Sacramento, Calif., native Ryan Manning spent a few minutes talking to The Gazette before leaving for basic training on Thursday morning.
What’s your biggest trepidation going in today?
For me it’s just being away from home. I’m a very family-oriented guy. Academics, I feel I’ll have no problem with them. I’m just trying to go out and have the right mindset that I’m just going out to do my job and do everything I can and just wait for basketball season.
Do you feel the prep school has prepared you for basic training?
Absolutely. I feel like because I went through the prep school that I’m so much more ready than all the directs. I know what I’m going to do. I know what to expect and what’s going to happen. It’s kind of a good thing and a bad thing. I know what’s going to happen, but at the same time I know what’s going to happen. There are two sides of it.It will be OK. I’m going out with the right mindset. I’m just going to stay positive and keep going. I’ve got Matt (Mooney) with me and a bunch of other friends in my squad.
Is there a bus situation similar to this when you enter the prep school?
No. There’s no bus to the prep school. At the prep school you just kind of walk in and drop off your bags and do in-processing stuff and then you walk out and line up and they start yelling at you right away.
I assume you’ve heard about the bus and its intensity, correct?
I’m just going to have to keep from laughing. I’ve heard stories about the directs who start crying and stuff.
When you were recruited, who much of the military aspect was talked up?
It was definitely talked up. The whole opportunity of this place was kind of talked into the military part because you graduate as an officer and are guaranteed a job with great pay. It’s an overall great opportunity that comes from the military. That was actually one of the main reasons why I ended up coming here. When I started being recruited I didn’t even think about the military, but when I started hearing about the job opportunities and career opportunities, that was a big reason why I ended up coming here. Basketball-wise, as soon as they said Mountain West, I said, yes, that would be nice.
Being a Sacramento kid, does the Mountain West carry a lot of weight?
We have Sac State, which is Big Sky. UC Davis is Big West. Fresno is about three hours away, Nevada-Reno is about two hours away. The Pac-12 is the biggest thing out west. I actually had two teammates in high school who are playing at San Diego State (DeCarri Allen and xxxx Williams). They got some minutes early in the year.
Some coaches want you to know every detail that you’re entering into, others take a different approach. How have the basketball coaches been in that regard?
They’re really good about letting us know. Personally I felt like I overlooked a lot of stuff last year that I was coming into. But overall they did a really good job of letting us know everything we were getting into. They do a good job of telling us we’re going to fine and that people have made it through it before.
Did you talk to a lot of cadets during your visits?
Not really, I was mostly with the coaches on my visits.
Did you go to any games as a recruit?
I went to the San Diego State game, UNLV, Boise State, I went to a bunch of home games while I was at the prep school. When I first came for a visit in high school I didn’t go to any games.
Did you come to the prep school determined to stick with it, or was it a feeling-out process?
A little bit of both. I was going in thinking that I was going to go through the whole thing. But then when basic started I didn’t know if it was for me. I spent much of the year thinking it wasn’t for me, but toward the end of the year I started to realize what a great opportunity I had to play Division I basketball and my career opportunities were just better than any other place in the world. I just decided I was going to stay.
The attrition rate here is obviously fairly high, and I’m sure you saw Tre’ Coggins and Darrius Parker are leaving, as well as a few others from that freshman class. What is it going to take to keep you here?
Really just basketball. Basketball is going to be my savior, I know that. I’m going to be in the gym as much as possible and try to use that as my escape. Be able to try to get away from all the yelling and the freshman hazing and everything. Just get in there and work out and hopefully get as much playing time and try to contribute to the team as much as possible.
As a player, you’ll line up in a wing position, right?
Yes, I’m a wing. Kind of a 2-3, 3-4, right around there. I’m originally a 3-4 and developing into a 2-3.
You play the same system at the prep school, so do you feel you have a leg up having gone through that?
Yes. I know most of the offense. There are some little things that they’ll throw at me. We’ll have an idea of it, but it’ll be a little different. But for the most part it’s the same type of stuff.
Do you like the coaches?
I love the coaches. They are really down to earth guys and really easy to talk to. Good times.
Your dad (Rich Manning) played in the NBA a little bit, right?
He did. He went to Syracuse for two years, then transferred to Washington. He got picked up by the Hawks in ’93, then got released the day before the season started. Then he played for the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Clippers. Then he went overseas and played in Turkey and Lebanon for a couple of years.
That would have been right about the time you were born, so were you born overseas?
No, I was born here. He got picked up by the Clippers in ’95, right after I was born. I was there all through Vancouver. I was born in Sacramento. But then the entire family went with him over to Turkey and Lebanon when I was really, really little. I still remember some stuff, though.
How involved was he in the recruiting process?
He was my mentor. He’s my everything. He’s actually one of the assistant coaches at my high school, so he was kind of my overseer for everything. He was definitely a big help.
What other offers did you have?
I had one offer from a junior college and I was going to take a visit to a Division II at Chico State.
Which junior college?
Did you visit?
I actually canceled that visit to come here for this visit. They were scheduled on the same day. I canceled that visit to come here and I committed right before I left.
Had more Division Is showed some interest, would this decision have been a little tougher – particularly as you were struggling at those times during the prep school? Do think having this as your only Division I avenue made it the carrot to keep chasing?
It made me stay here. You hate to think of it like that, but I knew this was my only D-1 offer and if I left here I wouldn’t have any other place to go. I stuck with it and toward the end of the year I was comfortable and I was ready to come back.
In your time at home did you sleep as much as possible?
A little. I got about 8 or 9 hours every night. I spent most of my time working out and hanging out with the family and the girlfriend.