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Big man Valdir Manuel discusses top three contenders

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Valdir Manuel

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Things have remained on the hush for the past few months regarding the recruitment of Valdir Manuel, one of the top remaining front-court prospects available this winter, though a few college suitors are beginning to emerge.

A 6-foot-9 center with excellent length, toughness, interior production and an improving face-up game, Manuel is the type of big man who can fill a variety of needs for a high-major college program next year.

During his stay in Florida this weekend suiting up in the Kreul Classic, Manuel discussed his ongoing recruitment. “I would say Rutgers and Illinois, those are the schools that I talk to the most. I haven’t been to Illinois yet but I have been to Rutgers a lot,” said the senior from New Jersey. “Seton Hall is talking to me still, too.”

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IN HIS OWN WORDS

Rutgers: “I like the head coach because he is always nice to talk to. I like the coaching staff and it is a good school.

“I like the campus because it is right there in Jersey, where I live, and it is just a good school all around.”

Illinois: “Coach (Orlando) Antigua is recruiting me. They just talk to me a lot and want to see what I think of it on a visit. They are texting and talking to me a lot.

“They just are telling me that they play in a great conference and a good league and I would be going up against some of the best bigs in the country. They haven’t offered me, but they told me they will.”

Seton Hall: “They have already offered me. They stopped talking to me a little after I got injured, but they are talking to me a lot again.”

WHAT'S NEXT

A commitment is not expected anytime soon, as Manuel has focused his entire attention on his final year of high school ball. “I haven’t taken any official visits yet,” he said. “I am just focused on my high school season, but I am probably going to set some visits up after my season finishes up.”

RIVALS’ REACTION

Manuel remains one of the better front-court prospects available this winter. He is a center who can produce both in the half-court setting, thanks to his rebounding abilities, a jumper that he can hit out to 17 feet and a soft hook in the lane. But he can also help on the open floor due to his mobility and strong motor.

Seton Hall was thought to be the heavy favorite for Manuel, but Rutgers and Illinois seem to have made a strong push in recent weeks. Expect all three to remain heavily involved, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise for a number of others to join the mix, too.