Greater Atlanta Christian’s Brianna Cummings has been selected as the Daily Post’s girls basketball player of the year. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
NORCROSS — Throughout her high school basketball career, Greater Atlanta Christian’s Brianna Cummings has hardly been anonymous.
A four-year starter and member of the Daily Post’s All-County team in two of her first three seasons has cemented the 5-foot-11 senior’s reputation as one of Gwinnett’s finest players.
Still, with a star-studded class of 2013 that included the likes of nationally ranked players like Norcross’ Diamond DeShields, Buford’s Kaela Davis and North Gwinnett’s Lexie Brown a year ahead of her, it’s not hard to understand how she got a little lost in the shuffle within the county.
“It’s interesting how she hasn’t been that high on the radar screen,” outgoing GAC girls coach Cal Boyd said. “This girl is the real deal. … I’ve been tooting her horn as long as I can remember, … so it’s nice to have her recognized.”
Indeed, the 2014 Daily Post Girls Player of the Year made this season her time by averaging a Gwinnett-best 23 points per game, as well as finishing in the top three in the county in rebounding (third, 11.1 rpg) and steals (4.0 spg).
And she was at her best when the Spartans needed her the most, averaging 32 points per game during the postseason.
More importantly, as far as she’s concerned, she and fellow senior and All-County guard Sydni Means showed plenty of leadership in helping the Spartans (22-7) to yet another Class AA state tournament appearance before falling to eventual state champion Kendrick in overtime in the quarterfinals.
“What we accomplished as a team was just incredible,” Cummings said. “So many people doubted us, but we showed that we could hang in there with the best. … I must say, I really enjoyed this year.”
And it wasn’t just the “Big Three” that made it harder for Cummings to get into the spotlight throughout her career.
Despite an outstanding junior season in which she earned first-team All-County honors from the Daily Post by averaging 18.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 3.5 steals and 2.2 blocked shots per game, she was beaten out for Region 6-AA Player of the Year by Wesleyan’s Katie Frerking, now playing at Auburn, by a single vote.
Even as she fought to make her mark as a freshman in 2010-11, she joined a Spartans team that included future college players in Kristina Nelson, Peyton Whitted and Shannon Cranshaw, the latter of whom she will join at George Washington University in the fall.
But she didn’t mind having to work to prove herself from the beginning.
“Freshman year, our team was stacked,” Cummings recalled. “You can’t worry about that. That definitely helped me as a player — every day, just pushing, working hard in practice.
“Just watching them play my eighth-grade season, that definitely prepared me for what high school basketball was all about.”
While Cummings might have made a smaller blip on Gwinnett’s radar screen throughout her career, she was still very much a included among one of the most decorated girls basketball eras in county history.
And she was very proud she and Means could be a part of it.
“I think it’s amazing that Gwinnett had just so much talent in general over those years,” Cummings said. “Of course … you’re not going to completely stand out with so much talent. This year (Sydni and I) kind of took over and showed people what we can do. I think this was definitely our best year.”
She’ll get no argument from Boyd, who marveled not only at Cummings’ wide and varied skills on the court, but also her leadership.
“Brianna Cummings does it all,” Boyd said. “She usually guards the other team’s best player. She’s our best rebounder by far. She’s a good decision maker. She’s a good passer.
“She and Sydni really brought along the young kids this year, too. They really deserve all the credit.”