May 26, 2013, 10:07 AM EDT
As a senior at Morehead State, Kenneth Faried led the country in rebounds averaging 14.5 per game despite standing at just 6-foot-8. Consistently giving up inches to bigger opponents who he was battling for rebounds, Faried certainly had to be a “manimal” to be the top rebounder in the country.
Two years removed from the college game, Faried remains involved in it as he sponsors a Kentucky-based AAU team appropriately called Team Manimal.
The coach of Team Manimal is Maze Stallworth, a former teammate of Faried’s at Morehead State. Stallworth approached Faried with the idea of sponsoring the club, and the NBA star happily obliged.
“It’s fun,” Faried said. “I love the game, so any way I can help out and give back is a nice feeling. To give back to these guys and watch them play their hearts out and play hard each and every possession is a good time…I supplied everything I could from top to the bottom, basically.”
Faried, along with several Morehead State teammates, attended Team Manimal’s AAU games over the weekend, and his presence infused the younger manimals to play that much harder: “He [Farried] just told me, ‘No matter what, play hard and don’t give up. Just keep playing,’ said guard Perry Ayers of Bowling Green High School. “It’s awesome to have an NBA player come look at us and give us the time. It makes me want to play so much harder.”
According to Stallworth: “Team Manimal is about guys playing hard and being unselfish and working hard, and that’s what Kenneth stands for.”
You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11
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