The Duluth News-Tribune reported this morning that Duluth East's 7-foot center Akolda Manyang didn't travel with his team to the state boys' basketball tournament as he awaits results of his appeal of a Minnesota State High School League rules violation. Manyang has been suspended after a ruling that he was "caught smoking on a street corner," according to the News-Tribune account.
At this point, it would be easy to go all ha-ha snarky on this one about the list of things that 7-foot kids shouldn't even think about doing in public.
Manyang, however, isn't going down quietly -- and the case has some atypical dimensions.
According to the News-Tribune, Manyang said that he twice asked to be tested to prove his innocence, but that officials at Woodland Hills, a treatment facility for at-risk youth where Manyang currently lives, turned him down. The news story also points out an alleged conflict between Woodland Hills officials and a Duluth East assistant coach who has sought to become Manyang's foster father.
Manyang was suspended for the Section 7AAAA finals last week and, in protest of his situation, five of his teammates refused to accept their championship medals after the Greyhounds beat Blaine 64-62 for the title.
Manyang averaged 18 points, 13 rebounds and almost a half-dozen blocked shots per game for the Greyhounds, who have a 20-8 record.
Duluth East will play Osseo at noon Wednesday in the Class 4A quarterfinals at Target Center.
Will Starks, the assistant who wants to be Manyang's foster father, told the News-Tribune: “Regardless of the decision they make, we’re not just going to forget about it. There’s going to be a firestorm no matter what after all of this, because people have stepped way over their bounds in the way they’ve handled this entire situation.”
Here's the rest of the story.