Serra basketball standout Henry Caruso and Aragon’s defensive end David Manoa have both orally committed to scholarship offers from Princeton and University of Hawaii, respectively.
Caruso’s recruiting was typical, while Manoa’s was less so. Caruso, a forward who can also play on the perimeter for the Padres, had been pursued by a number of schools, mostly lower Division I programs before Princeton expressed interest in him last spring and followed him throughout the summer. Caruso attended the Elite Camp at Princeton in June and Tigers coach Mitch Henderson offered a scholarship a couple weeks ago.
"The head coach saw me play at the S.I.-Serra game last year,” Caruso said. "Ever since then, I’ve been talking to them. They were following me all summer. … I like the coaches a lot and I like the players, they all seem like good guys.”
Caruso had to wait before making the announcement, to make sure he qualified academically, but found out this week everything checked out and he was good to go.
"The whole goal all along was to find a good fit, with the school and the program. I’m happy I got this out of the way now. I can now fully focus on the Serra season and not have to worry about what the future holds (as far as the recruiting process),” Caruso said.
Caruso is starting his third varsity season with Serra this year and has been one of the best players on the Peninsula the last two years. He averaged just under 16 points and eight rebounds a game last season while earning first-team All-West Catholic Athletic League honors.
"I’m really happy for Henry signing with Princeton. It couldn’t happen to a better kid,” said Serra coach Chuck Rapp. "He’s a great leader, hard worker, solid rebounder, solid post [player]. … He’s been a true credit to the Serra program in his time here.”
Caruso is glad to put the recruiting process behind him and he doesn’t anticipate the scholarship to have any impact on the way he goes about playing the game. While some athletes may feel like they have to prove their scholarship by trying to over play the game, Caruso doesn’t anticipate that happening.
"Any time you step on the court, you always have something to prove to someone. From a pressure standpoint, I want that pressure. I want to know the weight of the team is on my shoulders. I want to be the leader,” Caruso said. "That’s something that I’m not afraid of. It’s more of an opportunity.”
While Caruso’s recruitment was a months-long process, it was a whirlwind for Manoa. Aragon football coach Steve Sell said it came out of the blue when Manoa told him Monday Hawaii called him and offered him a full scholarship. Usually college coaches go through a prospect’s high school coach, but Sell was actually surprised that he hadn’t heard from any college recruiters about Manoa, including Hawaii.
"I was skeptical as hell (when Manoa told me about the offer),” Sell said.
Manoa, at 6-4, 220 pounds, has been an absolute beast at defensive end for the Dons this season, from rushing and sacking quarterbacks to making plays all over the field. He transferred from Hayward High and sat out the first half of last season due to transfer rules. He played in Aragon’s final four regular-season games and two Central Coast Section games. This year, he’s gotten stronger and still has room to grow.
"I’m just surprised at the timing,” Sell said. "I thought there might be a chance he might get [a scholarship offer] in the summer. Seeing his size and speed, being a high character kid and a good student, I really expected someone to jump on him. He only had six games under his belt (after last season). [Schools] were a little reluctant and he was a little raw.”
Manoa has a connection to University of Hawaii, according to an article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The article said Manoa’s father and family grew up in Hawaii. His uncle, Tim Manoa, played at Penn State before playing running back for the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts in the NFL.
"Last year, he was a great pass rusher. Now, he’s more of a complete defensive lineman,” Sell said. "He has good instincts. He’s an athlete.”