By Libaan Osman
Ammanuel Diressa, who has taken Ryerson basketball to new heights in his last three years, is saying goodbye to Ryerson.
Diressa rocked the blue and gold for the last time on March 11, where his team fell short in a heartbreaker against the Calgary Dinos in the U Sports National Championship.
But a week before that unfortunate finish, Diressa reflected on his time as a Ryerson Ram and how he’s evolved as a player and as a person. Largely known for being a quiet, introverted player, the star guard eventually learned how to adapt and lead by example while his ridiculous work ethic rubbed off on his teammates.
“I always want to improve as person,” Diressa said. “In terms of character, getting out of my comfort zone, challenging myself to doing things I’m uncomfortable with.”
Before he would drop 50 points in a regular season game, collect several Player of the Week awards and earn a first-team All-Canadian selection, the fifth-year guard never imagined he would be a Ram. Vividly recalling the first time he met Rams head coach Roy Rana during his eighth grade at an Eastern Commerce tournament, it wasn’t until his high school career when Diressa would learn more about his bench boss. “He recruited me out of high school,” he said. “I had no interest in going to Ryerson at that time.”
Rather than stay at home, Manny had other plans, wanting to accomplish a childhood dream of his: playing for a division one school. After receiving an offer from Tennessee Tech, Diressa’s dream would eventually come true. He headed to Tennessee Tech in 2012, but would only get to play a total of 356 minutes throughout his two years there. He wanted more of an opportunity to showcase his talent, but knew the chances of him getting another division one offer were slim. Struggling with back problems in the summer after his second year, Manny didn’t want to risk going to a division two school without being 100 per cent healthy and decided to take a year off. “At that point, I didn’t know really how my basketball career was gonna go. I was fine if I didn’t really play basketball anymore. I just stayed in shape.” Rana would get in contact with Manny once again and it didn’t take much to convince him that Ryerson was the place he needed to be. “I was fine staying at home at that point. Some of my friends already played on the team, Rana’s a good coach and it was convenient.”
As he improved at Ryerson, Diressa eventually had the chance to learn from some of the best minds in Canadian basketball, earning a spot on Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team at the FIBA AmeriCup in 2017.
After seeing his former teammates Adika Peter-Mcneilly and Aaron Best earn jobs after their stint at Ryerson, the dynamic guard feels like he has a chance to do the same. Peter-Mcneilly currently plays professional basketball in Europe, while Best is one tier under the NBA, playing for the NBA G-League’s Raptors 905.
“Those guys all got jobs right away. If I could have the same thing, I’ll be happy,” he said.
Diressa was recently named to Canada’s men’s team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia alongside Rams teammate Jean-Victor Mukama. After all that he’s been able to achieve, he continues to stay grateful for those who have helped pave the way for his success. “So many coaches and people (have) helped me get to where I am today. I wouldn’t want to name one because I feel like I’d be missing out a lot of great people that have helped me out.”
Reflecting on his three years, Diressa mentioned that he will miss the friendships he’s created with the guys on the roster. “Obviously (Jean Viktor) is a character who I’m close with. He’s very outgoing, he asks questions, always checking on me. Roshane, Adam, my fellow seniors will be gone, my roomate right now (Zubair Seyed), just everyone.” Even though he didn’t win a championship, Diressa will never forget his time at Ryerson.