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Posted On: 08/17/18 9:00 AM
Class of 2022 forward Taj Manning of Grandview High was one of the shining stars of the inaugural Jr. NBA World Championships in Orlando, FL.
The 6'6" Manning helped the Kansas City/Kansas-based Drive5 Power Elite 2022 to the championship of the first ever international tournament featuring top 14U teams from around the world. Representing the USA Central Region, Drive5 defeated the Southeast team for the United States championship last Saturday, then came back to defeat Africa and Middle East for the world championship on Sunday.
"(The championship) meant a lot to get finally get Kansas City on the radar," Manning said. "It was also cool because when this event has been going on for a couple of years, we can say we were the first ever champions."
Manning was a big part of that championship effort with his inside dominance as a scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. He averaged 16.5 points and 9.7 rebounds as his team won all six games in the tournament. In the championship game against Africa, Manning had 20 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots.
In the final two games of the tournament, Manning had a total of 13 blocks. He had seven blocks in the United States championship game against Southeast to go along with his six blocks in the world title game. His rim protection was a big key to the victory over the African team that was at its best when it was attacking the rim off the dribble. Manning shut a lot of that down with his shot blocking.
"The key to us winning was getting them out of their comfort zone and making more jump shots," Manning said. "We knew that was a big weakness for them."
As one of the top incoming freshmen in the state of Missouri, Manning will be joining a Grandview program that is coming off a season where it won the Class 4 state championship.