NCS Junior of the Year
EZRA MANJON, HERITAGE
One of the big question marks for Heritage entering the 2017-2018 season would be how the Patriots would replace the production they had enjoyed on both ends of the court at the guard position during a 27-win season and Bay Valley Athletic League title in 2016-2017. Enter junior transfer Ezra Manjon, who took charge of the Patriots in his first season after moving from Ohio, and helped lead them to a school-record 29 wins and the first North Coast Section title in program history.
Manjon played on the varsity at Lincoln-Gahanna in the Columbus area of Ohio as a sophomore, helping the Golden Lions to a 14-11 overall record, before his family relocated to Brentwood prior to his junior year. The timing could not have been better for Heritage, which had graduated twins Tyrese and Tyriq Mack, along with Anthony Dennis, from last year’s backcourt. He made an immediate impression on Patriots’ coach Pat Cruickshank.
“Right away, it was clear that he was not only talented, but a very hard worker,” Cruickshank said. “He is also a great guy in the locker room, and just seamlessly became one of the leaders of this group.”
The first-team All-BVAL selection put up stellar numbers throughout the year, and finished the season averaging nearly 16 points to go with five assists per game. His lightning-fast first step not only made him able to create offensively for himself, but also produced open shots for returning league MVP Jonathan Ned and senior sharpshooter Jacob Williams. Manjon was also strong defensively, averaging two steals per game and not hesitating to take on the best backcourt scorer an opponent had to offer.
“When we were game planning for Dublin, Ezra asked right away, ‘When do I get my chance to guard Robby (Beasley)’?” Cruickshank noted. “That’s just the mindset he brings to the court.”
That particular game – a 100-98, double overtime win against the Gaels – was arguably Manjon’s best performance of the season, as he exploded for 33 points and eight assists. But it was clear from day one that he was going to be a steady force for the entire year.
“I adjusted to playing at Heritage so quickly because of the players and the coaches. They helped me through the beginning of the season. Some of the guys would make sure to sit down with me at lunch and just go over all the plays, and it helped me a ton,” Manjon said. “This team was very naturally easy to gel with, just an unselfish group that played to win as a team. Winning Division I with these guys was a feeling of pure joy.”
As the year wore on, it was clear that Manjon’s role as a floor general was paramount to the success of the Patriots. When Antioch threatened late in the year to end Heritage’s bid for an unbeaten run through league play, Manjon responded with a game-high 23 points, spurring an 18-4 run to close the game. In the first round of the section playoffs, he set the tone with five steals as the Patriots held San Leandro to 16 points in the first three quarters.
“He was the engine that made us go,” Cruickshank said. “He developed into not only a great basketball player, but also an emotional leader, someone who could both keep us settled down when we needed it, and get us fired up when that was necessary.”
For his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Ezra Manjon as our North Coast Section Junior of the Year.
Other players considered for this award include Branson’s Viktor Rajkovic, Moreau Catholic’s Max Anderson, and St. Joseph Notre Dame’s Julian Vaughns.