Manny Malou has been playing professional basketball since spring 2018, and though he may have never played a minute for Iowa State University, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a compelling basketball story.
Like most athletes, Malou has other interests outside of basketball.
“Other than trying to stay in shape and maintain my health,” Malou said, “I’ve returned to hobbies like drawing and reading which is a refreshing change.”
For those that haven’t been following Manny (@emmanuelmalou on Twitter and @emmanuelma1ou on Instagram), he’s been a vegan for the past four years.
“I never was really conscious about my eating habits during my time in the States, and as I got to bigger stages in my life I found that a healthy diet was optimal if I wanted to play at a high level,” Malou said, “I started off only making the switch to a plant based diet for performance purposes but as I became more aware of the devastation that eating meat causes the animals and the environment, I immediately switched from plant based to vegan.”
Malou, had his inspiration, as most aspiring athletes (driveway or professional) do. “Kobe Bryant, I had never even tried to like basketball until I watched a Kobe Bryant highlight video,” Malou said, “That year I also grew seven inches, it was just perfect timing.”
Before committing to Iowa State, Malou spent time at both ABCD Prep (Des Moines) and Yuba College (California).
“In retrospect I think playing for ABCD prep helped me a lot as a basketball player because I was put in a position where I had to be the “man”. We were playing against great junior college teams every week and I think that gave me an idea of what my following year at Yuba college would be like,” Malou said.
“As for Yuba College, I came in not knowing what to expect my first year and I had a few worries with the position Coach Corn had me playing in,” Malou said. “Playing the 4/5 just diversified my game and has really helped my overall style of play today.”
Iowa State wasn’t the only school pursuing Manny, as fellow Big 12 schools Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Texas Tech all wanted the 14.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks that he averaged at Yuba.
“There were more than just a couple things that sold me on committing to ISU.”
“I stayed in Des Moines for about two years and during that time, I met some great people that were willing to help me out in the situation I was in, I felt comfortable in Iowa and I thank my guys at Pure Prep and Terry Howat for that,” Malou said, “ISU was the first to acknowledge my talent and Fred Hoiberg was someone that I genuinely wanted to play for, and of course amazing fans at ISU.”
While we as Cyclone fans and members of local media will never know what Malou could’ve done at Iowa State, he still believes he made the right decision to enter the draft.
“I still believe that I made the right decision entering the draft because I wasn’t going to be eligible for even half a season at Iowa State, and I think that would’ve been pointless but then again I missed out on the D1 college experience which I so greatly wanted to experience. It was a hard decision for me to make,” Malou said.
Manny has played around the world (as have many Cyclones as you’ll find out in a forthcoming article), in places such as Estonia, Qatar, Thailand and Australia.
However, on his basketball passport, none of the aforementioned countries are his favorite stamp on his journey.
“My most recent stint in the Maldives has to be my favorite,” Malou said, “The combination of playing with great guys in the team and the amazing islands I visited made that experience memorable, never would I thought I’d get to play the game I love in paradise.”
In January I was watching a game from the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Pre-Qualifying Tournament which had South Sudan face off against Kenya in Nairobi, when, wouldn’t you know it, Manny is playing for the South Sudan National Team.
“Playing for my country was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world, we had a little amount of time to prepare for something bigger than the country itself. Luol Deng and the South Sudan Basketball Federation did a great job with organizing that successful three weeks we spent in Kenya,” Malou said.
“We still have a lot of work to do despite these victories. This experience has made me really feel apart of something special and it is easily one of my proudest moments.”
Thanks again Manny for sharing your thoughts about the bigger picture of some aspects of your life, I hope all goes well, and that you stay healthy in this time of COVID-19.