TERRE HAUTE —
Mangisto “Manny” Arop has spent much of his life searching. Or perhaps more accurately, life has forced him and his family to do so.
From war-torn Sudan to Kenya to Canada, Arop’s family has always tried to look to make their lives better.
Arop’s collegiate basketball career is following a similar arc. A top 100 recruit out of high school in Canada, Arop committed to Gonzaga and played two years for the highly-touted Bulldog program.
But playing time became scant as the 2011 season progressed, so Arop went on the hunt again.
This time, his life’s search has taken him to Terre Haute. And he hopes he’s found a collegiate home.
The 6-foot-6 Arop signed a Letter Of Intent to play men’s basketball for the Sycamores. He will be on the 2011-12 roster, but due to NCAA transfer rules, Arop won’t suit up for the Sycamores until the 2012-13 season.
It’s a wait he’s willing to make because he liked what he saw when he made a visit to ISU in May. Arop took a month to make his decision. He narrowed his choices to ISU and Valparaiso, but ISU was his choice.
“I think ISU has an endless list of things I like, but there’s two main reasons why I chose it,” said Arop in a phone interview on Tuesday.
“First, it’s a great basketball opportunity. We have a great coach and I have great teammates. The second part is academics. ISU has my major [Sports Management] and I can transfer easily into their program,” Arop explained.
ISU coach Greg Lansing is excited about the basketball potential Arop brings to the table. A member of the Canadian National Team, Arop certainly has credentials to be excited about. He’s a swingman who can play shooting guard and both forward spots.
“This is a really good get for us. There’s going to be a lot of minutes for him when he becomes eligible once Dwayne [Lathan] and Carl [Richard] graduate,” Lansing said. “He can do everything. He can score off the dribble and from the outside, but the nice thing is that he’s a big guard who can post up and score. He’s also a tremendous rebounder.”
Arop’s journey to North America started when his mother was determined not to raise her family in war-torn Sudan. Leaving Sudan with his mother and some of his siblings, Arop’s family settled in Kenya, but Arop’s family’s ultimate goal was North America.
Granted Canadian citizenship in 1990, Arop’s family settled in Hamilton, Ontario. It was there that he became recognized as an elite athlete, excelling in both football and basketball.
But basketball became Arop’s sole sport when Canada’s National Elite Development Academy came calling. He set the single-game scoring record with 42 points in an Academy game and was chosen to play for Canada in the FIBA Americas Championship in Argentina in 2008. He averaged 17 points and 10.2 rebounds during the tournament.
Arop will try out for the Canadian team again in August. He currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta.
“It’s something I want to keep doing. I’ll go down there and see what I can do,” Arop said.
Arop was a four-star recruit coming out of Hamilton and he committed to Gonzaga in 2008. He averaged 4.5 points as a freshman with the Bulldogs in 2010.
Arop averaged 3.4 points for the Bulldogs in 2011, including a 16-point game against Notre Dame on Dec. 11 and a 15-point effort against Marquette on Nov. 23. But Arop’s minutes came down as Marquise Carter came into favor for Gonzaga during the Bulldogs’ West Coast Conference campaign.
Arop requested and was granted his release by Gonzaga coach Mark Few in April.
“The best thing about it is he has time to get better and get comfortable. He’s got a whole year to get used to his teammates,” Lansing said.
Arop’s journey takes him to the U.S. Midwest for the first time. But Arop is looking forward to it.
“I’ve been moving my whole life. I think basketball can take me anywhere and I’ll be comfortable,” Arop said.
Arop will use the scholarship intended for Khristian Smith, who is currently a non-qualifier. Smith still intends to play basketball at ISU and is still trying to change his academic status. He is enrolled for the 2011-12 academic year, but can only have limited contact with the team and cannot practice or play until he is in good academic standing per NCAA regulations.