Aldie, VA (Feb. 9, 2016) – John Champe senior Kuony Deng signed his National Letter of Intent to play both football and basketball for the Virginia Military Institute beginning the 2016/2017 academic school year.
“My recruiting experience was fun at first, said Deng. It was cool taking visits, receiving calls and texts from coaches, but after awhile I tired of it and just wanted to know where I was going to be come fall. It was a big relief and felt great to sign with VMI!”
Located in Lexington, Virginia, the Virginia Military Institute is the oldest state-supported military college in the United States. Students admitted to the college are known as military cadets and are required to participate in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Unlike the federal service academies, Virginia Military Institute cadets are not required to serve in the military upon graduation.
“The strength of the academics, the quality of the brotherhood on the sports teams, and the amazing alumni network that VMI has factored into my decision to sign,” said Deng. Additionally, Coach Scott Wachenheim, who took over the football program last year brought in a killer recruiting class and is completely changing the culture. Other recruits and I all gravitated towards he and the coaching staff because of how much they genuinely care. Coach often took the time to send me motivational quotes and life lessons, showing the quality of man he is.”
Coach Wachenheim, a 1984 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and veteran coach with over 25 years of experience in the college ranks, came to VMI from the University of Virginia where he served the previous five seasons as the Cavaliers’ offensive line coach.
“At VMI we’re expecting to go out and win a good amount of games this year, said Deng. I’ve been working to get stronger and put on some extra weight to get ready and see the field some in my freshman campaign.”
The 2015 Conference 22 Football Player of the Year, All-Loudoun defensive end, and two-time All-Conference wide receiver, is also a 2015 First Team All-State, All-Loudoun, and 3-time All-Conference basketball player. Deng was also named the 2015 Conference 28 Basketball Player of the Year. Additionally, he holds the John Champe school record for points, blocks, rebounds, and free throws in a season; and blocks, rebounds, and free throws in a game. On Feb. 8, he eclipse the 1000-points scored in a career mark.
Deng was initially recruited by Wachenheim for football, but once VMI heard that he was considering playing college basketball, the institute reached out to head basketball coach Chris Kreider about the potential impact of such a recruit on both programs. During his visit to VMI, both coaches sat down with Deng to discuss how he’d be able to contribute to both teams as a freshman.
“The scholarship will come from the football team, shared Deng, so my biggest obligation is to them. But as long as my grades are up and I have the opportunity to be all-conference in both sports, the opportunity is there. The transition is going to be tough. A lot of guys are going to have the advantage of rest and time over me, but I’m excited about the challenge and hope to have a successful career with both programs.”
Looking back at his time at John Champe, when asked about his fondest memories playing high school sports, Deng shared, “my three fondest memories in my high school sports career would have to be: helping Champe football go from 0-10 to 10-0 in just three years, hitting a big three pointer to win at home in the5 201 playoff basketball game against James Monroe, and competing in the state track meet my freshman year.”
“I am most thankful to God, there is no doubt that the glory goes to the man upstairs who makes all things possible; my family for all of the constant love, guidance, and support; and all of my coaches who have invested their time in me and other young men while they could be at home with their wives and children.”
When asked what advice would he give others on pursing their dream, Deng shared, “people are always going to doubt you. My whole life people have been telling me that I would have to pick one sport and specialize in it. I was a four-sport athlete–football, basketball, track, and baseball until my junior year, and now I’m going to be a multi-sport athlete at the Division-1 level. If I would have listened to them that would have never happened. Keep grinding and thank God everyday.”
Please join us in wishing Kuony Deng the very best in his success as a multi-sport athlete, and in pursuit of a degree in International Studies from the Virginia Military Institute.