Sue Cummings, a high jumper during her prep days, tells people that her son inherited his athletic ability from her.
What Brent Cummings inherited from his father, a college linebacker, was a sense of direction.
“He has always discouraged football because of the pain it can bring you,” Brent said of Tom Cummings, who played for the University of Puget Sound out of Lincoln High in Tacoma, and still experiences football-related stiffness.
So Brent Cummings wasn’t part of the Pullman group that played for the State 2A football title last month in Tacoma. But he certainly makes the Greyhounds a strong candidate for a state basketball berth.
Cummings, a junior, leads the Great Northern League in scoring at 20.9 points per game. He scored 44 in two games last weekend as the third-ranked Greyhounds (10-0) defeated top league rivals Medical Lake and Chewelah.
Cummings’ 6-foot-6-1/2 stature can be attributed, in part, to his 6-2 father and 6-1 mother. He also has cousins in the 6-6 and 6-9 range.
But Cummings is more than a tall guy who picks on undersized posts.
“He’s able to score from inside as well as outside,” said second-year Greyhounds coach Ken Swanger. “He handles the ball well and has great timing. He’s a complete basketball player.”
He’s a complete person, too. Academics rate first in the Cummings household, as Tom is a plant pathologist at Washington State University and Sue works in the health field in Colfax.
Oldest brother Aron, a freshman at WSU carrying 17 credits, graduated from Pullman High with a 4.0 grade-point average.
An A-minus in mechanical drawing during his freshman year is all that keeps Brent from a 4.0.
Brent’s course load includes third-year Spanish, second-year algebra and chemistry. He has worked as an assistant in WSU’s agricultural department and at the college bookstore.
The Cummings family came to Pullman from West Seattle during Brent’s fifth-grade year. Tom, a researcher, often assists Columbia Basin farmers.
Brent and longtime friend Ryan Harms, one of Pullman’s guards, had Swanger as a junior varsity coach two years ago. Both expected to have Tim Busch as their varsity coach, but the Greyhounds’ 16-year veteran, to this day a history/geography teacher at the school, gave up the position after the 1995-96 season.
In effect, Cummings, Harms and Swanger graduated to varsity together. There were growing pains to endure, as the relative ease of JV competition was replaced by cold reality.
“Everything had changed, become more intense,” Cummings said. “You had to adjust or you’d get blown away.”
Pullman, formerly in the Frontier League, has found a comfortable fit in the new 2A GNL. The difference, Swanger said, is being able to compete on a state level and not just a league level.
Three teams will advance to state from the GNL, so Pullman has room for some error. The Greyhounds are halfway through league play, having defeated all seven rivals.
Cummings averaged 27 ppg before Christmas, but lost some of his shooting touch and conditioning when his family spent the holidays attending the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
“That’s part of it, but I’m also tossing it around a little more,” Cummings said of the drop in his scoring average.
Most teams haven’t tried to play man-to-man defense against Cummings, and Pullman’s long-range shooters can make them pay for playing zone. Even Cummings, if pressed, feels comfortable shooting 3-pointers. If he plays Division I ball, he’ll likely find a spot at wing.
Cummings played baseball until two years ago, but turned full-time to basketball.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: BRENT’S BESTS Jan. 23, 1998: Totaled 27 points and 13 rebounds in 70-66 win over Medical Lake. Dec. 19, 1997: Scored 31 during 64-45 win over Deer Park. Dec. 18, 1997: 10-of-12 shooting from the field during 84-60 win over Lakeside (Nine Mile). Jan. 7, 1997: Basket with 7 seconds left for 58-56 win over Chewelah. Dec. 20, 1996: Ten fourth-quarter points and four points in third overtime of 67-60 triple-OT win over Colfax.