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Will Cummings Hopes To Make Mark With Rockets Following Road Far Less Traveled

Will Cummings' journey to signing his first NBA contract wasn't easy, but he now wants to prove he's worth an extra look.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Perseverance is defined as a steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, or a state, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. At some point, every individual is faced with some type of obstacle, but it is how they overcome it that really defines their character.

Will Cummings faced many obstacles during his basketball journey that made him question whether or not he could really play at a high level, but he put those thoughts to rest quickly and it paid off by signing his first NBA contract with the Houston Rockets. Without the struggles Cummings faced while making the transition into college, he may not be in the position he’s in today.

Coming out of high school, Cummings was a three-star recruit, according to Rivals. Averaging 18.1 points, 8.1 assists, and 4.0 steals per game as a senior at Providence School, he was named First Coast Player of the Year. What's more, he led his team to a 86-6 record over three years and capturing their first state title in 2010.There was no question that Cummings could play at the next level.

Cummings had his choice of schools to choose from, but he wasn’t about just basketball, Cummings put together a GPA above 4.0 while in high school, so education weighed in heavily as well. When it came down to it, Temple University was the best fit for him academically, as well as athletically.

The first two years at Temple were tough for Cummings, averaging just 1.4 points per game his freshman year and 5.8 his sophomore year. Heading into the summer of his junior campaign, his confidence in his overall game was shaky at best. Cummings went back to the basics in order to get his game back. "My brother, dad, and family overall helped a lot because when I had two seasons like my freshman and sophomore year it took a shot to my confidence. It made me question whether or not I could play at a high level. Just re-gaining my confidence and getting back to what I was doing in high school was the biggest difference, I’d say," Cummings recently told RidiculousUpside.com. "I would be in the gym three times a day when I was home with my trainer. So between my family support and my trainer, it helped me make the transition into turning it around have having a big junior season."  Cummings went on to average to 16.8 points per game and ranked first on the team in assists at 4.6 per game, after regaining a certain comfort level.

Cummings’ senior season was more of the same statistically in comparison to his junior year. He led the Owls to a 26-11 record and a No. 1 seed in the NIT, where he had a season-high 30 points in the opening round against Bucknell. The Owls made it to the Elite 8 of the NIT before being defeated by Louisiana Tech. Though Cummings’ collegiate career didn’t end with a championship, he knew he was prepared to play at a higher level, something he was questioning just two summers ago.

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Cummings agreed to terms with Houston in early July and subsequently played for their summer league team. Starting in all four games, he talked about his experience and the difference he noticed from the college game and the NBA adding, "Guys are a lot smarter. At summer league you’re playing with all the top guys from college and players who have already been in the league, so you can’t really make the same mistakes you made in college because they are able to capitalize on your mistakes quickly."

After putting together some impressive performances, the Rockets decided to sign Cummings on July 26 to an official contract. It was a dream come true for Cummings, but it didn’t hit him immediately.

"At the moment you don’t realize it because you just want to play basketball, but after I got back to got room and really relaxed, it hit me that I signed my first contract that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little kid," Cummings added. "It becomes a surreal moment and makes me want to work harder and do whatever I can to stay in the league."

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A player with Cummings’ skill is definitely made to fit an NBA roster, but there are parts of his game that he really thinks can set him apart and help the Rockets. "Quickness in transition and the ability to make plays at the point guard position. Another thing they liked about me was that I am able to score the basketball," he continued. "I also take pride defensively so being able to guard at the position is something I can bring to the table as well."

Heading into training camp, he faces yet another obstacle in competing with well-established point guards Ty Lawson and Patrick Beverley. But Cummings is going into it optimistically and looks forward to learning as much as possible from the two. "It’s going to be a great experience going against those guys in practice. Pat has been back in Houston, so I’ve been able to work out with him a few times now and putting me through different types of workouts, which definitely helps give me a jump-start going to training camp," Cummings said. "It’s really just a blessing to be playing at the highest level and learn as much as I can from the guys who have been there and want to be the best."

Cummings has been in Houston for the past three weeks now polishing his game before training camp the last week in September. "I’ve been working on shooting and getting my floater down to perfection. Being able to knock down open shots in the league is huge, so I’ve been really working on my repetitions on my jump shot."

There may be some obstacles along the way, but Cummings has his family and a strong support system to hep him reach his goals. He's focused with a clear path in mind as to how to achieve them.