There is no textbook for what Karim Mane is trying to do.
A 19-year-old teenager from Saint-Hubert, a suburb on the southern coast of Montreal, announced his right to participate in the 2020 NBA project last week.
Of course, getting into the NBA is the goal of many young people of his age, but what makes him unique is that he is trying to make the jump directly from the Quebec college system, CEGEP.
“If you work for it, heaven is the limit,” Manet said.
No one has ever jumped directly from CEGEP to the best world league.
In fact, this path is so unlikely that few young players stop in Quebec to even try it.
“Most Quebec ball players usually leave; they go to the States or go to Ontario to go to preparatory school. But staying here, I emphasized that you do not need to leave. You can go to CEGEP, and if you are focused and talented, you can go wherever you want, ”Manet said.
Manet recently completed his playing career at Cheetahs Vanier College, a school that has earned a reputation in the province as a springboard for the NCAA Division One basketball programs.
Andrew Herzog, a longtime Cheetah head coach, says Mane’s plan to break into the NBA is ambitious, but admits that in his 42-year-old coaching career, he rarely encounters such talent as Mane.
“Karim is a special case,” said the Duke. “I do not know if I have ever seen a player with such a steep development curve. The way he was just starting to develop and how he felt better is not only a tribute to his incredible work ethic, but also his mind and determination to do whatever he needs to get better. “
FIBA U19 World Cup – a turning point
At a time when, last summer, Manet came up for Canada at the U-19 World Cup, he became a promising NBA player.
“He got to the rim and finished. He dipped it on people, ”said David De Averio, who was an assistant coach for Canada until the age of 19.
“When NBA scouts see Karim, they see a 6–4 point guard who can get to the rim and attack the rim. He is athletic. It also recovers well for its size, and so I think it checks a lot out of the boxes. “
As a rule, NBA scouts were not allowed to speak directly with Mane when he played for Canada at the World Championships, but their interest in him became known through a reporter.
“I had an interview with a guy from ESPN, and he told me that I have the right to participate in the project, and people look at me,” Manet said. “I was like – wow!”
“Fortunately for me, I had a few big games, and then it all started to happen.”
Herzog said four NBA scouts came to the Cheetah season kick-off last year at Jean-de-Brebeuf College to see Manet play. Later, in the fall, when the team went to the tournament in the United States, scouts from 16 different NBA teams came to see Mane.
“He was probably the most recruited player in Quebec history,” Herzog said.
In addition to the interest from professional teams, NCAA schools closely monitor Mane. Marquette, Michigan, Dupole, and Memphis are among American universities that have heavily recruited him, and these are just a few.
Senegalese kid got a late start in basketball
The Mane family immigrated to Canada from Senegal when he was seven years old. He says that as a little boy, he dreamed of becoming a professional footballer and does not even remember how he touched basketball until he attended D’Iberville elementary school.
“I went to a new school – everyone played basketball during the breaks, so I was forced to play basketball,” he recalls.
It took up to 16 years to seriously engage in sports. The catalyst was that I lost the championship final during a game with Lucien Paget High School.
“We lost in the final. It really hurts, and it was here that I realized what really matters to me. This is where I switched. I said, “Well, the time has come to take this seriously” – and from that moment on, this was the main focus at my end. “
Since then, Mane’s trainers have said that his pursuit and desire for success both on the court and in the class was nothing short of an exception.
“English is Karim’s third language, and he never went to school in English until Wannier, and he has almost school ivy League grades,” said the Duke. “He is a complete package.”
“He’s like a sponge. He wants more information and wants the information to keep flowing, so he can just get better, ”said De Averio.
Manet says that his parents taught him work ethics, and he believes that all of this is rooted in Senegal.
When he was 15 years old, he returned home to his parents for the first time after immigrating to Canada. The trip made a big impression on him.
“It’s really competitive there,” he said, “no matter what you do – go to school, play football, do karate or something else – everything you do, you must be the best because everyone wants to to be the best. “
Keeping all options open
Despite the fact that entering the NBA on the project this year is the number one priority, Mane does not want to see the tunnel.
Playing the NCAA for one year or longer is what he is considering. If he follows this path, he says that he is interested in studying finance.
In addition to college, says Manet, professional play in Europe is another option for next season.
His father and his uncle Maurice Ndur help him navigate this process. Ndur played 32 games with the New York Knicks in the NBA and now plays professionally in Valencia, Spain.
“Right now, I just want to leave all my options open, and now I don’t feel that I need an agent because I have my uncle – he is my main adviser in this process, so I’m good at that,” he said. Mans.
The outbreak of COVID-19 prevented Mana from showing herself to potential suitors, because all personal training has been suspended. In addition, he missed the opportunity to participate in the Nike Hoops Summit – an elite demo game – because it was canceled.
He still hopes that someone will call his name and choose him if the NBA draft proceeds according to the plan on June 25th. But even if he does not hear his name, he is determined to find his way into the NBA anyway and become an example for other young players in Quebec.
“I never had someone to look at to go this way. Therefore, I am glad that I am the one who does this, and I am grateful for this opportunity. ”