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Boys basketball: Cunningham making presence felt for Black Eagles

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Over the last couple seasons, several outstanding athletes have come through the ranks at South Charleston.

Pierria Henry finished fourth in the state for Player of the Year in basketball at South Charleston two years ago and is now playing collegiately at Division I Charlotte, where he has started every game and is third in the Atlantic 10 in steals.

Aaron Dobson graduated from South Charleston four years ago before playing football at Marshall.

This weekend, he's playing in the Senior Bowl along with some of the best players in the nation, and has hopes being drafted by a National Football League team in April.

Another Black Eagles athlete is hoping to one day take the next step like Henry and Dobson. A.D. Cunningham is a two-sport standout for the Black Eagles and he made his basketball presence felt on Thursday night, helping guide No. 1 ranked South Charleston to a 72-51 home win over St. Albans (4-9).

Cunningham, the leading scorer for the Black Eagles (13-1) at 16.1 points per game, had 20 points, 14 rebounds and four steals on Thursday.

"I think when it is all said and done, A.D. will rank right up there with any of them that has played here," SC Coach Vic Herbert said. "There's been a bunch of them, too, like Pierria Henry and Aaron Dobson, and down through the list.

"He may be recruited in both Division I football or basketball if he wanted to. I think he's got a shot. He has a lot of work to do but it's there in front of him if he wants to work hard enough. He has great potential."

The 15-year old Cunningham, who is a linebacker and tailback on the football team, is just happy to be mentioned in the same sentence such as Henry and Dobson.

"I feel very honored," he said. "It's very great to play here at South Charleston. I really don't like to brag on myself. I'm a team player and just want my team to win. I don't care if I score a point."

Cunningham indicated football is his favorite sport, but he's enjoying both for the Black Eagles, and wants to reach the next level after graduation in two years.

"I like football a little better, but whatever is in season, I'm all about," Cunningham said. "I'm having fun here (at SC). I have to thank God for giving me this talent. Whatever they give me a scholarship in, I'll take it."

The scary part for South Charleston opponents is that as good as Cunningham is now, he's just a sophomore.

"There is nothing but upside with A.D.," Herbert said. "He's just scratching the surface. To be just a sophomore and be that dominant when he wants to, it's very impressive."

Even though he is just a sophomore, Herbert believes Cunningham, a 5-foot-11 forward, is already one of the best players in the state and has all the tools to make it to the next level.

"He's got a chance to be a first team All-Stater as a sophomore as long as he keeps playing like he is," Herbert said. "He's at a program that gets a lot of recognition. There's eight on that first-team list, and I know there's not five guys better than him in this state.

"He's tenacious on the glass, is a great defender when he wants to be and is as good as anyone around the bucket. He kills the glass, is so strong and very quick and athletic."

St. Albans Coach Marshall Kiser, whose Red Dragons actually led SC at halftime, was very impressed with Cunningham.

"Athletes like him (Cunningham) that are that strong and powerful and jump real well, they just go up and take the ball," Kiser said. "South Charleston is so talented and athletic that teams have to play so close to perfect to be able to compete in the end. They have a great program."


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