, 71 percent from the free-throw line, and is averaging 8.5 points per game.