Shaka Smart’s 2018 class added its first piece on Friday in the form of local Austin Westlake product Brock Cunningham.
A four-star small forward, Cunningham averaged earned District MVP honors as a junior after averaging 14.7 points and 11.3 points per game. He’s since found considerable success on the AAU circuit, averaging 22.1 points and 10.4 rebounds throughout the Adidas Gauntlet this spring and summer.
For some insight on what the ‘Horns first 2018 pledge brings to the table, Burnt Orange Nation caught up with Zach Mason, the publisher of Texas Top 100 and the Communications Director for Cunningham’s Urban ASAK Elite AAU team.
Brock is a uniquely talented basketball player. He can do just about anything you ask of him with relative ease. His basketball IQ is unparalleled in his class. Every time he gets the ball, he's looking to score or find someone who will score. I have never seen him make a meaningless pass or dribble just to dribble. Everything has a purpose. It's fascinating to watch.
When he gets a rebound on the defensive side of the ball, he immediately looks up for an outlet down the court, and I've seen him get countless assists from Hail Mary-type passes. He sees the floor so well, and I can only imagine how many more assists he'll get when he's surrounded with Big 12 talent at Texas.
Cunningham is a lethal outside threat, and when he settles into the corner for a three, it's automatic. This kid can knock down that shot with his eyes closed 99 times out of 100. Texas will definitely make sure to get him the ball when he's out on the break, because if he has even an inch of space, that shot is going down. He has a really high release point, too, so it's tough to disrupt or block his shot.
Another respectable quality is his intensity. He is an extremely passionate player and it shows on the court. He hates losing with a searing passion. He hates when he misses a shot. He hates when he turns the ball over. I think he'll have to slightly tone down that fire just a bit to avoid racking up technical fouls, but I don't think that'll be a problem at the next level. In fact, coaches would much rather have a guy play with that kind of intensity as opposed to someone who goes out and plays lethargic, unmotivated basketball.
Cunningham is a guy that will play at Texas for four years, in all likelihood. He makes his teammates around him better. He's just a winner. He may not be a lottery pick kind of player, but I think he has potential to help Texas make a run deep into the NCAA tournament every year he's enrolled at the university.
Personality-wise, he's an otherwise reserved kid. He's all business. I've seen him score 13 straight points and not smile. In fact, I've never seen him celebrate. I've only seen him get mad, and that's only when he makes a (rare) mistake. He's not a class-clown kind of guy. He's serious, confident and focused. I think his teammates will respect that and the UT coaching staff will love him for it.
This was certainly a nice pickup for Shaka Smart. Cunningham will make an immediate impact when he gets to campus and for the next four years.