Alabama commit Naas Cunningham shines in return home to New Jersey | 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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Saturday / February 24.
  • Alabama commit Naas Cunningham shines in return home to New Jersey

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    By DORIAN ALERTE

    SOMERSET, N.J. — Naas Cunningham’s homecoming was everything he could have expected and
    more.

    In front of a nearly sold-out crowd at Franklin High School on Saturday night, the 6-foot-7 Cunningham, a West Orange, N.J. native and Alabama commit, lit up the Metro Classic, shooting 6-for-11 from 3, scoring 26 points in total in Southern California’s 77-69 victory over Phelps (PA).

    “It was very good to see him do that at home in front of his friends and family,” Erik
    Cunningham
    , his father, said. “He was looking forward to this trip and he came through and
    executed.”

    So Cal led from start to finish, leading 40-28 at the half. A third-quarter surge from Phelps,
    brought the game to within 4 points with 5:37 left in the third quarter, but every time Phelps
    would pull closer, Cunningham stayed calm and So Cal had an answer.

    “I wouldn’t say pressure,” Cunningham said. “But I knew I was coming home, in front of my
    family I friends, I had to put on a show and I was able to do that tonight.

    The Alabama commit tied for the team lead in points with Larry Johnson, who scored 26 points.
    Cunningham also added 5 rebounds to his total. Dominick Stewart finished second on the team
    with 17 points. For Phelps, Onyx Nyani, and Will Riley combined for 43 points.

    So Cal won their one and only game of the Metro Classic and Cunningham knew that he wanted
    to put on a game for his home state.

    “It felt good to be back home, see all my people,” Cunningham said. “Playing with my new
    teammates, my new team and show everyone what we’ve been working on. Yeah, it just felt
    great.”

    Cunningham will lace up for the Alabama Crimson Tide next year and is excited to get to work
    with them.

    “They was able to lay out a plan and show me what they could do for me in the future and how I
    could help them,” he said. “I feel like I really fit their play style. I know they like to get up and
    down, shoot a lot of threes, that’s how they like to play, play fast. And they were real welcoming
    on the visit, great coaching staff and everything just worked out perfectly.”

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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.

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