A former "2014 4-Star," Josh Cunningham was listed as a "6' 5," 180-pound small forward. After one year of college, he has developed into a "6' 7," 215-pound beast. Cunningham would be a welcome front-line presence for Illinois. He can play small forward or power forward. And many of the recruiting experts seem to think he is favoring the Fighting Illini over Dayton. We will soon find out.
Bradley transfer Josh Cunningham will not take any more visits and will likely select either Illinois or Dayton, source told @CBSSports.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 3, 2015
Cunningham came out of high school as the No. 108 ranked prospect in the 2014 247Sports Composite. He attended Morgan Park in Chicago, Illinois, where he guided the Mustangs to two straight Illinois 3A state championships. He also played AAU ball for Mac Irvin Fire.
After a long recruitment, including 13 offers and six visits, Cunningham committed to Bradley April 29, 2014. He started 32-of-33 games his freshman season for the Braves (9-24) and averaged 7.9 points and 7.5 rebounds. He scored a career high 17 points against Illinois State and grabbed a career high 21 rebounds against Missouri State. He won't be eligible to play until 2016 per NCAA guidelines.
Check out the video from his senior year. The 20-year-old has grown, physically and James Harden-like facially.
Josh is an athletic combo forward who is a good shooter and loves to work the baseline. Very active and runs the floor well. He has an explosive first step to get to the rack for the dunk. His explosiveness also allows him to create separation for the pull-up.
Cunningham isn't the type of player to go out and score 30 points. He lets the game come to him. He kind of has that point guard mentality. He doesn't force shots or make silly mistakes. He will pick his spots when the need arises, very clutch, especially around the rim.
Another observation is his shot-blocking ability. Cunningham has great timing and he doesn't try to swat it into the bleachers, instead, he tries to gain possession. He is unselfish and a true team player. His work ethic is second to none as evident by his added weight and strength, and the development at Bradley of a mid-range shot.
Improved shooting is a constant for every player and Cunningham really needs to work on foul shooting. Last season he shot 57 percent from the line. As he keeps getting bigger and stronger, he will get fouled more often. Not good, especially when opponents recognize his weakness and start the "Hack-a-Shaq."
Cunningham needs to stay away from the 3-point line and concentrate on a mid-range repertoire. He shot 23 percent from beyond the arc. He needs to stay closer to the basket where he shot 51.6 percent. Once the kid gains more confidence in his shooting, the better all-around player he will become.
Impact on 2016-2017 Illinois Team
The Class of 2015 has been the best recruitment for John Groce at Illinois. The addition of Jalen Coleman, DJ Williams, and Aaron Jordan should keep Groce off the "hot seat." Add to the mix next season Darius Paul and hopeful transfer Josh Cunningham, the Illini should be competitive for years to come.
Cunningham's talents would bring added depth and college experience to the forward positions alongside Paul and Williams. When Paul is in the game, Josh could play small forward and when Williams is in the game, he could play power forward. Groce has plenty of options with the three studs.
Aside from "6' 10" Maverick Morgan, Illinois is loaded with long and rangy players who can run the floor and keep the tempo at a frenetic pace. This looks to be a team that will be difficult to keep off the offensive glass. Not to mention, a fun team to watch.
Illinois only averaged 34 rebounds a game last season. The addition of Cunningham's relentless work on the boards would not only improve their stat, but also help trigger the fast break. He's not a dominant rebounder, but he has that sneaky knack of being in the right place at the right time.
If Illinois can land a true point guard like Xavier Simpson next year, look out Big Ten. Hello World.