There’s a lot to like about Manny Thomas on and off the basketball court — especially his 6-foot-5 frame, unquenchable work ethic and 93 average in the classroom. Those attributes piqued the interest of several Division I schools over the summer, but the one program that particularly impressed the senior swingman at Xaverian was Marist and on Monday he verbally committed to the Red Foxes.
“I loved the coaching staff, the location is nice and my parents could come and see the games, I think we have a nice group of guys that anything is possible,” Thomas told The Post. “When I was at the individual workouts I felt comfortable. That’s what definitely swayed me to go to Marist.”
Thomas had a final four of Marist, Robert Morris, Mount St. Mary’s and Wagner. He had an official visit planned at Robert Morris this weekend, but after taking his third trip to Poughkeepsie last weekend, Thomas’ mind was set.
“I’ve already seen both schools so I kind of had an idea of what both were like,” Thomas said. “I just felt if I was comfortable, why wait when you could just get the decision off your chest.”
Thomas said he was especially comfortable with Marist coach Chucky Martin, a Bronx native who played at St. Raymond’s.
“The first time we met we clicked instantly,” Thomas said.
Thomas was third on Xaverian last year, averaging 9.2 points per game, but he vastly improved during the summer. As soon as the season ended, Thomas was in the Xaverian gym, constantly working with Chris Alesi, the Clippers freshman coach, on his shooting. That work paid dividends.
“Manny Thomas a junior and Manny Thomas a senior are going to be two different players. He’ll outwork any kid in any program and that was very evident in summer league play,” Xaverian coach Jack Alesi said. “He did not change his game for the AAU circuit. He played the game that he always plays and that’s in a team concept … His shooting has improved, his ball handling. He’s just blown up from last winter to this summer.”
In a day where advisors and outside factors play such a big part in players’ college decisions, Alesi said he was impressed that Thomas’ parents, Ian and Darlene, were so heavily involved in the process.
“I’m thrilled for Manny and his family. What made me so happy about this is that the biggest influence throughout the whole recruiting process was his parents,” Alesi said. “They are terrific people who organized his visits for him, we had extensive conversations about things after every visit. It was just done the right way.”
While Thomas, who will likely play on the wing for the Red Foxes, is going to Marist to play basketball, he said the school’s high academic standing was also important.
“One of the major reasons why I chose it was because they’re one of the top schools academically and they could become one of the top basketball programs, as well,” Thomas said.
Thomas has the qualifying SAT score and now has made his college decision before the start of his senior season. But he’s not satisfied.
“I feel great, but I know it’s not over,” Thomas said. “I still have to keep working hard, keep working on my ball handling, shooting, everything. It’s not over yet.”