Some nights, Will Cummings lies down and thinks about the last four years.
Surrounding his bed are his 1,000-point ball, his jerseys from the Reese’s College All-Star Game and Portsmouth Invitational and his first-team American Athletic Conference honor. These mementos serve as a reminder of how far the Jacksonville, Florida native has come.
From the 170-pound freshman guard, to the 50th member of Temple’s 1,000-point club — the eighth player to reach the milestone under coach Fran Dunphy — Cummings’ time in North Philadelphia is nearly over.
“It’s like, ‘Wow, all this happened so fast,’” he said. “From my sophomore year to now, a lot of accomplishments and a lot of accolades.”
For Cummings, his last year as an Owl was the most memorable.
Starting the year 4-3, the Owls were without transfers Jesse Morgan, a senior, and junior Devin Coleman, who were not cleared to play until December by the NCAA.
When the duo returned, the Owls won 22 of their final 30 games while reaching the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
“This year has been an awesome experience,” Cummings said. “It’s been fun overall because I can think back to the beginning of the year when we were around .500 … that turnaround during the middle of the season and how much fun we were having because we didn’t let the early part of the season ruin us.”
But for Cummings, who averaged 14.8 points per game and 4.1 assists per game this season, the year was almost defined by a near-loss to Bucknell University in the opening round of the NIT.
After finishing the regular season 22-9, the Owls were not selected as an at-large team to participate in the NCAA tournament.
Instead, Temple opened up NIT play against Bucknell University as a No. 1 seed in the NIT and defeated Bucknell behind a season-high 30 points from its senior leader.
“The moment lasted for a span of time when we didn’t make the NCAA tournament until after our Bucknell game,” Cummings said. “That is my moment where I will remember the most because that is the freshest moment of not making the tournament. We struggled against Bucknell and we won and that jump-started us playing well in the NIT.”
“Will was outstanding,” Dunphy added following the Owls’ 73-67 win against the Bison. “It was an unbelievable performance, really. He made a statement. … He shot the ball really well from the perimeter. He was ready to go, I’m very happy for him.”
Three games later, the Owls’ season ended with a 60-57 loss to the University of Miami, and Cummings began thinking toward the future.
Since he received his first recruiting letter as a junior in high school from the College of Charleston, Cummings had the dream of playing professional basketball.
Now Cummings is working to make his dream come true.
“[Playing professionally] is the motivation for any kid that is coming to play basketball,” Cummings said. “It increased when I started getting notoriety for basketball because you want it even more – you want that goal to happen.”
After graduation on May 8, Cummings will return to his hometown to determine where his NBA predraft workouts will take place. If Cummings does not make an NBA roster, he plans to play professional basketball overseas.
“I’m trying to play as long as possible,” Cummings said. “If you can get paid to play something that you love, then it’s not work. It’s having fun playing basketball and you get a check for it.”
Three of Cummings’ former teammates play professionally overseas. Former Temple guard Khalif Wyatt, who graduated in 2013, plays professionally for Hapoel Eilat in the Israeli Basketball Winner League. Another 2013 graduate, Scootie Randall, plays for the Iwate Big Bulls in the Japan-BJ League, while 2012 alum Michael Eric plays professionally in Italy for Enel Brindisi of the Lega Basket Serie A.
Cummings has been soliciting advice from the three, especially Randall, who he spoke to every day during the season.
“They just tell you to work as hard as possible,” Cummings said. “If it is meant to happen, it will happen. They say to give it all you can.”
Another piece of advice Cummings is taking with him is from former Temple basketball walk-on Jake Godino.
While the two were walking to Johnson & Hardwick halls during Cummings’ freshman year, Godino, then a senior, caught Cummings off-guard with advice that he still remembers to this day.
“He was like, ‘Wait your turn. You are going to be a star,’” Cummings said.
Michael Guise can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.