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Julia Cunningham joins Princeton’s women’s basketball 1000-point club

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Julia Cunningham sinks in her 999th, 1000th, and 1001st points
Photo courtesy of @PrincetonWBB/Twitter

In 51 years of Princeton the women’s basketball program, only 26 women have graduated with 1,000 career points. As another successful season comes to an end, that list will now grow to 27.

During the Tigers’ visit to Columbia, junior guard Kaitlyn Chen sent a pass towards senior guard Julia Cunningham, who sunk a three to extend Princeton’s lead. This three-pointer marked her 999th, 1000th, and 1001st points, cementing her name in Princeton’s women’s basketball 1000-point club. 


Growing up in New Jersey, Cunningham’s feel for basketball was better than anyone her high school coach Reese Kirchofer had ever seen. “The first thing we noticed at tryouts was how comfortable she was, how confident she was, and her talent was evident,” Kirchofer said in an interview with Princeton athletics.

Within the first 15 minutes of high school tryouts, Kirchofer benched her, already certain that she was destined to be a star on the varsity team. Over the next four years, Kirchofer’s observation was validated. Cunningham became Watchung Hills High School’s all-time scoring leader and captained the team twice to the Skyland Conference Raritan Division championship. She finished off her high school career on the All-USA New Jersey second team with 1,718 points, 738 rebounds, and 360 assists. 

At Princeton, Cunningham credited her 1,000 points to her tenacity on the court and consistency with practicing.

“A lot of [scoring success] just boils down to hard work when nobody’s watching,” Cunningham explained. “Getting a lot of shots up, [utilizing] all that time in practice that you’re working with your teammates, [and taking] pride in that every single day is important.” 

As a first-year, Cunningham averaged 4.9 points per game, starting in 6 of 29 games. As a sophomore, however, she started in every single game, nearly doubling her points per game (8.2) and improving in every other statistical category. She finished the season as an important contributor on the undefeated 2019–20 Ivy League squad, earning an All-Ivy honorable mention and placement on the Ivy League All-Tournament team. 

In her junior year, Cunningham took control of the court. After taking a gap year during the COVID-19 pandemic, she captained the women’s basketball team to another undefeated Ivy League championship, starting all thirty games while scoring a career-high 13.4 points per game. She ended the season on the All-Ivy first team with improved scoring, rebounding, blocking, stealing, and assisting. 


Although she has accomplished an individual feat that many Princeton basketball players strive for, Cunningham is more focused on winning another conference championship. 

“Obviously, our goal from the beginning of the season has been an Ivy League title. That's been our goal since I was a freshman here, and that's never changed,” she explained. “Now as a senior, I think it means a little bit more.”

Cunningham, however, is excited to join the list of legendary 1,000-point club alumni, headlined by her former teammate and all-time Princeton scoring leader Bella Alaire ’20. 

“It’s really exciting and special to join that group of 26 alums who have also reached the 1000-point mark in their career. I think looking back on it, it’s going to be really special to share that [achievement] with that alumni group.” 

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As her college career comes to an end, Cunningham hopes that the program continues to succeed after her departure. 

“Coming in as a freshman, I think that was always my main goal. I tried to be as consistent as possible throughout my career, and a lot of things in the past five years have been firsts for Princeton’s women’s basketball,”  Cunningham said. “This year and looking ahead, I think that the future is really bright.”

Brian Mhando is an associate editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’

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