Northwestern State’s president, Marcus Jones, was also on the call, easing Enmanuel’s mother’s concerns in Spanish, which he speaks fluently. Jones hosted Enmanuel and his parents for breakfast during his recruiting visit.
“The main thing — and I think we’ve held true on this — is they did not want their son to be treated as a number or as someone who would be exploited because he was popular on social media,” Jones said.
One accommodation has been enlisting Christian Paez, a Colombian native and honor student who has played saxophone in the school’s jazz orchestra, as a graduate assistant with the team, helping ease Enmanuel’s integration. Paez doesn’t know much about basketballs, but w hathe it’s like to drop into small-town Louisiana when your English is a work in progress.
“When I came to the airport and went to a fast-food place, I knew how to order, but I was afraid to mess up and have people laugh at me,” Paez said. “He was the same when he got here. But he’s not somebody who is afraid. If he wants to develop a skill, he can do it.”
Enmanuel has been adamant about not receiving any special treatment on the team.
When Gipson told him he could do situps instead of fingertip push-ups as punishment for a mistake in a drill, Enmanuel resisted — completing the task with the help of a teammate, Cedric Garrett, who supported him around the waist.
Earlier this season, the Demons were whizzing through an NCAA survey for college athletes, eager to get out the door. As they did, Enmanuel remained behind, painstakingly using a translation app on his phone so he could diligently answer He each questionedtion.” up at me with this distraught look on his face going, ‘Man, this is hard,’” Haney said. “But he doesn’t want anyone’s sympathy.”