Column: Beverly Hills’ Jac and Jon Mani leaving their mark on the game, and each other
Tough and feisty. Those are words that best describe brothers Jac and Jon Mani.
A T-shirt that reads “Beverly Hills Ballers” would be appropriate for each to wear.
When an opposing player decided to give a little push during postgame handshakes last month, Jac decided to push back. Jon, in street clothes while recovering from an ankle injury, immediately entered the fray in case big brother needed help.
Except Jac, 18, needs no help. At 6 feet 9 with a scholarship waiting for him at UC Davis, he’s a senior who has improved with every season as he gains strength and molds his body. He averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds per game last season. He’s a determined rebounder, can block shots and is adding repertoire to his inside game.
Jon, 16, a 6-5 sophomore, injured his ankle in the first game this season and is expected back this week, giving the Normans a formidable brotherly duo. They’re Jewish Jordans, meaning basketball is their love.
They have a hoop in their backyard and for years have gone at it, elbows flying and fights breaking out on occasion.
“Their thing is basketball,” coach Jarvis Turner confirmed.
Asked if Jon has beaten him in a one-on-one game, Jac replies, “One time.”
Jon shakes his head.
“Why you lying?”
It sounds like the brothers have had some memorable backyard games that neither wants to remember.
“There used to be a lot of fights,” Jac said. “He’d be crying a lot.”
What’s clear is that both can shoot, rebound and are ready to enter nasty mode when needed. Their training together has been beneficial as they push each other to reach their highest goals.
“He’s good,” Jac said. “He helps me a lot.”
Said Jon: “We’ve trained together every single day. He’s the most skilled player. I’d say I’m a better finisher.”
When they finally get on the court together, they should help Beverly Hills become a competitive team against any and all opponents. The Normans are developing some quality young players to join them, such as junior guard Jameson Caruso, who scored 29 points in a double overtime loss to Santa Clarita Christian.
Turner has known the family for years through his camps in Beverly Hills. Jac started showing up in sixth grade and Jon followed. Jac said he developed shooting skills when he was young and practicing with his father.
Jac attended Milken for two years when his parents decided to give him a Jewish-based education before he returned to his neighborhood school last year. Jon has attended Beverly Hills both of his years.
Jon is just beginning to get some attention after a strong summer performance. “He’s athletic, long, defends, is competitive and can shoot,” Turner said.
As for Jac, Turner said, “He’s skilled. He’s probably our best shooter from three-point range.”
This is a good season for top Jewish basketball players to emerge. Rolling Hills Prep has Benny Gealer, a standout guard headed to Stanford. Shalhevet’s Avi Halpert scored 47 points in a game last week against Quartz Hill.
The Mani brothers are proud to serve as examples for future Jewish ballers.
“Me and Jac are painting a new wave for Jewish hoopers,” Jon said.
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