Trib HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Week for March 22, 2021: Lincoln Park’s Brandin Cummings

Monday, March 22, 2021 | 11:25 PM

Nelly Cummings had a great career at Lincoln Park. The 2017 graduate averaged 22 points and 6 assists per game for his career, averaging 30 points per game his senior year. He was named all-state three times. He just ended his junior season at Colgate in the NCAA tournament.

Those are very big shoes to fill.

Consider that a challenge to his freshman brother, Brandin Cummings.

“I think following in Nellie’s footsteps may be a small part of it, but I think it is his legacy and his own game that really motivates him,” Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said. “He just wants to win. That’s the big thing.”

Stepping in to the Leopards’ program as a freshman this year was easy for both the player and the coach since they knew what to expect.

“Brandin has been around the program since he was small,” Bariski said. “We watched him play almost every game in seventh and eighth grade when he played for Midland middle school, which plays in the same gym. Those teams run the same offenses and defenses that we use and practice right before us, so I got to see him play almost every day.”

Bariski liked what he saw, especially last week starting with the WPIAL Class 4A boys basketball championship game.

Cummings led the Leopards with 22 points in a 66-57 victory over North Catholic for the program’s second district crown in three years.

“The game against North Catholic was about his confidence and what he can do offensively and defensively,” Bariski said. “I think he was excited about showing how good he really is.”

There was no letdown for the fabulous freshman or his Lincoln Park teammates five days later when they opened up the PIAA playoffs with a 67-34 thrashing of Clearfield in the state quarterfinals.

“His performance on Friday night showed that his concentration on the game is at a high level because he had zero WPIAL championship hangover,” Bariski said. “He buried the first three shots he took.”

Cummings had a game-high 15 points as the Leopards punched their ticket to the state semifinals.

Becoming the scoring leader in the postseason is pretty amazing for a player that didn’t crack the Lincoln Park starting lineup until the district playoffs.

“My assistants all were in my ear about inserting him with the starting lineup early in the season,” Bariski said. “I thought if I just gave it some time until the right moment, he would be so hungry to show us who the player he is, so before one of the playoff games, we made the move, and it obviously worked out very well for Lincoln Park and Brandin.

Bariski said the one thing Brandin has it common with his brother Nelly is his knowledge of the game.

“His strength is his basketball IQ,” he said. “He knows the game.”

Cummings and the rest of his Lincoln Park teammates saw their season come to an end Monday when District 10 champion Hickory edged the Leopards, 68-61, in the state semifinals.

2021 Trib HSSN Player of the Week

Week 9 – Sheldon Cox, New Castle

Week 8 – Luke Banbury, Upper St. Clair

Week 7 – Michael Dunn, Trinity

Week 6 – Adou Thiero, Quaker Valley

Week 5 – Brayden Reynolds, Chartiers Valley

Week 4 – Damon Astorino, Ambridge

Week 3 – Jackson LaRocka, Burgettstown

Week 2 – Vinnie Cugini, Aquinas Academy

Week 1 – Jackson Juzang, Winchester Thurston


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