Moffat County’s Chris Maneotis continues family legacy, signing for college hoops
For the Craig Press
With the stroke of a pen this week, recent Moffat County High School graduate Chris Maneotis took the next step toward pursuing his favorite sport beyond childhood.
The Maneotis family had cause to celebrate this week as Chris signed his letter of intent to join the basketball program at Arizona Christian University.
The faith-based college in Glendale, Arizona, operates in the Golden State Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, with the men’s hoops team ending the 2020-21 season 24-3, unbeaten in the conference before being stopped short by a loss in the playoffs.
“I was on a recruiting program, and the coach reached out to me through that and told me, ‘we have a developmental team, you have a chance to make the varsity team, you just need to come in and work,’” Chris said. “The entire team but three of their varsity starters are returning due to the COVID year.”
Parents Steve and Teresa joined their son for the signing of his paperwork to join the Firestorm Wednesday afternoon in the showroom of the family business, Victory Motors, along with multiple other family members and friends.
“We’re just so excited for him,” Teresa said. “It’s an excellent school.”
Steve, who also served as the head hoops coach at MCHS the past two seasons, spoke to the potential to make big things happen.
“You’ve got your work cut out for you, but you paid your dues, and you’re going to get your chance to wear that uniform and step on that varsity floor,” Steve said to Chris during the ceremony.
The Bulldogs compiled a 14-19 record in the past two seasons, the first of which included a particularly stunning upset of Western Slope powerhouse Gunnison, in which Chris, then a MoCo junior, hit a 3-pointer near the end of the night that proved to be the go-ahead bucket.
The past season saw more struggles with a shorter schedule and plentiful pandemic restrictions.
“Senior season was so different for these kids. The masks changed everything as far as I’m concerned, it made a lot of things so much more challenging,” Steve said.
Steve noted it was a point of pride that two basketball upperclassmen are moving on to collegiate hoops — Wesley Counts committed to Midland University in May — a world in which the coach competed both at Colorado State University and Chadron State College.
“I’m proud of the efforts that we put in as a staff to get these guys to the next level,” he said. “Basketball ends sooner than later for most, and I’m so excited for Chris to have this opportunity. I think it validates Chris’s efforts as a player, and it makes me feel good that I was part of building him up and preparing him for the next level.”
During his senior season, Chris put up 65 points across 13 games, as well as leading the team in both steals (23) and assists (31) to earn All-Conference Honorable Mention.
Steve noted that NBA point guard Chris Paul has been an example to players who can bring a great deal to the game even when out-sized, as well as the potential to contribute in ways beyond one’s own scoring.
“I’ve always talked to Chris about how it’s not always about the points but how rich you can make your teammates,” Steve said.
The signing ceremony also served as a way to honor one of Chris’s role models. Opposite a framed jersey bearing the name Maneotis with a game photo was a similar setup in recognition of Thomas Noble, who passed away unexpectedly July 3 at the age of 30.
Noble was likewise a Bulldog basketball alum, and one Chris remembered from his formative days.
“He’s one of the guys I always looked up to, I watched him play since I was little,” Chris said. “It was nice to be able to pay tribute to him.”
Noble went on to be an assistant coach in recent years, and Steve noted that he was pleased to work with someone who had been a positive presence during his son’s childhood, one of several hoopsters Chris idolized back in the day.
“I’m glad there was a group like that he could look up to,” Steve said.
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On a summer morning in southern Idaho, the day breaks early, before 6 a.m. The air is stale, never fully cooled from the heat of the day before.