By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – He is 7 feet tall and he plays basketball. Akolda Manyang made headlines at the state boys tournament because he did not play for Duluth East.

He was ruled ineligible because of an alleged smoking violation. He does not know yet if he will return for his senior season. Manyang is now playing the spring AAU season for the Howard Pulley Panthers.

This weekend he is trying to catch the attention of college coaches and trying to move his reputation in the right direction in the process.

Manyang was the final piece to the Duluth East puzzle for the state tournament this year, but he was not allowed to play because of accusations of smoking.

“Somebody allegedly made a report and they said they saw me at a bus stop or a street corner. I don’t even know the story yet. They said they saw me allegedly smoking on the day of my playoff game before we go to state. I was not,” Manyang said.

Manyang is playing in the Nike Tournament in Eagan this weekend for Howard Pulley, and one of his teammates is the top point guard in the state, Tyus Jones from Apple Valley.

“He’s quite a talent. Seven feet, you can’t teach that,” Jones said. “He’s a big presence in the lane, long, athletic and can run the floor well so he’ll help us a lot this summer.”

Manyang has something that could change his future because he’s 7 feet tall and he has the opportunity to play basketball.

“He’s a wonderful talent being 7 feet tall and being able to block shots and run the floor. He’s in great shape and he’s very intelligent on the floor so he will add a lot to our team,” said his AAU coach Antwan Harris.

He has some gifts you cannot teach, you just want.

“I’m more of an athletic big man. I can move around a lot. I really like doing a lot of other stuff than just posting up,” Manyang said.

With a gym filled full of big-time college coaches, this weekend is his chance to get on somebody’s radar and maybe change his life.

“It could be really fun because I’ve never had like a coach from a Kansas or Duke come to see me play, so I think it’s going to be really fun,” Manyang said.


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