Gonzaga has become a recruiting powerhouse in Canada over the past few years. The 2009 recruiting class consists of two players who reside in Canada; Mangisto Arop and Bol Kong. Arop is a four-star wing as ranked by Rivals.com and is a player that we are very excited about seeing in a Gonzaga uniform. He is a member of the National Elite Development Academy in Canada which is managed by Andrew Cook. We were able to catch up with Mr. Cook and ask him a few questions about Manny and his performance this season...
The Slipper Still Fits: First off, it's hard to find any type of stat or box score online for the NEDA. Can you just fill us in on how the team is doing and in particular how Mangisto has been playing?
Andrew Cook: The team has been playing very well over the course of this season and Mangisto has been the team's top performer, particularly in the games vs. tougher opponents. NEDA has played a number of games against top Canadian universities, CEGEPS and some US Prep Schools. Because the focus of the program is long term athlete development, box scores and results are not a focal point of our publicity around the program.
continue reading more of the interview after the jump...
TSSF: Where are Manny's strengths on the basketball court? At the same time, what are a few things that he needs to work on before arriving at Gonzaga?
AC: Manny is an excellent scorer and has developed into a very good outside shooter. He also rebounds the ball very well for a guard. Manny needs to work on maintaining focus and a killer instinct at all times, against all opponents.
TSSF: I'm not sure how much information you have on this subject but can you enlighten me on the amount of recruiting attention that Manny received prior to and even after committing to Gonzaga?
AC: I know that Manny had interest from several schools, but I don't have the full list. I imagine that committing early to Gonzaga helped ease the recruiting volume.
TSSF: People always try and compare up and coming players with current players. What mainstream basketball player would you compare Manny to?
AC: Comparisons are never fair to any player, but if I had to make one I would say his game reminds me of Josh Howard of Dallas. He finds different ways to score - three point shot, mid range game and post game.
TSSF: As the Manager of the Men's Elite Performance, you've seen a number of good ball players, is Manny one of the better players you have seen? Where does he stack up in your mind?
AC: Manny is very talented and certainly one of the top players to come through the CDN system over the past 10 years.
TSSF: We like to get an idea of how kids are off the court. Can you describe Manny as a person and what the Gonzaga community can expect from him away from the hardwood?
AC: Manny is a wonderful young man with a full personality. He is a warm, polite and friendly person, well liked by all involved with the NEDA program.
TSSF: Gonzaga has really hit Canada hard as far as recruiting goes. With Rob Sacre on the roster, and now Mangisto and hopefully Bol Kong, Gonzaga has established a major pipeline. What is the popular perception of Gonzaga in Canada and why is it so popular?
AC: Gonzaga has clearly established itself as a high major program over the past 10 years and has a reputation for being a program that develops future international and NBA players. This combined with the proximity to Canada makes it an enticing destination for top CDN recruits.
TSSF: Gonzaga is going after another NEDA player in Kelly Olynyk. Can you describe Kelly as a player and have you seen a lot of recruiting interest with him?
AC: Kelly is a very skilled 6'11 forward who passes the ball very well. He is an extremely intelligent player with a multi-skilled package offensively, needing now to focus on his development on the defensive side of the ball. Kelly has had recruiting interest from many schools across the NCAA and CIS.