Manek eager to get started with Australian team

By R.L. Bynum

Brady Manek has found his next basketball home Down Under.

On Monday, the Perth Wildcats of the National Basketball League in Australia officially signed Manek, who had an outstanding fifth college season at Carolina last year in helping the Tar Heels reach the NCAA championship game.

“For me, it’s just really cool to be able to play and see another part of the world,” Manek said in a video the team released. “Just excited. I’ve played a lot of college, five years in college, and now I’ll get into playing professional. I’ve got a team that is excited for me and I’m ready to get back to work.”

Manek averaged 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Tar Heels last season while shooting 40.3% from 3-point range. But he’s eager to show Australian fans that there is much more to his game than shooting.

“Everyone says I’m a shooter and what they don’t really talk about is the awareness, the high IQ plays, the ability to pass, the ability to create something for somebody else, whether that’s setting a screen or being in the right position,” Manek said.

“I have the awareness on the floor, what’s going on,” Manek said. “Yeah, just playing hard, playing tough. There’s a lot that goes into my game that’s not in the stat sheet, a lot of stuff that doesn’t show up for those kinds of things. But I’m just really excited to get going again to get back to the basketball part of everything.”

The Wildcats have won 10 titles since 1990, most recently the NBL Cup crown in 2021.

Manek averaged seven points and four rebounds in an average of 14 minutes in five games for the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA Summer League.

“I watched Brady in Summer League and got great feedback from both the Hornets and both of his college teams,” Wildcats coach John Rillie said in a team release.“He always gives great effort, and he wants to get better.

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“Everyone is going to talk about his shooting,” Rillie said. “But I also think his passing, decision-making and just being a good teammate are also things people are going to love. He’s a passionate competitor so I think the fans will embrace the enthusiasm that he plays the game with.”

He is the third “import” Wildcats GM of basketball operations Danny Mills signed.

“He’s a great fit given his ability to space the floor as an efficient high-volume shooter with a high basketball IQ and good feel as an off-ball cutter and finisher around the basket,” Mills said in a team release. “His size and length will give us added versatility on the defensive end as well a presence on the glass at both ends.”

Other Americans on the team are former Providence guard Bryce Cotton and former Houston and Oklahoma player TaShawn Thomas, who last played for the Sooners three seasons before Manek’s freshman season.

Perth’s season starts Oct. 3 against the Brisbane Bullets.

Photo via wildcats.com.au

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