Trib HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Week for March 27, 2023

Monday, March 27, 2023 | 11:09 PM

Some young athletes watch TV to see their sports heroes in action.

Others get a chance to actually meet the players who inspire them.

Lincoln Park junior Brandin Cummings got to live under the same roof with his basketball role model.

Lincoln Park graduate Nelly Cummings scored 2,411 points in high school before first taking his on-court talents to Colgate, then transferring to Pitt this past offseason. He played a big part in the Panthers’ huge turnaround season this year.

“Growing up with him, he won a state title as a freshman in high school,” Brandin Cummings said of his brother. “He’s really been my biggest inspiration. He believes in me the way I believe in him. All I’ve ever known is my brother being successful, and I just want to be like him. I really appreciate what he’s done for me.”

Nelly coming home to play at Pitt this year was a big part of Brandin deciding to attend and play for the Panthers.

“My brother was being recruited by Pitt after he decided to leave Colgate and coach (Jeff) Capel came to our house to recruit me and my brother,” Cummings said. “That’s actually the day he offered me. With my brother being on the team, I’m close to the players. I’m close to the coaches. I really felt at the moment that was the best decision for me.”

The best decision for Cummings and Lincoln Park on Monday was for him to come out shooting NBA-range 3-pointers in the PIAA Class 4A semifinals against Uniontown.

“Earlier in the day, I was talking to my teammates and they wanted me to come out with a lot of intensity,” Cummings said. “My shot was falling, so I was going to keep shooting it. I hit my first one, then another one after that, then another one after that. I was hot. I was feeling it.”

Cummings connected on four 3-pointers in the opening quarter as the Leopards jumped out to a 27-14 lead over the Red Raiders. The game was never close after that as Lincoln Park coasted to an 85-64 win.

That set up an epic Class 4A state title game Thursday between WPIAL champion Lincoln Park and District 12 winner and perennial state power Neumann-Goretti.

The Saints have won four PIAA championships in a seven-year span between 2012-2018.

For the first time all season, the Leopards may have been an underdog as they prepared for the D-12 champs.

“We knew everybody saw us as the underdog, but we didn’t feel that way,” Cummings said. “We had a really tough season and we beat a lot of tough teams, so we knew we had a great chance of winning that game.”

The game was close throughout and was tied 58-58 in the waning seconds. The Leopards called timeout and were setting up what they hoped would be the game winner.

Sophomore Maleek Thomas put an explanation point on his sensational season with a running floater in the paint for the golden points for Lincoln Park.

“Nobody can stand in front of that guy one on one, so I knew as soon as I saw him one on one at the top of the key that he was going to go right by that defender and get to his floater,” Cummings said.

After a couple of misses by Neumann-Goretti in the waning seconds, Cummings rebounded the second miss and was fouled with a half-second left on the clock.

“It looked like that ball (on the tip) was sitting on the rim forever,” Cummings said. “It felt like it was sitting there for five minutes, but it came off, I grabbed it and was fouled. I knew if I hit both free throws, there would be no miracles. It’s March, but there were no miracles, not here.”

He brought the icing and applied it to the cake by making both free throws for the final points in the third state championship for Lincoln Park, 62-58.

Once again, Cummings led the Leopards with 25 points.

Trib HSSN Players of the Week

Week 11 – Bryce Robson, Deer Lakes

Week 10 – Stephen Goetz, Northgate

Week 9 – Dante DePante, Central Catholic

Week 8 Rodney Gallagher, Laurel Highlands

Week 7 – Dunny Rowe, McKeesport

Week 6 – Shea Champine, Bishop Canevin

Week 5 – Vinnie Cugini, Aquinas Academy

Week 4 – Makahi Valentine, Steel Valley

Week 3 – Royce Parham, North Hills

Week 2 – Jaydis Kennedy, Geibel Catholic

Week 1 – Joe Roth, Ellwood City


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