(Editor's note: While we're faced with a sports-less world during the coronavirus pandemic, MTN Sports is going to re-publish the original stories from the #MTTop50, which launched in 2016 to profile some of the great boys basketball players in Montana history. Our intention is not to revise history, so we're not going to change the order in which the players were featured. However, some articles will include updates to reflect the latest developments in a player's career. This was the third story of the series, originally published on June 15, 2016.)
Brendan Howard has one year of high school left, and Dane Warp just graduated this spring. The next player on our list recognizing 50 of the best boys basketball players ever to step foot on the hardwood in Montana is a 2015 graduate.
Kendal Manuel could have certainly been considered among the top 20 Montana boys basketball players of all-time, but his career is still in its formative stages. Manuel didn't make his impact on the court in Montana until his junior year of high school at Billings Skyview, but he erupted when he did. Manuel, who lived all over the world in his youth, is now in Corvallis, Ore., playing at Oregon State with Tres Tinkle, a Missoula Hellgate product who will surely be ranked in the top 20.
Kendal Manuel stat sheet
After battling injuries early in his high school career, Manuel burst on to the scene as a junior, averaging better than 21 points and five rebounds per game for Billings Skyview. He took a small step back statistically as a senior but was the Falcons’ focal point in their run to the first state championship in program history. He played in the Montana-Wyoming all-star series and just finished his freshman year at Oregon State, where he’s playing for former Montana coach Wayne Tinkle.
(UPDATE: After a redshirt year, Manuel played two seasons at Oregon State, ultimately starting 25 games for the Beavers and averaging 7.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game in 2016-17. He transferred to Montana after the 2017-18 season and became the Big Sky Conference co-newcomer of the year in 2018-19 after averaging 8.7 points per game and shooting 42.2 percent from 3-point range. As a redshirt senior in 2019-20, Manuel averaged 15.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game for the Griz.)
… on Manuel:
Helena High coach John Hollow: “He was so hard to guard off the bounce. … It’s hard to play him off the bounce, because he’s so quick but he can shoot it, he can get to the rim. You just don’t see many athletes like that in Montana, hence why he’s playing Division I basketball out at Oregon State. I remember just enjoying watching him play. It was just fun to watch him play.”