For the next installment of the Q&A series, Pro Insight presents Jonathan Kuminga, a five-star player in the 2021 class, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Pro Insight: Your ranking has really improved the past year – how has that affected you?
Jonathan Kuminga: You know, it’s been a good change because since last year I’ve been in the gym every single day working out and now my name is going out all over, but when I get on the court, I’ve got to prove it – that I’m that man.
PI: For those that don’t know, can you talk a little bit about your background?
JK: Yeah, I got three siblings, I’ve got a good family. My family is from the Congo. I think all of them play sports. My siblings, they’re still young, but they hoop, too. My parents used to play basketball. My dad had a chance to play pro, but he fell in love –he found my mom. He was supposed to come to the U.S. to play basketball, like pro and stuff, but as soon as he fell in love with my mom he said ‘that’s it.’ Now me and my brother are carrying on the dream, I think.
PI: You played soccer growing up, right?
JK: Yeah, you know back in Africa that’s like the first sport a kid be learning and it wasn’t the first for me, because I started playing soccer at same time as basketball. I used to play soccer and basketball a lot, but I think I got to a point where I was more interested in playing basketball more than soccer.
PI: What are your main goals you want to accomplish before your high school career is over?
JK: You know my goal next year going into my junior season is to go to Geico…having my team be the number-one team in the country and stuff; just to lead my team, really lead my team to the Geico tournament and win the tournament.
PI: Who are some teammates or players in general you have faced this year that have impressed you or been tough to play against?
JK: Jaden Hardy is one. I’ve played with some top players in my class and Jaden Hardy is one of them, I played with Josh Christopher and he was really good, too.
PI: You have some time to figure it out, but down the line as you prepare to make your college decision, what are some of the top things you’re looking for in a school?
JK: I want a college education first, and second, I want people who are going to really work me out and prepare me for another level on the court.
PI: Describe your personality on and off the court.
JK: I think I have a good personality: I’m a good teammate. I think I do positive stuff, so I’m good on everything and stuff – if you hear someone tell you that he don’t like me, then he don’t like me for no reason so I think I’m cool with everybody. When I get on the court I share the ball, I’m not selfish and stuff.
PI: College or pro, current or former player – do you model your game after anyone?
JK: KD, Giannis, and PG.
PI: Which position do you view yourself as?
JK: If I really look at it, I don’t really have a position…like wherever you put me or wherever I get the ball I’m just going to work and I’m just going to do it.
PI: Please explain what Jonathan Kuminga brings to a team, regardless of the situation – name some things on the court and some things off the court.
JK: I think I bring positive energy, like making all my people just smile and stuff, even if you see me on the bench I don’t want to be quiet…but just making all my people laugh and stuff, keeping things light and fun.
PI: What has been a defining moment or story in your life? Why has that stuck with you and what did you learn from it?
JK: For me, I grew up in a good family and stuff, and my parents have been through a lot, and they know a lot about what’s going on in the world, so they just keep telling me to stay humble…like, just be happy all the time when you play…be cool, smile and all that. They never told me very much negative or bad stuff, like I don’t really have it bad…like if you come from Africa it’s not bad it’s just different, but that motivates me to play hard and stuff.
PI: What was the adjustment like coming from Africa to playing high school basketball in New York?
JK: I’ve been in New York for like a year now, but I’ve been in the US for like 4 years now, so yeah I’m kind of used to everything by now.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
JK: First, I would give the best advice to kids that come from Africa and just some other countries and some kids from here: they cannot give you nothing for free – like you’ve got to work for it to have it, you can’t just come from all over and say ‘I want it.’ You got to work for it to get wherever you want to be. That’s what I did and then that’s where I’m at right now. That’s not really advice I’ve received, but that’s advice I’d want to give.
PI: What, or who, would you say is your biggest motivation in life?
JK: I think my mom…I want to make her proud. I just want to make my whole family proud, so that’s my motivation.
PI: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
JK: I would love to be in the league (NBA) 10 years from now and not be like a role player, but be a star. But to get to that mission, I know I’m not going to just wake up one day and be that dude. I know I just have to keep putting in work and stuff that’s going to make me get to where I want to be.
PI: What are some things you’re working on in the off-season to get to that point?
JK: So in the off-season I’m working on my body, like even if you see me compared to last year I just got a little bit bigger and taller and stuff. I keep working on my handle and my shooting skills. I was just kind of off this weekend (at Pangos AA Camp), but I think I really shoot the ball better now than in the past.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
JK: I want to be in the Hall of Fame.