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Athletes of the Week Jan. 4

January 4, 2019
William Barrow

This Cape junior put on a show in the second half of his Special Olympics Unified team’s tilt with Caesar Rodney on Day 1 of Slam Dunk to the Beach, scoring 15 points – all in the second half – and draining three deep three-pointers. Blessed with a sweet stroke and a personality to match, the 6-foot-1 forward shrugged off his scoring outburst and gave all the credit to his fellow Unified athletes. “[My teammates] did so well – I’m proud of them,” Barrow said. With an attitude like that, Will The Thrill will go a long way on and off the hardwood.

Justin Champagnie

This 6-foot-7 senior forward from Bishop Loughlin (N.Y.) punished the rim during Slam Dunk wins over Liberty (Nev.) and Archbishop Wood (Pa.). He averaged 22 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting a ridiculous 77 percent from the floor, thrilling the crowd with effortless athleticism as he delivered a variety of windmill, tomahawk and reverse dunks. Champagnie, who is entertaining scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Seton Hall and a host of other high-major programs, wants to play college ball with his twin brother, Julian, another Loughlin star. “We’re definitely a package deal,” he said. “We’ve been together so long, there’s no point in splitting up now.”

Jonathan Kuminga

It might seem strange to refer to a 15-year-old as a man among boys, but this 6-foot-9 forward from Our Savior New American (N.Y.) looked the part at Slam Dunk. Kuminga shot the lights out in a loss to Gonzaga (D.C.), going 8-for-12 from three-point range on the way to a new Slam Dunk record of 40 points. The Congo native averaged 33 points, 5.5 boards and 5.5 assists in two games, hitting 13 of his 22 shots (59 percent) from beyond the arc and wowing crowds with his combination of strength, athleticism and skill. Xavier, Maryland and dozens of other schools have already made offers to Kuminga, and the blue-bloods of college hoops are sure to follow. “I don’t really have a position [on the court],” said Kuminga, 247Sports’s No. 6 prospect in the 2021 class. “I just try to do whatever coaches ask me to do to win and go 100 percent.”

Kahlil Whitney

A consensus top 10 senior who will head to Kentucky next year, the 6-foot-7 wing from Roselle Catholic (N.J.) is a high-flying athlete who can get to the cup at will. He showcased a rapidly improving jumper at Slam Dunk to the Beach, hitting shot after shot from mid-range and beyond the arc. Whitney averaged 22 points and four rebounds in the Lions’ wins over Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.) and Salesianum, going 17-for-29 (59 percent) from the floor. Scouts have pegged Whitney as a likely top 10 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. “I definitely bring athleticism and shooting [to the floor],” Whitney said.