Skip to content

Josh Cunningham shows out with Jahlil Okafor nursing an ankle

Apr 28, 2013, 1:47 AM EST

IHSA Class 3A Boys Basketball

HAMPTON, Va. — Whenever the Mac Irvin Fire takes the court during the Nike EYBL, the cream of the college coaching crop will be circling the court.

That’s what happens when two of the top five recruits in the Class of 2014 — No. 1 Jahlil Okafor and No. 5 Cliff Alexander — are on their roster. On Saturday, Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari, Tom Crean, Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo, along with coaches from dozens of other high-major programs, were among the faces in the crowd.

But with Okafor battling a high-ankle sprain that has kept him off the floor for both of the April live period weekends, that has left room for other players on the roster to step up with the best of the best watching, and Josh Cunningham took full advantage.

A 6-fo0t-7 small forward with explosive athleticism and three-point range, Cunningham has averaged 17.0 points and 4.0 boards through three games, but he saved his best performance for last. On Saturday night, he went toe-to-toe with five-star recruit Theo Pinson, scoring 12 of the Fire’s first 18 points and finishing with 26 on 11-15 shooting, hitting 3-6 from three and adding seven boards.

Cunningham is a Chicago native and a product of Morgan Park (HS). He currently holds offers from Oklahoma, DePaul, Nebraska and Bradley, but with more performances like this, some of the big boys will come calling. He’s already heard from Michigan State in recent days.

“I like the way they play,” said the No. 100 recruit, according to Rivals, “because I play hard.”

The fact that he does play hard is one of the reasons that Cunningham is enticing as a prospect. He puts in the effort on the defensive end of the floor, he has the size and the athleticism to be a major factor at the highest level in college, and he already has a three-point stroke; he’s 5-10 from deep on the weekend. He’s got the physical tools that scouts and recruiters love to see, but the right mindset and on-court attitude is just as important. “I want to win bad,” Cunningham said. “[My coach] always tells me to play hard because I could be something special.”

You can’t teach effort. You can’t make a player care. You can, however, develop an all-around game, and that’s the next step for Cunningham.

“I hope to improve on my dribbling, to handle the ball and help my teammates get the ball [up the floor],” he said.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Alex Murphy to play, Eli Carter out vs. Wake Forest

    Dec 20, 2014, 11:49 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    This will be the first time that Murphy plays this season.

  2. More ridiculous plays from 2016 acrobat Kwe Parker at City of Palms (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 10:00 AM EST

    (Nike) (Nike)

    Kwe Parker might only be a junior in high school, but he’s one of the best leapers in the country.

  3. Pregame Shootaround: A tremendous day of hoops filled with intriguing top-25 battles

    Dec 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

    TaShawn Thomas AP

    If you don’t feel like watching lower-tier bowl games, you’ll be happy to know that Saturday is loaded with great games.

  4. Eastern Kentucky’s 3-point shooting leads to blowout win over No. 18 Miami

    Dec 19, 2014, 10:13 PM EST

    AP AP

    Eastern Kentucky had 14 threes. Miami had 12 field goals.

  5. adidas puts wrong logo on Duje Dukan’s Wisconsin warmups (PHOTO)

    Dec 19, 2014, 8:59 PM EST

    Duje Dukan AP

    The senior forward is apparently playing for the Wisconsin Bearcats.

  6. New Year’s Resolutions: Villanova Wildcats

    Dec 19, 2014, 7:30 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Villanova is off to another good start in the regular season, but heading into the New Year, the Wildcats will need to rack up the wins in postseason play.

  7. Markus Kennedy cleared to play immediately for SMU

    Dec 19, 2014, 6:49 PM EST

    AP AP

    The SMU forward missed the first 10 games.

  8. Two players questionable for Florida’s game against Wake Forest

    Dec 19, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    AP AP

    The Gators could be shorthanded once again in Saturday’s non-conference contest with Wake Forest.

  9. Injured Indiana forward to return to school this spring

    Dec 19, 2014, 5:00 PM EST

    Landon Atterberry Devin Davis AP

    The Indiana sophomore was struck by a vehicle driven by a teammate back in November.

  10. FGCU announces addition of former VCU power forward

    Dec 19, 2014, 4:15 PM EST

    VCU v George Washington Getty Images

    Antravious Simmons averaged 0.7 points and 0.7 rebounds as a redshirt freshman at VCU.

  11. Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: No. 3 Arizona among three ranked teams in action

    Dec 19, 2014, 3:27 PM EST

    Stanley Johnson AP

    The Wildcats are on the road to take on one of Conference USA’s best teams in UTEP, and both No. 18 Miami and No. 20 St. John’s are in action as well.

  12. Injured senior guard leaves St. Bonaventure program

    Dec 19, 2014, 2:44 PM EST

    La Salle Explorers v St. Bonaventure Bonnies Getty Images

    Jordan Gathers had yet to play in a game this season after undergoing hip surgery in June.

  13. One suitor for Duke transfer hopes to land him despite not having an available scholarship

    Dec 19, 2014, 1:26 PM EST

    Livingstone v Duke Getty Images

    Kansas State is one of many programs looking to land Semi Ojeleye, but all of their scholarships are accounted for currently.

  14. POSTERIZED: UNLV commit Derrick Jones throws one down with force (VIDEO)

    Dec 19, 2014, 12:04 PM EST

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Jones’ dunk on five-star forward Cody Riley is one of the best you’ll see this year.

  15. New Year’s Resolutions: Duke Blue Devils

    Dec 19, 2014, 11:30 AM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    When you talk Duke basketball in 2014-15, you start with Player of the Year candidate Jahlil Okafor, but there are plenty of other keys to Duke’s success as we get closer to the new year.

  16. Weekend Preview: A loaded Saturday slate highlights the weekend

    Dec 19, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

    Dakarai Allen, Nigel Williams-Goss AP

    Oklahoma-Washington, Ohio State-North Carolina and UCLA-Kentucky are just three of the marquee matchups.