(Photo courtesy of Jon Lopez).

Romelle Mansel: Big talent at a small school

As a freshman guard just a few years ago, Romelle Mansel was playing on St. Bernard Catholic School’s junior varsity basketball team. At 6-foot-1 he had good size for his age and had become an efficient distributor and dynamic ball-handler for the jv squad.

His talents were so remarkable for just a freshman that varsity head coach Mitch Runco decided to bring Mansel up to the varsity team for the playoffs. Since then he has been an integral part of the small school’s up-and-coming basketball program.

Now standing at 6-foot-9, and possibly still growing, the south-central Los Angeles native is the centerpiece of the Vikings offense and defense, helping the team make a name for themselves in Southern California’s highly competitive Del Rey League.

“Romelle showed tremendous growth this season,” said Runco, “it came from competition in our league.”

As one of the top players to ever come out of St. Bernard, Mansel has developed into a dangerous weapon; he is able to run the floor, dominate in the paint and drain shots from the outside.

Mansel attributes his unique talents to the skills he learned as guard, before hitting his growth spurt.“I move my feet really well for a big man,” said Mansell. “I like to pass a lot too.”

The junior forward went on to compare his development and skill set to that of NBA all-star forward Anthony Davis, who also had a growth spurt late in high school to couple with his guard-like skills.

When asked if Mansel is the best player to have played at St. Bernard Runco answered, “No question. You can’t teach 6-foot-9 and being able to run the floor the way he does.”

Mansel’s coach also praised the star-forward’s hunger to compete, “His motor and willingness to insert himself in games is where he improved the most.”

Along with his energy and confidence Mansell is also working to improve his range and physicality this offseason.

“Right now, I’m working on my jump-shot and also balancing it out with weights,” said Mansell, who is also the star player for St. Bernard’s varsity volleyball team in the offseason.

Looking forward to next season Mansell and Runco see the star forward taking an even bigger role for the team, being utilized in the pick-and-pop and as a shooter in the Vikings dribble-drive offense.

Until next season starts, however, Mansell has ample time to consider where he will be playing basketball at the next level. “Some schools talking to me right now are Pepperdine, Cal and Washington State,” said Mansell, “There are a couple others too.”

One school Mansell has his eyes set on is the University of Connecticut, even though the Huskies have not yet offered the four-star recruit.

When asked if he would consider playing volleyball for Connecticut, Mansell chuckled, “Not really, it’s just something I really like a lot.”