Exclusive: Coach Chris Chavannes, “Jonathan Kuminga has the Mind of a Coach”

Exclusive: Coach Chris Chavannes, “Jonathan Kuminga has the Mind of a Coach”

by July 23, 2021 0 comments

Jonathan Kuminga‘s path to the NBA Draft is one that is unlike many others. Kuminga grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo and moved to the United States for high school. He played basketball and studied at three different schools over four years and became the fourth highest-ranked prospect in his class (via 247sports national rankings). Kuminga picked up many offers from universities but chose to take the professional route and sign with the G-League Ignite.

For more on Kuminga, check out our scouting report on him.

Career to this Point

With the Ignite, Kuminga shined. He scored 15.8 points, grabbed 7.2 rebounds, and dished out 2.7 assists per game. He displayed tremendous athleticism and potential on both ends of the floor. As a result of his terrific performances, he will likely be selected in the top 10 of the 2021 NBA Draft.

Chris Chavannes had the opportunity to coach Kuminga at The Patrick School in Hillside, New Jersey for his junior and senior seasons of high school. Chavannes was impressed with how “gentle” Kuminga was for a player of his size and athletic ability.

“He is a phenomenal person [and] is soft-spoken. This guy was a physical specimen… Then when you see him play for the first time, oh my G-d, he does two extremes. He is a gentle giant, you know… he is this ferocious, physical, [and] dominant player.”

Although Kuminga’s first language is not English, Chavannes said he was able to bond with the other teammates well and the school had no issues as a result of it.

“The transition was easy because there were already five or six [international] players there… As a result, when you walk in the locker room, it wasn’t English being spoken, it was [a] different dialogue. You could listen to two kids speaking, it could be French [being spoken, or other languages]… That makes it a lot easier because you have people to relate to and understand what you’re going through.”

“There were no issues as far as the language barrier that impacted upon being able to coach him or in a classroom… it was not a problem.”

He Doesn’t Have an Ego

Although the Patrick School had a talented roster around Kuminga, Chavannes said, “there was no question that there was a gap between [Kuminga] and the next person,” but all of his teammates respected him. Kuminga did not let his rising popularity get into his head.

“I think he is a person that genuinely interacts with people well… In our school, we have grades six to 12 and he would interact with the sixth graders, he would interact with kids from all walks, and the teachers. He just had a way about him… that is very down to earth. [Kuminga] did not big-time anyone and I think that was a big thing because a person of his skillset sometimes [can] lose their minds, but in his case, he interacts with everyone.”

“[Kuminga] is a really cool down-to-earth nice person. He is not a party-going animal… [Once you get to] know him, you like him.”

Chavannes said Kuminga’s lack of feel for the game is due to his dominance in high school, but there are no questions about his work ethic and IQ.

“[Kuminga] is a phenomenal workaholic. He will put a ton of time into his game, hours upon hours each day, you do not have to question that […] the team component stuff is where at times he might have had some open downs… I think that when you’re so dominant and he was allowed to play AAU and just dominate… [you get] away from that team concept, that feel [for the] faster game… I think that impacted upon it and probably did not allow the other parts [of his] game to grow.”

“His IQ for the game is very high. While he was injured, he would sometimes [walk next to me] around the gym and he would identify things that let you know [how smart he was]… He has the mind of a coach.”

The Future is Bright

Chavannes outlined his expectations for Kuminga moving forward.

“I have my expectations. I think [Kuminga] has high expectations for himself […] he will do well because his work ethic is unreal. No one is gonna stop him from what he wants to do and I think he will make the adjustments that he needs to make based on what they’re telling him that he needs to do… I’m a tough person to deal with. I’m known as a no-nonsense coach [and] can be rigid at times… He was fine with us; I never really had any more issues with him than anybody else.” “He has been battle-tested. I can assure you of that.”


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Kamran Nia is a journalist from Los Angeles, California.

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