This April, Yale forward Greg Mangano made an announcement unusual for Ivy League players just finishing their junior season: he was declaring for the NBA Draft.
The decision came as a shock to many who had never heard of Mangano – a 6-10, 240-pound big with a nice touch who toils in a league with no television deal or athletic scholarships. But while Mangano’s work may have gone unnoticed by the common fan, NBA scouts were paying attention this season as he lit up the Ivies for 16.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
“My coach (James Jones) came to me and told me that there was some interest from some teams and that he had spoken to a couple scouts and they thought it would be a good idea (to declare),” says Mangano. “I wasn’t opposed to it at all. We figured we’d put my name in there.”
But less than two weeks after submitting his paperwork to the NBA, he pulled his name out, opting to return Yale for his senior year.
While the forward declined offers to attend workouts in front of NBA scouts in order avoid potential issues regarding his NCAA eligibility, Mangano felt his decision to declare helped boost his profile.
“It gives you some exposure,” says Mangano, “kind of puts you on the map. Hopefully more scouts will continue to look at me throughout next year.”
By withdrawing from the draft, Mangano may have missed one opportunity to prove himself against better-known competition from the major conferences. But it looks like he will have another shot this summer.
In June it was announced that Mangano was one of 22 collegiate players to accept an invitation from the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee to attend the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games Team training camp.
The camp, which opens July 29 in Colorado Springs, Colo., will give Mangano a chance to prove himself against the likes of UConn’s Alex Oriakhi and Texas A&M’s Khris Middleton, as the 22 invitees battle to make the 12-person roster that will compete in the August competition.
“I think that’s an honor to get that opportunity,” says Mangano. “It would be incredible to make the team. There are some good big men; there are some great guards. It will be a challenge. That’s what will make it fun.”
Regardless of whether Mangano makes the U.S. squad, the Orange, Conn. native will have one last season with Yale to impress scouts. The Bulldogs, fresh off an 8-6 league finish, have a tall task ahead of them this upcoming season in an increasingly competitive conference. Mangano, Yale’s top returning scorer and rebounder, will look to lead the Bulldogs in its quest for its first outright conference title since the 1961-62 season.
“It’s going to be a tough league,” says Mangano. “We think we have a good shot.”
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