Steve Kuminga: A late bloomer, but better late than never

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Steve Kuminga

Everyone in the world is pushing and striving to make a name for themselves, and Steve Kuminga found his method of doing so after high school similar to most people. Yet, for the decision to be basketball, that is seen as a late time to get into the game if the goal is to play at a professional level, and Kuminga has defied all odds with a better late than never mentality and consistent improvement in his game.

 I just wanted to actually be somebody. I wanted to bring more of a legacy for me and my family.

After not playing basketball throughout high school, Steve Kuminga walked on to his local junior college, Ranger Comunity, in Texas. There was plenty for the coaches to be impressed by, mainly Kuminga’s 6’6″ frame with a 6’7″ wingspan and impressive athletic abilities. After two seasons at junior college, his first two years of organized basketball, Kuminga was ready to face a higher level of talent and accepted a scholarship offer from Central Christian College on Kansas.

Throughout his time at Central Christian, Kuminga flashed his scoring ability, particularly shooting out of spot-up situations. Since he was one of the tallest players on his college squad, Steve was often the screener himself and popping out to the three for a potential catch-and-shoot opportunity.

My senior year I kinda took a jump and I ended up getting an offer to go play in Spain.

During his senior season, Kuminga lead his team in minutes and scoring while averaging 14.0 points and 7.0 rebounds on an extremely efficient 59.9 percent from the field and 35.2 percent from three on high volume. Straight out of college, after obtaining his degree to boot, Kuminga went to continue his career on a professional level in Spain. Already entering the professional scene, after being late to the party, is no light task in itself, but Kuminga was in for a different style of play when he arrived to suit up for Matenglish CB San Fernando.

NBA is more isolation ball and Europe is more team ball, so that took some time to really adjust and really understand that I gotta play within the system… So that was one thing I kinda struggled with.

Along with a team-focused environment, Kuminga was given more ball handling duties in Spain. His scoring output continued to trend upward, contributing an average of 21.2 points nightly and 6.3 rebounds to go along with it. While his shooting was undoubtedly impressive before, it was knocking on the door of elite status during his 10 games in Spain during the 2019-20 season. 41.4 percent from deep is something that few players in the NBA, let alone overseas, can add to their resume. That improved accuracy from range was complimented by 48.8 percent from the field — his efficiency on a high amount of attempt was on full display.

It’s not ever how you start. Better late than never.

Kuminga feels that his time in Europe has already and continues to improve and sharpen his basketball IQ and adaptability to a psychical style of play. The 6’6″ frame of Steve Kuminga and substantial wingspan also allows him to make an impact on that end of the ball, regularly jumping in passing lanes at the right time for steals. Kuminga also understands that while his offense is valuable, there are plenty of players around the league who can score and his defense needs to be above par as well to eventually reach the his target of the NBA.

If I’m gonna get to the G-League I gotta make a name for myself…I gotta become a versatile player becoming a defender and be able to lock up full court if I have to.

He mentioned the likes of Avery Bradley defensively while maintaining and offensive presence and studies the some of the leagues-best, primarily Klay Thompson.

I like Klay Thompson a lot, just keeps it simple. I feel like that’s how my game is just coming off screens, catching and shooting, and then playing your part on defense.

While Thompson seems to be a lofty goal at the moment, Kuminga was also quick to not get ahead of himself and genuinely seems to love the process that he is going through. Let’s also not forget just how much progress has been made by Steve in a short time.

Of course, I’m trying to be one of the best. But you gotta start somewhere and always be realistic with yourself. Set goals and then set bigger goals from there.

Steve Kuminga is taking the time to combine his gifted American athleticism and frame with a developing European IQ and with a good head on his shoulders, it’s not difficult to imagine a G-League opportunity being on the table in the near future. Kuminga boasts a valuable skill set as a 3&D wing and using his intelligence in other aspects of life as well – mainly via his clothing company, Secret Storm.

Kuminga is far from satisfied with his improvement and displays an evident hunger to get better everyday. His focus this summer revolves around gaining strength and making crucial strides on the defensive side of the ball in order to bolster his role playing capabilities on higher levels of play.

With a work ethic that was inspired by the late great Kobe Bryant, Steve Kuminga is on his way to making an impact in any and every league he continues to take his talents to.

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