Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova.
Whenever Kyle Cuffe, Jr. is on the court, he will give plenty of energy and is a driven competitor. He will also bring plenty of athleticism, as he is known for his ferocious dunks on the court. If you are under the basket, move out or become a part of the wrong side highlight-reel mixtape.
The 6-foot-1 sophomore guard has shown plenty of promise throughout this season and it has landed him plenty of attention and offers from plenty of Division I schools throughout the nation. Chances are, there will be more and more of those coming his way very soon as his game continues to improve.
When asked what motivates him to be successful on the court, Cuffe replied, “Making sure my teammates get involved, listening to music before the game and get hype.”
Cuffe, originally from Harlem, but now lives in Toms River, New Jersey, is definitely a city kid at heart. He learned the game from his father, Kyle Cuffe, Sr., who played at Rice High School in Manhattan and played four years at St. John’s University.
On the hoops tutelage from his father, the younger Cuffe replied, “My dad went to St. John’s University and played for Rice High School, so I get all of my basketball experience from him. He played with Andre Barrett, Kenny Satterfield and Anthony Glover. My dad told me work hard, there’s going to be days when I don’t want to work hard, but if I keep up the intensity and keep up the energy, then things will go my way.”
On the strengths and weaknesses in his game, he replied, “Right now, my strengths is working hard, I’m good on defense. Right now, what I need to work on is being locked in, got to get some shots in, I need to work on my shooting, ball-handling and things like that, but it’s coming along.”
One of Cuffe’s greatest qualities on the court is his amazing leaping ability when going up for a dunk. When asked about his secret to his leaping ability, he replied, “I don’t even know what my vertical is, it’s like a 42, 43. The secret to my bounce, I have no idea, I haven’t worked on it yet, I’m trying to work on it right now, though.”
From his younger years up until last summer, Cuffe played for the legendary New York Gauchos program. When asked about playing for the Gauchos, he replied, “With that experience, I didn’t play the guard position at all. I played the four and the five, that’s where I got my toughness from, playing down low with bigs and stuff. And now, it carried over for me with the guard position.”
Throughout high school, he was always at top-flight academic prep schools. When asked about his time at the academically-elite institutions and what it’s done for him, he replied, “The prep school experience is way better then going to school in New York, I believe. It forces you to be ready for real-life situations besides basketball, and you play better competition, I feel like.”
Cuffe first started out high school at Avon Old Farms School in Avon, Connecticut, where he made a name for himself. When asked about his time at Avon Old Farms, he replied, “What Avon did, it prepared me to come to Blair, and it made me see what type of player I could be, what type of player I could become, and Blair now is showing me and putting the pieces together and paying attention to detail.”
After two years, he decided to transfer to Blair Academy, the prep powerhouse in Blairstown Township, New Jersey, which has produced several NBA players such as Charlie Villanueva, Luol Deng, Royal Ivey (now the assistant coach for the New York Knicks) and Marial Shayok (Philadelphia 76ers).
When asked about what made him want to come to Blair, Cuffe replied, “What led me to come to Blair was Coach [Joe] Mantegna and Coach [Jon] DeJesus. They’re known for getting people into great colleges and making sure that you’re paying attention to detail, like I said. Blair, so far, has been great, I’ve learned so much from Coach Mantegna and Coach DeJesus.”
This summer, Cuffe will be playing for the Pro Scholars Athletics Cardinals on the Nike EYBL circuit. When asked about playing for PSA, he replied, “In a short time, they’ve allowed me to go to camps like Hoop Group, Pangos, and different college elite camps. That’s helped me a lot in my recruiting and things like that, I was able to pick up Stony Brook and Holy Cross.”
In a short amount of time, he has gained offers from other schools such as Manhattan, St. John’s, Hofstra, UConn, Seton Hall, Iona, Pittsburgh and UCLA. Pretty soon, he’ll able to gain more schools as he continues to get better and better.
This season, he helped lead Blair to a 19-4 record and a MAPL championship, as well as an appearance in the New Jersey prep state championship game, where they lost to Blair.
Last summer, Cuffe played at the Dyckman Basketball Tournament in the Inwood section of Manhattan and had a tremendous two-handed dunk on a defender. When asked about playing streetball, he replied, “I never really played it as much, but usually I’m in the gym at Gauchos, and things like that, but the last few summers, I’ve been playing at Dyckman, and it’s been fun. I like playing against old teammates like Malachi Smith, so it was cool playing against old friends and things like that.”
And what’s next for Cuffe? “Working on my shooting, helping my teammates through long stretches, and try to win a MAPL championship and a state championship.”
Now, the young Cuffe has two more years to go in high school. Chances are that for him, the best is yet to come.