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|Celtics reserve guard Jackie Manuel, above, won a National Title in his senior season at North Carolina.(Courtesy of cstv.com)|
The Celtics made a splash on the remaining NBA free agent pool soon after the Kevin Garnett trade was complete. On Aug. 1, signed a key role player, guard Eddie House. The C’s also signed someone that day that has seemed to slip through the cracks since then: former UNC guard Jackie Manuel. Not only did he slip through the cracks of the NBA, he also went unnoticed for a while by the Celtics official team website. Until recently, Manuel wasn’t even listed on the Celtics.com roster. So who is Jackie Manuel?
Manuel entered professional basketball in 2005, but has bounced around ever since. He went undrafted in the 2005 NBA Draft, and then signed with the Fayetteville Patriots of the NBA Developmental League (NBDL). He appeared in only one game to to injury. In the 2006-2007 season, Manuel was selected in the NBDL Expansion Draft by the Los Angeles D-Fenders, where he averaged 9.5 points and 3.8 rebounds. The team name fits in with his style of play; Danny Ainge told the Boston Globe’s Shira Springer that Manuel is a “a great defender.” He also played in four preseason games with the Orlando Magic in 2006, averaging 5.0 points and 2.0 rebounds.
|The official “Jackie Manuel has a posse” t-shirt, shown above.(Courtesy of tubafrenzy.org)|
Manuel was a senior tri-captain when his North Carolina Tarheels won the 2005 National Championship. In that season, Manuel 5.5 points and 2.8 rebounds. He was second on the team with 48 steals in 37 games (37 starts). Besides winning a national title, the 6’6″ guard also earned ACC All-Defensive team honors during his junior (2003-04) and senior (2004-05) seasons.
During his college years, Manuel was a fan favorite for his defense and hustle. There was even a fan-following that produced t-shirts that state: “Jackie Manuel has a posse.” The shirts, even today, are extremely popular among Tarheel fans.
In all likelihood, Manuel will only play sparingly in a few games here and there as the last man off the bench (even behind Brandon Wallace). His defensive ability is a huge asset, and it may earn him more minutes toward the end of the season. With Manuel, I envision a Justin Reed-type player (who was also a good defender). He may get some time this season playing for the NBDL to help hone his skills, especially on the offensive side of the ball. His defense, at least from what Ainge said, is very strong. On the revamped Celtics with a new defensive philosophy, Manuel could shock some by earning minutes in key defensive situations this season.
Jackie Manuel’s player projection for 2007-2008: