Penn State basketball received some important news Thursday as junior college center Valdir Manuel committed to the Nittany Lions. The big man chose Pat Chambers' squad over Rhode Island and West Virginia, but what's even more interesting is that he was once a Seton Hall/St. Joe's/St. John's commitment.
Manuel's recruitment has been a very long one with numerous setbacks. That's because he's been a D-I talent that was forced to go the junior college route at the last minute due to his academic qualifications coming out of high school. The St. Patrick School (NJ) product first committed to Seton Hall in the spring of 2018 after high school, but he never signed a letter-of-intent with the Pirates. Then in the eleventh hour, he switched his commitment over the summer to St. Joe's and planned to enroll on Hawk Hill for the 2018-19 season.
The Manuel File
- Class: 2020
- Size: 6'10/225 lbs
- Pos: C
- School: Harcum College (Elizabeth, NJ)
- Composite Rating: ★★★ (0.8556)
- Composite Rank: #39 (#4 Center, #1 in NJ)
But shortly thereafter, an announcement was made that he was not in fact going to enroll at St. Joe's and instead would begin his collegiate career at Harcum Junior College outside of Philadelphia. During his freshman season, he was pursued by Chris Mullins and St. John's. Manuel decided to commit to the Big East school last December, but then Mullins was terminated after a disappointing four-year tenure. Once again Manuel found himself on uncertain ground with his college future, so he decided to decommit and return for his sophomore season at Harcum, a nationally renowned program in the JuCo ranks.
While it's been a whirlwind of a recruitment, it's to Penn State's benefit as the Nittany Lions were able to seal the deal the last six months. Chambers adds an important big man for next season, as Manuel will be relied on to help fill Mike Watkins' departing shoes. After doing some research on him, you may be surprised to hear this description for the 100th time - a skilled, but very raw big man that has potential because he didn't start playing basketball until later in his scholastic career. At 6'9" 225 pounds, Manuel has high major size and athleticism, so he figures to make an impact on the defensive end as a shot blocker, but we'll have to wait and see what kind of offensive game he can bring in the Big Ten. For what it's worth, Street & Smith listed Manuel on their preseason Second All-American JuCo team.
Manuel is now the fourth member of Chambers' 2020 recruiting class, joining shooting guard D.J. Gordon, combo guard Dallion Johnson, and wing forward Caleb Dorsey. He will have three years to play two more seasons. With the uncertain status of freshman Abdou Tsimbila (not yet enrolled at Penn State), the Lions desperately need some big man insurance with Watkins leaving after this season and Jon Harrar after 2021.