Cali Guard Has Early Favorites

Jared Cunningham is a 6-2 sophomore combo guard from San Leandro (Calif.) High who has really made advancements in the last year, and might be among the best perimeter players in the west for 2009. He talked to us about an early list of favorite colleges...

Jared Cunningham, the 6-2 sophomore combo guard from San Leandro (Calif.) High, provided us a first in our experience as high school basketball talent scouts.

He actually said he was shorter than he was.

When we asked him how tall he was, he said 6-1. But when we stood him up against others that we know are 6-1, he clearly was taller by about an inch. So, we told him he now can tell everyone he's 6-2.

It's just another indication of what a nice, unassuming kid Cunningham is.

It's probably also an indication that Cunningham has developed physically so much in the last year that he can't keep track of it. While Cunningham still looks very young (he just turned 16 years old), he has dramatically changed. "Yeah, I was about 6-0 a year ago and skinnier," Cunnigham said. "I'm still growing, and I'm also working out in the weight room every day, so I've gotten stronger."

If you had seen him a year ago, and watched him play this spring, one of the differences you'd notice is the improvement in his explosiveness, speed and hops. "A lot of it is just growing up I think," Cunningham said. "But I'm working with a trainer, and he's really helped with my explosiveness."

Some west coast college basketball coaches have been playing close attention, particularly the new head coach at Santa Clara, Kerry Keating. "When Coach Keating was at UCLA, I heard from them a lot. But now, because of him, Santa Clara's really on me."

Does he have a favorite? "It's still UCLA," Cunningham said. "I grew up watching UCLA and I really like that school. I went to their camp last year."

Cunningham also says that Gonzaga has contacted him. "They're the other one that's written me hand-written letters," Cunningham said.

The skilled young guard also named Connecticut and Oregon as two schools he likes.

When asked about the most important factors in making a decision about where he'd want to go to college, Cunningham said, "Academics, location, climate and the basketball program," but not necessarily in that order. "The location means something because I'd like it to be in a nice place, but also because I'm close to my parents and I'd like to stay some place near them."

Cunningham said he has a 2.9 GPA, did well on the PSAT and intends on taking the SAT soon.

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