By Morgan Widdifield
LoCoSports Copy Editor
Aldie (February 22, 2016) — John Champe High School senior Kuony Deng has made a commitment to continue his football and basketball careers at the Virginia Military Institute beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year.
“Having the opportunity to play both of the sports I love at the Division I level is a blessing. The coaches on both teams let me know that I’ll have the opportunity to compete for some time as a freshman so I respected that as well, but I really chose VMI because of the amazing feeling of community that they have,” the 6-foot-6, 195-pound Deng said. “At VMI, you create relationships for a lifetime. They are also known to have the most committed alumni network in the country. VMI is a good mix of athletics, academics and meaningful experience.”
Deng – who has been at John Champe since his junior year after transferring from Iowa – has been a major playmaker on both the basketball and football teams from the moment he stepped through the doors.
This fall, Deng helped lead the Knights football team to an 11-1 season, after losing to Salem High School, 34-7, in a VHSL 4A West region semifinal.
The John Champe boys basketball team finished their regular season at 18-3 and continued its success into the postseason with a Conference 22 championship win over Kettle Run, 78-47.
Deng and the Knights will host the winner of the region first round contest between Conference 23 No. 2 E.C. Glass and Conference 21A No. 2 Woodgrove in a VHSL 4A West region quarterfinal at 7 p.m. in Aldie on February 23.
“The Champe community has been amazing. My teammates, coaches and classmates have all made me feel like a part of the family since the first day I showed up junior year,” Deng said. “In the past two years, we’ve done a lot of winning and that always feels good, but it feels especially good when you have to fight, nail and claw to earn it. There is no doubt that Champe football and basketball have had to deal with a lot of adversity to get to where they are now, but that makes it all feel so much sweeter.”
Like he did with the Knights, Deng hopes to help the Division I Keydets improve in both sports.
The VMI football team ended its 2015 season 2-9 including a 1-6 finish in the Southern Conference, while the Keydets basketball team is currently 7-19 and 2-13 in the SoCon with three regular season games left.
A decorated Loudoun County athlete with numerous all-conference, all-region, all-LoCo and Player of the Year honors, Deng hopes to be an immediate impact on both the field and the court at VMI.
“Being a multi-sport athlete is huge because it allows you to have fun. A lot of the kids who specialize early on start to think about it as a job and they miss out on how fun it really is to be an athlete. I’ve been able to compete at a high level in multiple sports because I try to stay tuned into the fun of it all,” said Deng who will play outside linebacker and small forward for the Keydets. “Grinding in the offseason, dealing with fatigue and playing in stressful situations: it’s all a lot of fun. Along with that, it allows you to gain skills from other sports and incorporate them into the sports you love the most. Multi-sport athletes are often the toughest and most poised athletes on the floor.”
Poised as ever, Deng recalled the night he made his commitment to the Virginia Military Institute, celebrating in a not-so-typical manner.
“The night that I committed I went to my favorite restaurant, Glory Days, by myself, ordered my favorite dish and just tried to wrap my head around it all,” Deng said. “People thought that I was weird for that, but it’s a good feeling to know that you’re living out your dreams.”