Justin Kuntz of Glen Burnie (Md.) High School has experienced more than his share of personal troubles at such a young age, but the forward looks to have overcome severe circumstances to become a Division I college basketball prospect.
The 6-foot-7, 200-pound Kuntz averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and two assists per game last season, when he helped Glen Burnie secure a region finals berth and a 17-8 record. For his play, Kuntz earned first-team All-Anne Arundel County honors.
"Justin was just playing out-of-his-mind great for us in the [Alhambra Catholic Invitational] tournament," Glen Burnie coach Mike Rudd told ESPNRISE.com. "Justin had 84 points and 45 rebounds in the three playoff games. He was scoring on people inside and outside, dominating inside, dunking on people. He just really came into his own and played great."
Kuntz has taken a long and winding path to becoming a top high school player.
Kuntz's mother died in Virginia Beach when he was a child. He has lived in New York with his father and with an older brother at times. Kuntz's father now lives outside the United States in the Caribbean and his older brother, who is in the military, is stationed abroad.
Kuntz went to Meade High School [Fort Meade, Md.] as a freshman and was at [Cardinal] Gibbons [Baltimore] for two years, though he only played one year of basketball after breaking his jaw and missing part of that year.
Although Kuntz will be a fifth-year senior at Glen Burnie during the 2009-10 academic year, he will be eligible to compete because he played only three years of varsity basketball.
Kuntz was talented enough as a freshman to make the varsity squad at Meade. He sat out his first year at Cardinal Gibbons while getting academically and socially acclimated. His 2007-08 season at Gibbons was cut short by a broken jaw, but Kuntz already was showing excellent potential as a player because of his height, athleticism and explosiveness.
"Justin has a ton of potential. We have a great program here at Glen Burnie -- a lot of tradition and success in boys' basketball -- and Justin is as talented a player as we have had," Rudd said. "Justin runs well, he has long arms, he can leap. He dunks on everybody. He can play inside or outside. We had to move him inside because our senior big man didn't have a great year this year, so we needed Justin inside to help with shot-blocking, rebounding and inside scoring.
"I know that Justin has had some tough times in terms of academics and his life and stuff, but I can only tell you that in the time he has been at Glen Burnie, he has been a model citizen and a good kid. I know I'm proud of him, and he has done well academically here. He has been living with a host family here in our district the last couple of years, and I think he has matured and gotten more stability in his life. He has been a good kid here and he's doing good in school."
James Quinn covers high school basketball for MDVarsity.com.