Q&A with 5-star Karim Mane: What's next, NBA or college?
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The one-and-done remains intact, but it seems that every winter, a situation arises where we see high school prospects potentially jumping directly to the NBA. Thon Maker, Jon Isaac, Hamidou Diallo, Anfernee Simons, Jalen Lecque, and Akok Akok have either made the leap or considered it. This year, it is Karim Mane.
A sturdy, well-built guard that has shown the ability to play on and off of the ball, Mane will be a full year removed from his high school graduation and 19 years of age by the time the 2020 NBA Draft night arrives. This time last year, he was rather unknown, even to the Division-1 coaching masses. Following a breakout on the Under Armour circuit, and averaging over 11 points, four rebounds and three assists with the Canadian under-19 team this summer, Mane is now juggling the idea of jumping straight to the NBA next season.
In the meantime, a handful of programs have begun to place a priority in recruiting him, while others have backed off, not willing to waste their time with the belief that he will not attend college. Mane played two games with his Vanier College program this weekend with a slew of NBA personnel in attendance. We recap what Mane was able to accomplish, caught up with the five-star and discussed his development and the potential NBA path, along with his ongoing recruitment, and projected where he might be a year from now.
Nearly two dozen NBA scouts and personnel, including Cleveland Cavaliers’ general manager Koby Altman, was on hand for Mane’s outings in Connecticut. His first session did not go so well, where he made just one of his eight field goal attempts, though he did convert 10 of his 12 attempts from the foul line. Immediate reactions were that he should go to college and that his shot, which is not entirely broken but is far from consistent, was what would immediately hold him back next year.
The next day was much better but still not to the point that had the scouts salivating over his abilities. He made three 3-pointers, which added up to 28 points in all, along with 10 rebounds. He is a tremendous downhill driver that handles contact appropriately and gets to the foul line in large amounts.
In each of his contests, he missed the rim entirely on a long distance attempt but that will never be a defining dimension of his. Rather, it is his secondary playmaking abilities, finishing at the rim and defensive prowess on the perimeter that makes him so valuable.
DEVELOPMENT & NBA PATH
Corey Evans (CE): It looks like you have taken the next step with your body. What all have you been working on?
Karim Mane (KM): Right now, it is just my nutrition, that has been the most important thing for me. I have been on a meal plan since the year started. I have been getting into the weight room and I have my own plan for myself, so that has been a big part of it.
CE: What are your strengths as a ballplayer, what all do you bring to the floor?
KM: Facilitate the game, I make plays for myself, plays for my teammates, I am a playmaker and I make the game a lot easier for everybody, basically.
CE: We have talked on and off about your recruitment over the past few weeks and I know that it isn’t on your mind a whole lot, but what schools have you noticed speaking with you the most often?
CE: Why do you feel like it is a limited list? Are schools worried about wasting their time because of the potential NBA path?
KM: That has been a concern but, like I have told all the schools, me, right now, I am just focused on going to college and finishing my season right now, making sure that I grow as a basketball player and as a person. I am just focusing on this year and whenever it comes time to think about all of that, I will think about it.
CE: So, right now, push comes to shove, you’re going to college?
KM: Yeah. That is what I am focused on, going to college.
CE: The NBA thing, that is there. Over 20 NBA teams came here to see you today. What is your thought process on that right now?
KM: That is a great opportunity and that is the main goal, but, as of right now, I am about going to college.
CE: What is going to have to push you over the edge to go to the NBA instead of college?
KM: I haven’t really thought about it. Academics is really important to me and my family so that is why I am only thinking about going to college right now. If there is an opportunity, then we would have to really think about it, but as of right now, all of my thoughts are about going to college.
Alabama: “It is a great program. I know that they play fast and play efficient whenever they do play fast. The head coach (Nate Oats), that was his first time seeing me play in person, so that means a lot. For me, it is going to be about my relationship with the head coach so seeing him here today, that was a big plus with me, for sure.”
Marquette: “For them, it is basically come in and play then role that Markus Howard is going to leave. Coming and replacing that role, play with a lot of guards, I saw they just signed Dawson Garcia, and they have a good class, so they want for me to come in and be the leader of that class and make sure I run the team.”
Michigan State: “They have been really pushing the button and they came to my last game, the associate head coach came, and they have been on it lately and I think that Tom Izzo is going to come to one of my games in December.
“It is a great school and it is a great opportunity. They are losing their main point guard, so it is an opportunity for me to come in and replace that role.”
Maryland: “I took a visit there. I liked it. I got to get a good feel for the school, feel for the players and a feel for the team. As of right now, though, I am not thinking about making a decision right away.”
Making a decision: “For me, a part of my decision is just watching the team play and looking at how they play. Seeing their point guard, their plays and for me, I want to play fast so I want to play on a team that plays fast, too. As a point guard, I want to be put into a lot of ball screens, make reads off ball screens, and be part of a team like that.”
Time frame: “For college right now, I am just thinking about signing in the spring. Right now, I am just focused on the season.”
A native of Quebec, Canada, Mane stands close to 6-foot-5, weighs over 190-pounds, and possesses a 6-foot-10 wingspan. He has good size for a 2-guard in the NBA and great physical characteristics of a perimeter defender. Born on May 16, 2000, Mane is older for his grade level, though he was born a day after North Carolina’s Cole Anthony, but is a full year older than Texas Tech’s Jahmius Ramsey and Florida State’s Patrick Williams.
Speaking with Mane and several coaching staffs currently recruiting Mane, the general consensus is that he wants to attend college, at least for one season. If he does ultimately test the NBA waters, I would not be shocked if a draft promise would be granted for somewhere in the second round. As a side note, just last June, Jalen Lecque went undrafted but signed a four-year deal with the Phoenix Suns, with his first two years fully guaranteed.
Might that be enough for Mane to choose the NBA over college? He will be 21 by the time the 2021 NBA Draft rolls around, though development seems to be more of a central piece to his decision compared to getting to the league as quickly as possible.
Mane is set to take an official visit to Marquette on Jan. 4, could potentially visit DePaul on Dec. 14, has already visited Maryland, and could take a few others before signing in April. From there, expect for Mane to look at his NBA opportunities before make a decision shortly after. Will he follow in Maker, Simons and Lecque’s footsteps, or do as Jon Isaac did and spend a year in college before entering his name into the NBA Draft? A decision is still some time away.