Big East: Dante Cunningham Carrying Undefeated 'Nova Wildcats
After failing to register 10 points in a game during his freshman season—a total of 629 minutes = 10.4 hours, or the equivalency of “I Love Lucy” seasons seven and eight
(including eight games in which he did not score)—the noodle-linearized small forward is off to a feverish pace.
In the second game of this season while logging only 29 minutes, Dante dropped 31 points and snatched 11 rebounds and also had a steal and a blocked shot against Fordham for his sixth double-double of career.
Five of those double-doubles came last season, in which he was the only player on 'Nova to start every game (30) and he also led them in rebounding (6.5).
In this being his final season, Cunningham has increased his points per game average, rebounding, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio average, and field goal and free throw percentage.
In Tuesday evening's win over Monumouth, Dante led the team in minutes (30) and in scoring (19) and marked the first time in his collegiate career that he has scored double figures in four consecutive games. Currently, the 6-foot-8 combo forward leads Nova' in points, rebounding (offensive), and field goal attempts per game.
Dante has immaculate ball-handling for a specimen of his stature and routinely uses pump-fakes and quickness to get past defenders. When options one and two fail, Cunningham puts the ball on the floor and unleashes unpropitious cross-overs or a effortless behind-the-back dribble to stymy his man and graze to the basket.
Because of his promiscuous ball-handling, Cunningham has an can play all positions, even advancing the ball up the court when fellow in sensational Wildcats' teammates Scottie Reynolds and JJ Stokes (both playmaking guards) waiting in the front-court. With his savvy dribbling skills, at times he draws slight comparisons to NBA player Stephen Jackson who runs the point for the Golden State Warriors on a nightly basis.
In comparison to fellow Big East small forward elite Sam Young (Pittsburgh), Cunningham has a better assist-to-turnover ratio, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage, then last season's conference Most Improved Player of the Year.
Now let's compare him to Villanova Alum Tim Thomas (Currently with the New York Knicks, ). Cunningham has a superior points per game and rebounds per game average, and a higher field goal percentage than the 1997 one-and-done elect this season.
On a side note, his sister is WNBA basketball player Davalyn Cunningham who played for the Connecticut Sun in 2002, displaying signs of an athletic gene in his family.
My assessment of Dante Cunningham is an improved Anthony Randolph—possessing a better shot, stronger frame, and a higher vertical release. However, Cunningham at times can be suspicious with his decision making and needs to focus on game situations to correct the flaw.
Overall, Cunningham is an outstanding basketball player and should be rewarded for his hard work come June.
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