Upon signing to play in the NBA G League next season, Jonathan Kuminga joined the ranks of fellow top prospects Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd, Daishen Nix and Kai Sotto. All five youngsters will use next season as a developmental platform, tapping in to the minor league’s at-their-disposal tools to better themselves. The hope is for each one to hear their name called during the 2021 NBA Draft. Like Kuminga, Green, Todd and Nix all stood tall as Consensus Five-Star Recruits.
There are similarities to the bunch. They’ve all accomplished certain things at a young age and will be able to bond over their future hopes and dreams. But, what makes Kuminga especially unique is that his story is one of sacrifice, immense perseverance, and continued determination (even more so now, following this most recent step in his journey).
Kuminga left his home in Congo five years ago. Still just 17 years old now, that means Kuminga was not yet a teenager when he left a comfortable setting, gambling on his potential and setting his sights on the most promising of dreams. A boy left his parents — said goodbye to friends and family — and his departure most certainly fast tracked his journey to becoming a man. This required budding maturity and steady faith. Kuminga was put in a position where he needed to become independent and accomplish things on his own that most kids his age wouldn’t even fathom. He worked hard to better his English speaking skills so that he could communicate and relate on an even playing field.
Ironically enough, when push came to shove, Kuminga was also able to let his play do the talking on the court, and it was with the most confidence that he was a cut above the rest. On the court, it was the goal of his competitors to reach an even playing field with him. Due to his special talent, it proved most difficult to get on Kuminga’s level.
Originally the No.1 ranked prospect of the 2021 NBA Draft class by ESPN, the athletic specimen is now slotted No.4 after reclassifying for 2020. As a member of the NY Rens last season, Kuminga averaged 22.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 19 games. While he was undoubtedly turning heads all season long, his high point came in May 2019 when he erupted for 43 points against Team Texas Titans.
These are certainly impressive early feats for a player with sights set on an NBA future. No stranger to acclimating himself to new environments and committing to a cause, Kuminga put it quite simply upon joining the NBA G League ranks. “That’s my new family,” he said while speaking with The Athletic. “I’m going to focus on the G League first and focus on my potential and work on my skills.”
Kuminga has come to America to capitalize on his talents and carve out a better life — not just for him, but for his family too. Still, thoughts of his upbringing will never be too far from his mind. As he takes advantage of the opportunities set before him, this young talent has a special chance to lay down the building blocks for other up and coming prospects from Africa who hope to do the same in the years to come. Should he be able to serve as a promising role model, the hopes and dreams of others like him could come that much more clearly into focus.