The best buds of basketball

By Mark Oliver

Riverview senior Tucker Cunningham and Harding Academy senior Luv Patel are more than just crosstown rivals on the basketball court. 

They’re best friends.

Riverview senior Tucker Cunningham (left) and Harding Academy senior Luv Patel.

Introduced to one another in youth basketball camps around Searcy, the two hoopsters became teammates for Harding Academy in seventh grade after Cunningham transferred from Riverview.

“We went 12-2 that year,” Cunningham said. “Playing that season together is what really strengthened our bond and we’ve been really tight since then.”

That offseason, Patel and Cunningham joined Arkansas Ducks AAU basketball, where they traveled the country over multiple summers to grow their skills.

“We were very good for a small team of boys from Searcy,” Patel said. “Because Tucker and I worked well together, it allowed us to win a bunch of tournaments.”

In eighth grade, Cunningham returned to Riverview, and the friends became rivals on the court. For the past four seasons, it has been strictly business when the Raiders battle the Wildcats.

“When it comes to head-to-head matchups against Luv, it has to be me who holds the advantage,” Cunningham said. “When we beat Harding Academy earlier in January, I had 17 points.”

“Yeah, they got us, but we play them again later this year, and I’m hoping that we can get them back,” Patel said. “I also wouldn’t mind seeing them again in the title game.”

Despite their friendly rivalry, both Cunningham and Patel have bright athletic futures and support one another on their basketball journeys.

“Luv is 10 times better as a shooter than I am,” Cunningham said. “On the court, he does his job well. My favorite memories with him are traveling across the country to play other high-level competition and all the jokes and good laughs along the way.”

“We are two guys with the same goals who want to play at the next level, ” Patel said.

Mark Oliver
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