AJ Cunningham always had one dream.
It doesn't matter which country or which team, he just wants to be paid to play basketball.
And with an invitation to represent Central Maine Community College, the 20-year-old former Emmanuel College student has a golden opportunity.
"I just want to be a professional," Cunningham told The Standard.
"It's something I've wanted to do since I was little.
"And I would love to play anywhere in the world."
Cunningham will study building construction at the two-year school while playing for the Mustangs under coach Dave Gonyea in the Yankee Small College Conference.
And while he's battled a cracked patella for the last month, the dual citizen said he would be fighting fit by the time he touched down in Maine on August 1.
Cunningham played his last game for the Warrnambool Seahawks on May 19.
But this time off court gave him a chance to hone his greatest attribute - something he shared with his father, the Seahawks legend Bobby Cunningham.
"Bouncing back into everything I've just been working on my shooting a lot," Cunningham said.
"I feel that, like my dad, I shoot really well."
Bobby Cunningham, who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, joined Warrnambool as its import in 1997 after he attended New York Institute of Technology and helped the Seahawks win back-to-back titles in his first two years.
And when AJ Cunningham speaks about his father, you don't have to guess who is his basketball idol.
"Watching old videos of when he was my age makes me feel good, because we have a lot of similarities," he said.
"I think he could have made it to the NBA, if he didn't get hurt when he was growing up. He could have been one of the best players in the world."
But unlike some father-son combinations, AJ Cunningham said he never felt any pressure from Bobby's legacy.
"I definitely want to play basketball because of him, but it's great not to be forced into it," he said.
Warrnambool Seahawks coach Tim Gainey, 36, who joined the club fresh from Southern Utah University in 2006, played with both Bobby and AJ. And he too saw plenty of the father in the son.
"It's so weird," Gainey said. "It just makes me feel old.
"You could see glimpses of his dad in AJ's game. He can definitely shoot, like Bobby.
"I think even the youngest one, Malakye, can shoot too. So it just runs in the family."
Gainey said he looked back fondly on his time spent on court with Bobby Cunningham.
"Everyone knows what Bobby did and the atmosphere he created here in Warrnambool," he said.
"It was lots of fun to play with him and he always got the crowd into it.
"He's the best passer I played with in Australia and I'm sure a few NBL guys would say the same thing.
"He was a very exciting, team-oriented player. I learned so much from him I could apply to my game."
And while Gainey said AJ had a more reserved personality than his father, he said the developing prospect's ultimate aim of turning professional was "absolutely" achievable.
"He's a bit quieter than Bobby, but I think going over to the United States will change that, because communication and being vocal is really big over there," Gainey said.
"It's really exciting AJ wants to continue playing basketball at a high level.
"Training full time will benefit him enormously - he's just got to make sure he relishes the opportunity."
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