Akolda Manyang away from Sooners after brother's death

ByMyron Medcalf via ESPN logo
Thursday, March 24, 2016

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Oklahoma reserve center Akolda Manyang will miss Thursday's Sweet 16 game against Texas A&M after temporarily leaving the squad last week following the death of his brother, coach Lon Kruger said Wednesday.

As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Ater Manyang was found dead late Friday afternoon at a treatment facility for people struggling with substance abuse in St. Peter, the Ramsey County, Minnesota, medical examiner's office said. He was 24.

Nancy Johnston, state deputy human services commissioner, told the Star Tribune that her office is investigating the "circumstances and reviewing all relevant polices" related to Ater Manyang's death, but she had no further details.

Akolda Manyang, a junior who has averaged 8 minutes per game for Oklahoma, played 14 minutes in the Sooners' first-round victory against CSU-Bakersfield on Thursday but missed Sunday's win over VCU after he returned to Minnesota following his brother's death.

"He's struggling," Kruger said Wednesday at the Honda Center during his team's pregame news conference. "It's a tough tragedy. Losing a family member like that, everyone deals with it a different way. ... [We're] certainly thinking about him, and his teammates and coaches are in contact with him constantly."

Manyang and his brother came to the United States as Sudanese refugees and spent part of their youths in Minnesota. Ater Manyang graduated from Century High School (Rochester, Minnesota) as the school's all-time leading rebounder and scorer but was dismissed during his senior season for violating team rules, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Oklahoma star Buddy Hield said his teammate's absence over the weekend "fueled" the Sooners' win over VCU.

"We were playing for him," Hield said. "[We want to] make sure he knows we're still family and we're out there thinking about him, and we're trying to stay alive until he can get back in this tournament and he can help us out."

Kruger said the funeral services for Ater Manyang are scheduled for Saturday.

Related Video