Later today, the future of Gonzaga basketball will descend upon Spokane to attend the Gonzaga elite camp, and then begin summer classes and workouts. While we expect Sam Dower, GJ Vilarino, David Stockton to be moving in later today, Gonzaga fans must wait a little longer for Kelly Olynyk, Mangisto Arop, and Elias Harris, as all 3 will be participating in FIBA tournaments this summer.
With the excitement over this class certainly justified, we thought that it would be great to check in with the man who got this class started back in early 2008. We want to thank Manny for taking the time to open up about everything, ranging from what his best qualities on the court, to the recent knee injury that has been bothering him.
Slipper Still Fits: Just to update your summer progress, we understand that you could not participate in the most recent U19 event in France because of an injury. Can you just talk about the injury and if you think it is a serious issue?
Mangisto Arop: Its like some tendinitis, and it started a month or month and a half ago, and it just got a little serious and it started hurting more and stuff. But me and the staff have been going to physical therapists and doing more stretching and icing. Its tendinitis, so its just uncomfortable, not anything that should be serious.
Slipper Still Fits: You committed to Gonzaga quite early on in the 2009 cycle. What made Gonzaga stand out so much for you and were their any other schools you were seriously considering? With your summer so busy with Team Canada, do you know when you are going to finally make it to Spokane?
Mangisto Arop: There were no other schools that I visited, I only visited Gonzaga. I just felt like Gonzaga was a special place and a good fit for me. I felt like the coaching staff was the right kind of people to help me progress, and it's a place that I can spend the next 4 years of my life and really help my game out.
There is not a set date right now, I'm just trying to go down to New Zealand and just play, and then I'm going home to spend time with my family, and then I will attend the Nike Global challenge in Portland.
Slipper Still Fits: Can you just talk about your game a little bit? Where do you think you really excel on the basketball court and what do you think you still need to work on?
Mangisto Arop: When I go to Gonzaga, I think I need to really rebound the ball and hopefully score and just do the things that I am good at and that got me here. One of the big things I need to work on is my shooting to make it more consistent, especially working on my 3-ball. I think my strength is creating and getting into the paint and causing the defense to rotate and have to make plays, and make the decision to guard me or the perimeter guys.
Slipper Still Fits: When people look at this 2009 class, the first thing that pops out is that there are three recruits from Canada in you, Bol Kong, and Kelly Olynyk. What does that mean to you personally, and what do you know about Bol and how he plays?
Mangisto Arop: Well I think so, because Kelly and Bol were both my teammates, Kelly right now, and I have known Bol for awhile and played with him in the past. It does make me more comfortable being able to go to school with my friends.
Like most people know, at least most people in Canada know, Bol has got a great jump shot and he is long, and he is a tough guy to defend because of his height and shooting ability and aggression. He is a wonderful player.
Slipper Still Fits: When you visited Gonzaga last September, another Gonzaga recruit, Sam Dower was also visiting. Have you built a relationship with Sam and the rest of the 2009 class?
Mangisto Arop: I still talk to Sam just to see how he is doing and stuff like that. He is a nice guy and he competes, and we still talk and check in with each other. We just keep in touch and stuff like that and these are the guys that we are going to spend the next couple of years with, and we want to build a good relationship.
Slipper Still Fits: Gonzaga lost five seniors to graduation and sophomore Austin Daye decided to go to the NBA Draft. With all that lost production, the 2009 class will be asked to contribute right away. Do you feel confident that you can come in right away and make an impact?
Mangisto Arop: I'm not really thinking about that right now. When I come down to Gonzaga, I won't have really competed at a DI level, and I want to trust my coaches and take on the challenges that are presented as they come.
We haven't had any serious discussions about my role. They have seen what I can do, and I assume they want me to score, rebound, and defend as well. But we haven't specifically discussed what they want me to do, and I think they are just waiting for the season to start, and then we will discuss that stuff.