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Fans Are Buzzing Over College Basketball's New Larry Bird

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Larry Bird was a once-in-a-generation talent who transformed the game of basketball with his high basketball IQ and rare set of skills.

On the court, there will never be another to play like Bird, but there is a talented young player at Oklahoma University named Brady Manek who looks just like him. And his game is pretty good, too.

Manek, a 6-foot-9 sophomore out of Harrah, Oklahoma, bears a striking physical resemblance to Bird — same face, same hair, same wispy mustache, same height.

And he has some game. As a freshman, playing alongside NCAA leading scorer Trae Young, Manek started 26 games and averaged 10.2 points per game. He also pulled down 5.2 rebounds per game, which was 17th in the Big 12.

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He also shot .383 from 3-point range, which was 14th in the conference. Further, he was one of only nine Division I freshmen to produce at least 160 rebounds and 50 3-pointers.

Here is Manek last year, pouring in 28 points against Oklahoma State. He didn’t have the trademark Bird hair last year, but he did have the sweet jumper.

This year, with Young having moved on to the NBA, Manek should be primed for a breakout season for the Sooners.

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“I’ve always been able to shoot,” Manek said last January in an interview with Sooner Sports. “I grew up playing against people who were two or three years older than me. You can’t just go in there and shoot a layup because they’re three years older than you and you’re a little kid. I always had my brother (Kellen) on the team and he was the bruiser down low. I was always finding ways to get open and moving without the ball.”

Manek’s coach, Lon Kruger, told Sooner Sports last year that they didn’t expect him to be this good, this fast.

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“We expected him to be a really good college player,” Kruger said. “We didn’t know how quickly, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.”

Manek may never reach the heights of his legendary doppleganger, but it’s a pretty good player to emulate.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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