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OU men’s basketball: Brady Manek plays older brother Kellen Manek in front of family, hometown crowd

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Manek and Manek

Junior forward Brady Manek is boxed out by his older brother Kellen Manek during the exhibition game against Southeastern Oct. 29.

A few hours before Harrah High School basketball coach Chad Rochelle took him and his JV and varsity squads to Norman to watch the Sooners take on Southeastern Oklahoma State for an exhibition match Tuesday night, he was thinking about what he might see in the Lloyd Noble Center when Harrah High School alums Brady and Kellen Manek face off.

“I could see Brady maybe trying to get a switch where Kellen guards him,” Rochelle told The Daily, “and Brady tries to get a dunk on him. I could definitely see that.”

It wasn’t a switch, but Manek — in his junior year with the Sooners — found a lane in transition right in front of Kellen and made a two-handed slam right in front of his hometown crowd in Oklahoma’s 89-76 win over the Savage Storm. Manek finished with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting and eight rebounds while Kellen finished with 12 points and two 3-pointers. The crowd included 32 Harrah basketball players, friends and family, including the brothers’ parents, Cary and Tina Manek.

Cary wore a Chicago Cubs hoodie and Tina a camouflage shirt and green jacket to stay neutral.

Tuesday night’s exhibition was the first time in four years the Manek Brothers shared a court in competition, since the state playoffs in 2016. They shared the court for three years at Harrah, Kellen being a year older, playing with Manek in his freshman, sophomore and junior years. 

“It was unbelievable to see it,” Tina said after the game, “but also very sad knowing that this was the last time ever that I get to see them on the court at the same time.”

Surrounded by his team in the stands near the Lloyd Noble Center’s tunnel, Rochelle remembered the times in practice when Kellen would coach his younger brother in practice and in games.

“Kellen was always more verbal, more of a kind of verbal leader,” Rochelle said. “Brady was always a leader by how he practiced and how hard he played. He would just come to lead by example. If Kellen thought that Brady could be doing something better, then Kellen was going to call him out on it."

“I remember hearing Kellen, he would tell him, ‘Brady, you’re the best guy out there. Go be the best player out there.’”

Manek still visits the Harrah High gym whenever he's in town, and will sometimes practice and shoot around with the team.

Kellen was the one who gave Southeastern Oklahoma State its first lead of the night, when he made two threes at the top of the key in consecutive drives to put his team up 24-21 early in the first half, and the Sooners went into the half with just a 43-37 lead. Kellen was a physical presence in the paint, an area Rochelle says Kellen excelled at in high school over his brother.

There were multiple times throughout the match where the two were conversing. They spoke in between plays and sometimes when they lined up next to each other on the block during free throws.

“We joking a little every now and then,” Kellen said after the game. “It’s unreal that he’s here and that he gets to be under those lights every night and it was cool for us to get the opportunity.”

Manek and the Sooners shot 47.2 percent from the field, while freshman point guard De'Vion Harmon, in his OU debut, scored 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Freshman forwards Jalen Hill and Victor Iwuakor scored 11 and 10 points respectfully.

The Sooners’ season-opener will be against UTSA Nov. 5 in Norman.

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Caleb McCourry is the assistant sports editor at The Daily and is a junior at OU majoring in English. He's covered football, basketball and volleyball. 

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