At the forefront of Karim Mané’s development and still present in the close guard of the Orlando Magic playmaker, Nathan Grant only fully realized the feat of his protégé in the final hours.
“It really hit me hard that he was now an NBA player on Tuesday night when I spoke to him from his room in Orlando and he showed me his Magic jersey with his number 4 on it,” expresses Grant, who took Mané under his wing in 2017 with the Quebec team that participated in the Canada Games. I was proud of how far I had come. All the credit goes to him. He’s the one who gets up every morning to train. “
Ignored in last Wednesday’s draft, the Vanier Cheetahs 6’6 ” guard agreed two days later with the Magic as a free agent becoming the first RSEQ player to jump straight into the NBA without passing. through the usual NCAA route.
“We always kept in mind that there was a possibility that Karim would not be drafted,” said Grant, who has led the Laval University Rouge et Or since June 2019. It is the best thing that could have happened. Karim had destinations in mind heading into the draft and Orlando was one of them. It’s a good place to get a real chance to do things. He finds himself in an environment where people believe in him. During his interviews, it was with Orlando that he felt the best vibes. He was most comfortable with Orlando. “
Grant remembers Team Quebec’s camp in 2017. “Karim was the 4e best guard of the team, he says. I didn’t see any qualities out of the ordinary or potential in the NBA. However, he was hardworking and attentive. As a coach you can’t ask for better. This is the type of athlete you are looking for. It’s impossible for anyone to work more than him and that is his main attribute. “
“After his first year at Vanier, he progressed so quickly and that’s when I started pushing him towards the national team,” continued Grant, who was with Mané in a Montreal gym. , last Friday, when the latter confirmed on his Twitter thread that he had reached an agreement with the Magic. In the Canadian U-19 camp, he realized he could go a long way in basketball and that he was as good as the players from Ontario. He became a special athlete and he started working even harder because he didn’t want to miss the opportunity that was presented to him. “
Entirely Quebec product
Mané’s course is one hundred percent Quebecois. “There are a lot of beliefs that you have to get out of Quebec to be successful,” Grant says. That there is a secret recipe elsewhere, I don’t believe it. If you have what it takes to be successful, you can do it anywhere. Recruiters will find talent anywhere. The recipe is difficult because Karim is still in the gym, but it is not complicated at all. I hope the young people will see this story, stay in Quebec and keep pushing even when things are not going well. “
When he was selected as the Rouge et Or head coach, Grant knew he couldn’t be so present in Mané’s journey. He then turned to his great friend Damian Buckley, who took over on a daily basis.
“Damian is the only person I would have given the green light to take over,” said Grant, who is the godfather of Buckley’s oldest son. He’s a best friend of mine and we’ve known each other for over 20 years. Damian was already working with Karim. As soon as the announcement of my departure became known, two or three coaches contacted Karim in the following days to offer their services. “
“For my part, it was difficult not to work so much with Karim anymore, but I’m lucky to do what I want,” Grant continued. We find ways to work together. He came to train in Quebec a few times. When the Rouge et Or play in Montreal on Friday, I stay there and we work together the next day. We also communicate a lot. If I had had any concerns about his development, I would not have applied for the position with the Rouge et Or. “