Trib HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Week for Feb. 21, 2022

Monday, February 21, 2022 | 11:38 PM

Lincoln Park sophomore Brandin Cummings has always been close with his older brother Nelly, who starred with the Leopards and graduated in 2017 before playing his college ball at Bowling Green and Colgate.

Both won WPIAL championships as a freshman at Lincoln Park. That was Nelly’s only district title. Brandin hopes to do three better.

“Brandin and Nelly are extremely close and extremely competitive,” Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said. “I think Nelly‘s love for his brother and his toughness on him have made Brandon the kind, caring young man that he is but also an absolute assassin on the basketball court.”

That killer instinct was on display last week for Cummings and the Leopards.

Lincoln Park wrapped up the regular season Monday with a 15-point win at West Allegheny. Cummings led the Leopards with 24 points.

“Brandin is a special player,” Bariski said. “The key is for him and the rest of our guys that we want to play fast, is playing fast. It really shows Brandin and the rest of the guys’ athletic abilities.”

The defending 4A WPIAL champions were given the No. 5 seed in the 2022 playoff tournament and opened up at home in a first-round game Friday against Yough.

Once again, Cummings and his teammates came to play. He scored 24 points again as the Leopards crushed the Cougars, 90-38.

“What stood out the most was he had all his points in the first half,” Bariski said. “When he is focused right from the beginning, he is extremely dangerous offensively and defensively.”

When the horn sounded to end a fifth straight district playoff win, there was very little celebration by Cummings or his teammates.

“They are really excited about the playoffs and the start of a second season, but we are a program that understands that when we get to this point, we 100% have to take care of business,” Bariski said.

Bariski loves the way Cummings takes care of business on the court. He’s always looking to improve his game.

“He works hard during the offseason and during the season,” Bariski said. “He improved his jump shot and the ability to get to the basket from last year.”

Even though Cummings is only a sophomore, his days of hanging out in the gym with his older brother’s teams has led to a maturity usually not displayed by most 10th graders.

“His competitiveness is his strength,” Bariski said. “His basketball IQ (is high) and his leadership, he is 100% a leader right now, so he’ll be ready to go next year as a team leader.”

Up next for the Leopards is a familiar postseason foe.

Lincoln Park will battle North Catholic in a quarterfinal Wednesday. This marks the fourth straight year the Leopards and Trojans will collide with the previous three being in the WPIAL title game.

North Catholic is really good team. I think both of us aren’t happy with a four and five seed,” Bariski said. “It will probably fuel both teams. They like to play fast; we like to play fast. They like to shoot it; we like to shoot it. So we’ll see what happens Wednesday night.”

2022 Trib HSSN Players of the Week

Week 6 – Cadin Olsen, Armstrong

Week 5 – Markus Frank, Quaker Valley

Week 4 – Notorious Grooms, Uniontown

Week 3 – Tanner O’Grady, Upper St. Clair

Week 2 – Ben Mayhew, Propel Braddock Hills

Week 1 – Makhai Valentine, Steel Valley


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