D.J. has an agent: Waterford grad hopes to play professional basketball

Except for separating his right shoulder in a basketball pickup game, 23-year-old D.J. Cunningham enjoyed an eventful April.

This past Monday, the former Waterford hoops star was honored by the UNC Asheville athletics department as the The Male Athlete of the Year at the 2014 ASHSPY’s at the Wilma Sherrill Center in Asheville. During his senior season as a Bulldog, he averaged 11.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

A career 1,000 points-plus college scorer, the 6-foot-10 Cunningham was also a defensive standout, averaging 3.6 blocks a contest, which was fourth best in the country. His 98 swats this past winter established a school single-season best.

Prior to the ASHSPY’s, about mid-month, Cunningham was one of 64 seniors in the nation to be invited to play in the 62nd edition of the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament. There, at the four-day, 12-game tournament at Churchland High, his basketball skills would’ve been evaluated by NBA and European scouts and executives.

Several former NBA players like Scottie Pippen, Dennis “The Worm” Rodman, Dave Cowens, John Stockton, Rick Barry and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe have competed in past PIT events.

Of all the bad luck, though, due to his shoulder injury, Cunningham had to reluctantly decline the invite.

“D.J.’s injury was unfortunate timing,” said Nick Zaccardi, Cunningham’s agent. “But the fact that he was invited to PIT, we believe he has tremendous potential to be a high level center/power forward in a professional league in Europe.”

Zaccardi works for Pro Partner Sports Management in Boston, Mass. His senior partner is Frank Catapano.

“Frank just thinks the world of D.J.,” Zaccardi said.

Zaccardi paused.

“My role is to facilitate and market D.J. in front of teams,” he said. “He will probably have multiple offers, and it’ll be his decision to select the right one.”

Zaccardi said the European pro basketball season runs from September to April.

Sometime during the summer, Cunningham is expected to know more of his status and future.

Currently, Cunningham is in rehab for the shoulder and working at a car lot.

On Saturday, May 10, Cunningham, with a health and wellness major and a business minor, will be receiving his UNC Asheville diploma.