LOUDONVILLE — He’s ready for the next step.
And eager to take it.
Manny Camper announced Tuesday with a social-media post that he’ll declare for the NBA draft. The 21-year-old did that after his junior season with the Siena men’s basketball program, too, but Camper confirmed Tuesday in a phone interview that he plans this time to hire an agent and not seek to preserve his college playing eligibility.
“It’s definitely overwhelming,” Camper said. “It’s definitely a big step, but it feels good. I’m excited to see where my career goes, and to turn professional.”
The NCAA granted all athletes that competed during the 2020-21 season an extra year of playing eligibility because of issues related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but Camper will not utilize that year at Siena or any other college.
“I just feel like it’s time to start my career,” said Camper, a Siena senior.
On Tuesday, Camper earned his latest individual honor, as he was a National Association of Basketball Coaches District 1 first-team selection, while junior teammate Jalen Pickett was a second-team selection. That piece of recognition followed a senior season that saw Camper win MAAC Player of the Year and collect his second consecutive All-MAAC first-team selection.
“He,” Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said, “is one of the best players to ever play at Siena.”
It’s difficult to argue anything to the contrary. While Camper — a Chestertown, Maryland native who was the first player from Kent County High School to earn a Division I men’s basketball scholarship — rarely played as a freshman, he developed during his Siena career into one of seven players in program history to win MAAC Player of the Year.
“I think Manny’s probably developed as a player more than anybody I’ve seen since I’ve been here at Siena, from Year 1 to Year 4,” Siena athletic director John D’Argenio said earlier this year. “That’s what makes his four years here special — he did something good with each one of those years.”
“That’s a credit to the type of person Manny is,” Maciariello said. “These are the success stories that you love to hear about.”
In his senior season, Camper averaged 14.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, and led the MAAC in rebounds, double-doubles with six and minutes played per game at 37.9. He led the Saints to a share of the MAAC’s regular-season championship before the program’s 12-5 season closed with a loss in the MAAC tournament quarterfinals.
Camper said he met Monday with Maciariello to finalize his decision to end his college basketball career.
“I love coach Carm,” said Camper, who played for three head coaches during his four seasons at Siena. “He’s a great guy, and he helped me develop into the person I am today.”
Camper, a finalist for this year’s Senior CLASS Award, remains on track to graduate in May with a degree in marketing. He said he is in the process of hiring an agent, and is excited for the opportunity to begin a professional basketball career.
“These are my dreams, my aspirations since I was young,” Camper said. “The hard work is paying off. God is great, and he’s continuing to open doors for me.”