There has never been any question of Corey Manning-Floyd’s talents on the basketball court.
The Snyder High School senior has been nothing short of brilliant and put himself on the collective basketball map when his long-range shot at the buzzer knocked off state-ranked Hudson Catholic three years ago, when Manning-Floyd was an unknown freshman.
Now, the 6-foot-5 Manning-Floyd, a two-time Hudson Reporter All-Area honoree and a First Team selection a season ago, is coming to the end of his high school days.
And Manning-Floyd realizes that the chances for him to secure both a championship of some kind for the Tigers and a possible college scholarship are dwindling – for some reason.
As for a championship, Manning-Floyd and his Tigers are the hottest things going in Hudson County boys’ basketball right now, having won 10 straight games.
Manning-Floyd understood what needed to be done in order for the Tigers to become legitimate contenders for the Hudson County Tournament and NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II titles.
Manning-Floyd didn’t need to score almost 20 points per game, like he did last season.
“I had more people around me this year,” Manning-Floyd said. “I don’t care about scoring. I just wanted to win. I needed to play defense and rebound more.”
Snyder head coach Shelton Gibbs also knew what he needed from his star player.
“I think he obviously has a lot of experience,” Gibbs said. “He’s been on the varsity since his freshman year and he’s played a lot of games. So what we do all starts from him.”
Gibbs said that he has told Manning-Floyd over and over what’s needed from him.
“I told Corey that the rest of the team had to follow him,” Gibbs said. “I preach that every day. I said, ‘When you’re the go-to guy, they’re supposed to follow your lead.’ There was no pressure on him to score. He just needed to step it up everywhere else and play harder to get all five on the floor to play harder.”
So Manning-Floyd’s point-per-game average is down this season, from 20.3 last season to 15.5 per contest this year. Some might perceive that statistic to be a disappointing trend. But not for the people who matter most – namely Gibbs and more importantly Manning-Floyd.
“I just wanted to do everything I could to help us win,” said Manning-Floyd, who said that “he loves all his teammates and the coaching staff with all my heart.”
“One-hundred percent, it’s all about our goal of winning championships,” Manning-Floyd said. “That’s what’s in my mind.”
Manning-Floyd is definitely making his last go-round with the Tigers extremely memorable. They now have a 16-4 overall record and trail front-running Marist by only one game. They stand to receive a high seed in the upcoming Hudson County Tournament.
Manning-Floyd has been brilliant of late, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in limited action in a win over McNair Academic, had 17 points and 14 rebounds in a crucial win over rival Lincoln and had 30 points and 14 rebounds in an independent victory over Carteret.
And for his efforts, Manning-Floyd has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.
It marks the second time in his high school career that Manning-Floyd earned the weekly honor. He was the Reporter Athlete of the Week in the Jan. 10, 2019 editions.
The one statistic that figuratively leaps off the pages of the stat sheet has been Manning-Floyd’s rebound numbers. He’s averaging 10.6 rebounds per game, almost three full rebounds more per contest this season than last. Manning-Floyd grabbed 16 boards in a crucial recent win over Marist. He’s also averaging three assists, three steals and two blocked shots per game.
“I know where the ball is going to go,” Manning-Floyd said. “When I see the ball come off the rim, I have a better chance of getting the ball. I’ve always been able to jump, but I got my legs stronger over the summer. I was always in the weight room. I walked around on my tippy-toes, which helped my calf muscles and leg strength. It really helped me a lot.”
Gibbs can notice Manning-Floyd’s difference off the glass.
“We need him to go inside,” Gibbs said. “We need him to have the ability to rebound.”
Manning-Floyd’s shooting ability has also improved. He used to reside on the perimeter, nailing 3-pointers left and right. But this year, Manning-Floyd has concentrated on taking closer shots, which means better shots which means better chances of going through the hoop.
“When the other team goes out to cover others, it leaves Corey open to take much better shots at a much higher percentage,” Gibbs said. “I think he understands the difference between a good shot and a bad shot. Because he handles the ball so well, there aren’t many fours [power forwards] that can cover him.”
“Most of my shots are now of the mid-range area,” Manning-Floyd said. “I feel really confident about the shots I’ve been taking.”
Manning-Floyd wanted to make sure that he has not lived off his rookie heroics against the Hawks.
“I didn’t want to be just known as the freshman who beat Hudson Catholic,” Manning-Floyd said. “I want to be known for more than that.”
Gibbs, who was a standout player at Snyder during his heyday and became a Hall of Fame player at St. Peter’s College in the early 1980s, loves the way his protégé has been performing.
“He’s not forcing the situation,” Gibbs said. “He’s taking better shots. He’s getting better shots, better percentage shots. He’s getting good clean looks. He may be getting bumps and bruises playing down low, but he’s handling everything well.”
Now, as for the college recruitment.
It’s downright astounding that the college recruiters haven’t swarmed to Bergen Avenue to get a chance to secure Manning-Floyd’s services. The offers are minimal.
“The [NCAA] Division III’s have called,” Gibbs said. “But the Division I schools haven’t. I’m very surprised by it. In fact, it reminds me a lot of me.”
Gibbs was a late bloomer in high school and received very few offers before the late Bob Dukiet gave Gibbs a scholarship to Harvard on the Boulevard. It worked out well for the coach.
“I’m really not worried about it,” Manning-Floyd said. “I’m going to continue to do what I’m doing. I’m not worried at all. I know there has to be a school to give me a shot.”
As for the second goal?
“I think what we’re doing as a team really makes me proud,” Manning-Floyd said. “We really have a good team.”
As long as the Tigers continue to play “Follow the Leader.” – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com