Everything changed when Chris Collins took the helm, perhaps aside from the team's intense recruitment of Cunningham.
The 3-star small forward from Morgan Park HS (Ill.) finally received his NU offer this past week. He was elated, but more importantly, it showed dedication on the part of this coaching staff.
"It meant a lot that they studied my game before offering me," Cunningham said on Saturday. "It means they know what's good for me."
This evaluation, though, was significant for the team's future. Chris Collins needs him to excel at the 3-spot—sharing the view of other interested coaches. For Cunningham, it will require some changes to his game.
"In high school, I mostly play the 4 and 5, but I'm trying to adjust," he said. "It's what I'm trying to get myself ready for now. When I go to college, I'll be ready."
This weekend, Cunningham watched his stock continue to rise. He had one of the best dunks of the tournament. And on his loaded Mac Irvin Fire (AAU) team, he played his role particularly well.
In an 83-59 win against CIA Bounce, Cunningham filled the stat sheet with eight rebounds, five assists and four steals. Earlier that day, the team pulled off an impressive win over All Ohio Red after Jahlil Okafor–one of the top 2014 players in the country–suffered an injury.
"When Jahlil went down, we needed to step up," Cunningham said. "He wanted us to win that one."
Cunningham recently talked to PurpleWildcats about the importance of getting to know Collins, who he said would be a "great coach."
Though he's shooting just 25 percent from the perimeter in 15 EYBL games this season, Cunningham is slowly developing an outside game. With 5-star center Cliff Alexander manning the low block, defenses converge on the interior. That leaves Cunningham open for scoring opportunities.
"Everyone covers them," Cunningham said, "so they kick the ball out to me and I have the shot."
It's part of his quickly adapting game. After some breakout performances–and memorable feats of athleticism–Cunningham earned his NU offer.
He's hearing from several schools, most notably Iowa State. Still, that homegrown appeal will keep NU in the mix.
Cunningham is among the top 2014 priorities for NU—something that can't be taken lightly as the Chris Collins era begins.