Will Cummings didn’t earn much playing time in his freshman season with the Temple men’s basketball team. As a sophomore, though he’d have to play behind a number of seniors, Owls coach Fran Dunphy viewed Cummings as a leader in the making.
“The summer before my sophomore year, Coach Dunphy said to me, ‘This is your time to step up,’” said Cummings, who in May graduated from the Fox School of Business. “I remember going home (to Jacksonville), working out three times a day, and watching it come together and make a difference.”
That summer, Cummings modeled a catchphrase around his newfound determination: “Self-Motivated Grind.” A capable web programmer who studied Management Information Systems at Fox, Cummings developed a website to promote his brand and create T-shirts with the slogan.
“I can’t explain why it took off so successfully,” he said. “I just Tweeted it one day and I started hearing from people who said they liked the message that it was sending.”
Cummings, who went on to earn First-Team All-American Athletic Conference honors in his senior year, is demonstrating his mettle on a different level these days. He’s suiting up for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League, the single-affiliate team of the NBA’s Houston Rockets.
As he hones his skills and works toward his dream, Cummings recently shared a few minutes of his time:
Q: You played with the Rockets’ summer-league team and with the team throughout training camp. After graduating from the Fox School, did you have offers to play professionally overseas, as well?
Cummings: “I did. I had plenty of offers overseas, but the goal was to make the NBA. My family, my agent, and I know it’s a process. Houston has shown a full commitment to me, and while there are no promises, I’m just playing hard and working every day, trying make my case to play in the NBA.”
Q: There was one moment from the preseason in which you made the top plays on ESPN’s SportsCenter. That must’ve been a nice surprise, right?
Cummings: “I had a lob pass to K.J. (McDaniels) and it ended up on Temple’s Facebook page. It was great to see the support.”
Q: If you weren’t playing basketball professionally, what career path would you have chosen?
Cummings: “Well, my degree is in MIS. I’m good at programming, so I probably would’ve pursued something in that field. I had an internship my senior year with The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia. It’s a non-profit, and I worked there as an information systems intern working on their website and building it from scratch. I was there six weeks and got a lot of experience. If I ever get injured, and knock on wood that I don’t, I know that’s a career path I’d probably pursue.”
Q: You built a website of your own, too, right?
Cummings: “It’s for my brand, Self-Motivated Grind. I built the site my junior year at Temple as a motivational page to connect with young kids looking for inspiration. I have Google Analytics for the site, and it’s reached 45 countries. I have an Instagram page for it, too. People send me photos of themselves wearing my T-shirts at Temple games. I haven’t put the time in lately, because of basketball, but it’s on the backburner. It’s something my sister (Ashley) and I work on together. She and my brother (Willie) work at Lockheed Martin.”
Q: Is it safe to assume there aren’t many basketball players who have that skill set?
Cummings: “That’s probably true. I’ve heard (Miami Heat forward) Chris Bosh knows how to program, but it’s rare, yes.”
Q: Has there been a major lifestyle adjustment following graduation from Fox?
Cummings: “You don’t realize how much time you have on your hands and how hard you work in college until you graduate. I’ve adapted pretty smoothly to life after college, but without classes, study halls, or anything like that, it can be slow.”
Q: What part of your Fox School education translates to the basketball court?
Cummings: “I would say it’s the critical thinking skills I learned when I was at Fox. There are a lot of classes, including a project management class, that teach you along the way how to think critically and to help you think about a solution to the problem you’re facing. That’s a valuable skill that I can use in everyday life and as it correlates to basketball, thinking about the current moment or one play ahead. I have Fox to thank for that.”