KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. Temple freshman guard Will Cummings models his game after Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Allen Iverson. If he can ever become anything remotely to close to any of those players, Fran Dunphy got quite the steal.
Cummings, a 6-foot freshman from Jacksonville, Fla. who single-handedly represents Temples entire 2011 recruiting class, is a fast, quick, athletic point guard with the ability to get into the lane and attack the rim.
I take different pieces from different players, Cummings said, like Chris Pauls passing, Derrick Roses creating off the dribble to get to the basket, and Allen Iversons crossover pull-up jumper.
He may not be a tall point guard, but Cummings is long and can leap. Temple fans will see him throw one down in a defenders face at some point, like he did last week at the Delco Pro-Am league. On a fast break, he rose above the rim with one hand, and all of a sudden the crowd was in awe.
On Sunday in the Delco Pro-Am league, Cummings had a breakout game with 22 points and five rebounds. He shot 7 for 10 from the field and 2 for 4 on three-point attempts as his team, Under Armour Elite, defeated P.T.P., 79-67.
Its great competition, Cummings said about playing in the Delco Pro-Am league. If I had stayed at home, I wouldnt be able to get the same competitive experience. There are no Pro-Ams or anything down in Florida, so coming out here and playing against other college guys and pros is a great experience.
Cummings team over the summer includes Temple teammates Khalif Wyatt and Dalton Pepper, who will have to sit out this season after transferring from West Virginia. It also includes Lavoy Allen, who was drafted by the Sixers last month. Playing in the Delco Pro-Am together is invaluable added experience for Cummings, Wyatt and Pepper, not only to improve as players against some of the toughest competition in the Philly area, but to gain chemistry between the three teammates.
Its great knowing how to set Khalif up and set Dalton up, Cummings said. Weve been kind of working on that, too. Being able to play with Dalton early is a great advantage instead of having to wait a year. Were building great chemistry and getting ready for this year and next year.
Cummings grew up as an Iverson fan and has always wanted to play basketball in Philly. Once he got to know the Temple coaches, he realized Temple was the ideal college choice.
It was mainly the coaches, Cummings said about choosing Temple. Theyre real genuine guys. And its really a basketball city. Ive always wanted to play in Philadelphia. Growing up, Allen Iverson was my favorite player. Ive always wanted to be here and experience up-north basketball. Down south, its all football and baseball.
Temple brings back nearly its entire roster that went to the third round of the NCAA tournament last season. Other than Allen, the Owls return every other key player. With a loaded backcourt that includes Wyatt, Juan Fernandez, Ramone Moore, Scootie Randall, Aaron Brown and T.J. DiLeo, it may be tough for Cummings to find playing time as a freshman, but he says hes not concerned.
Im not really worried about that right now, Cummings said. Im just looking to go in and help the team any way I can. Ill be used however Coach Dunphy needs me to be used. Im going to go into practice, play hard and push other guys.
The Owls took a huge step in March by finally getting over the hump and winning an NCAA tournament game. They defeated Penn State before losing a heartbreaker in double overtime to San Diego State. With so much talent and experience returning to North Broad Street, expectations are high. But Cummings expectations for the 2011-12 Owls are especially high.
National championship, Cummings said about his expectations for Temple this season. I wouldnt play the game if I didnt expect to go all the way. I know a lot of people are saying Sweet 16, but thats cutting it short. Were going to shoot for the national championship. Thats what Im looking forward to.
Theres a lot of excitement among the Temple faithful this year. Whether its a national championship, Sweet 16 or just another NCAA tournament berth, Cummings is joining an Owls team with perhaps its highest expectations in a decade.
Im really excited, Cummings said. Since I was little, this is what I wanted to do play college basketball. Im looking forward to it, Im working out every day, and Im in the weight room every day. I cant wait for the season.
Ryan Feldman covers college basketball and the NBA draft for his website, TheHoopsReport.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.