Valdir Manuel flips from Seton Hall to Saint Joseph’s; Aundre Hyatt down to three

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In an eleventh hour turn of events, verbal commit power forward Valdir Manuel is now headed to Hawk Hill instead of Seton Hall.

Admit it: You knew something was up after the Patrick School (N.J.) product didn’t sign a binding letter of intent by the mid-May deadline.

However, the situation was thought to be similar to redshirt senior Mike Nzei‘s several years ago, when the forward had to sit out his freshman year due to a class credit issue which hurt his academic status.

While grades were definitely a factor here, the de-commitment appears to have been impacted by Valdir’s opinion of Seton Hall’s depth at his position — power forward — according to his high school coach.

This is a believable scenario that I had cited most times I was asked about the Manuel situation over the past few months. Manuel was always going to be a depth player at best this coming season with the potential to be more than that down the road.

Manuel has four forwards ahead of him on the Saint Joe’s depth chart, but that includes both positions, so he has some wiggle room to fight for minutes off the bench right away.

At Seton Hall, Manuel was projected behind Nzei and Sandro Mamukelashvili at power forward, depending on if Nzei is manning the center position, which Taurean Thompson will also occupy.

While comparable to Saint Joe’s for next season,  Seton Hall’s depth chart is even tougher in the future with both Thompson and Mamukelashvili sporting multiple years of eligibility and the May signing of Florida State center Ike Obiagu further muddying the long-term water for Manuel.

The above does not factor in centers Darnell Brodie and Romaro Gill, who will both be given the opportunity to play some minutes at the five coming off the bench behind Nzei/Thompson. 

That’s five forwards to compete with this season who weigh in at an average of about 6-foot-11, 235 pounds.

Now with two open scholarships for this season, all eyes turn to four-star forward Aundre Hyatt, who decides between Seton Hall, Rutgers, and LSU on August 10th after a back and forth recruitment that has left him reclassifying as a graduated high school senior.

Hyatt took an official to Seton Hall last week prior to cancelling his trip to Pittsburgh; he is still set to see LSU the first week of August just prior to his commitment. Hyatt will likely redshirt as a freshman.

Hyatt is thought of as more of a small forward than a bruising center, similar in position to sharp-shooting wing Jared Rhoden, who will help fill the void of Desi Rodriguez on the wing next season.

Hyatt would be a nice late-summer addition to the roster, even if he will do most of his damage in the distant future.