Jonathan Kuminga returns from ankle injury, discusses Kobe's impact on his life | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Thursday / December 9.
  • Jonathan Kuminga returns from ankle injury, discusses Kobe’s impact on his life

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    By JAMES CORRIGAN

    NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Jonathan Kuminga, the nation’s top ranked player in the Class of 2021, returned to the court for The Patrick School on Wednesday night, and did not appear to have lost a step.

    The 6-foot-8 Kuminga, who sprained his ankle on Jan. 3rd in a nationally televised game against Sierra Canyon (CA) and had not appeared since, poured in 12 points on 5-5 shooting in limited minutes, as his Celtics defeated New Brunswick 80-62 in what was an impromptu game scheduled just the day before, leading up to the Metro Classic this weekend in Toms River.

    “It felt great to be out there,” Kuminga said afterwards. “Ive been doing my therapy. I was ready today and I told my coach that I was ready so he just let me out here to catch up with my teammates.”

    Kuminga’s head coach, Chris Chavannes, was bullish on his star’s performance, calling it “fabulous.”

    “His lateral and vertical movement was tremendous, and his timing was pretty good,” he said. “This game was not Roselle Catholic, it’s not one of our rival teams, not one of the nationally ranked teams, but you don’t look at it from that perspective. You just look at his mobility and his timing and his vision, all his skill set, and you saw it out there. In practice he’s been tremendous also.”

    Before Kuminga was injured, both Kentucky coach John Calipari and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski watched him play this season. Kuminga is a projected top-10 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and is working towards having the option this summer to reclassify into 2020.

    The Patrick School, the No. 2 team in New Jersey, has experienced a litany of injuries this season, as well as having to wait for several transfers, such as top 50 junior forward Adama Sanogo, who scored 16 points in Wednesday’s game, to become eligible.

    Without Sanogo, but with Kuminga, the Celtics beat Roselle Catholic on Dec. 23 at the Kyrie Irving Invitational. On Saturday they beat the Lions again at Roselle Catholic without Kuminga and with Sanogo going for 23 points and 17 rebounds

    This game was the most complete lineup the Celtics have put together all year.

    “Pretty much everyone on the team is excited that finally we’re all back together,” Kuminga remarked. “Since we all came to this school we never played together as a team on the same court, so we’re all very happy to be back.”

    On his shoes, Kuminga paid tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, writing their names along with the numbers 8 and 24. The team met Bryant at Barclays Center on Dec. 21 ahead of the Kyrie Invitational, and for Kuminga, he was meeting more than just a basketball player.

    “Me as a kid, I watched his games, and I really enjoyed watching him,” Kuminga said. “He was like my favorite player, and I keep watching him even if he’s not here. Anytime I’m free and I have nothing to do, I just watch his highlights. I was supposed to be working out with him this summer, but it is what it is. “

    When asked what lessons he took from watching Bryant, Kuminga said, “I took a lot. Being a leader. How to speak to people. Not just about basketball, but about life.”

    The Patrick School has plenty to look forward to coming up, with games against national power Huntington Prep (WV) and local power Wildwood Catholic this weekend at the Metro Classic in Toms River, but Kuminga, finally back healthy after a month on the shelf, is ready to take on all comers.

    “Everybody is gonna hate us because we’re all coming for everybody, so we just have to be ready,” he said.

    New Brunswick’s Ayhan Brown-Miller led all scorers in the game with 32 points on eight made 3’s, and scored his 1,500th career point in the process.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.