News From Terre Haute, Indiana

College

April 24, 2012

Enter Cummings, exit McWhorter

Sycamores add JUCO shooting guard, lose two-year performer

TERRE HAUTE — All it took was a stat sheet to show Indiana State men’s basketball coach Greg Lansing the glaring need the Sycamores had as they built their 2013 team.

Scoring.

The Sycamores struggled mightily to score last year. They ranked eighth in the MVC in scoring and shooting percentage.

To fix that problem, Lansing went the juco route and plucked shooting guard Dawon Cummings out of Coffeyville Junior College. Cummings averaged 13.9 points, 2.5 assists and shot 36 percent from 3-point range for the Red Ravens and was second team All-Jayhawk Conference last season.

“He’s a scorer. He’s quick with or without the ball. The best thing he does is shoot it and put it in the basket. We had a huge need there, especially losing Jordan Printy,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.

Room was made for Cummings — who will be a Sycamore for the next two years — when two-year ISU guard Steve McWhorter agreed to transfer from ISU.

Cummings, who had interest from Ohio University, Wichita State, Missouri State, Tulsa and Iona during various stages of his recruitment, was immediately comfortable when he came to Terre Haute.

“I came on my visit, I hung out with the guys and they made me feel like I was already home. I feel like I can definitely follow [Jordan Printy] and be able to shoot the ball. I can also back up Jake Odum at the point,” Cummings said.

Coffeyville coach Jay Herkelman has a close relationship with Lansing. When Lansing was an Iowa assistant coach, Herkelman and Lansing linked up to make Reggie Evans a Hawkeye.

Herkelman has a long track record of sending players to the Missouri Valley Conference. Former ISU guard Wilfred “Bird” Antoine played at Coffeyville for Herkelman. Ryan Martin (Wichita State), Boo Richardson (Illinois State) and Anthony Slack (Illinois State) are other former Coffeyville products who played in the MVC.

“Greg and I have stayed in contact. He does a great job with his guys. I think it’s a great league for junior college players to go to. It’s so competitive and it’s such good league to play in,” Herkelman said.

Herkelman noted one of Cummings’ goals was to continue the winning ways he’s had throughout his basketball career. Cummings played on a state runner-up team at Hogan Prep in Kansas City, Mo. in 2010. Coffeyville was 61-9 during the last two seasons. Coffeyville was ranked as high as second in the nation last season, but was upset in its junior college regional.

“I feel like with the team they have in place and the staff, I can come in, fill a void, and the winning ways can be kept up,” Cummings said.

Lansing envisions Cummings as a shooter, but he is athletic enough to get to the basket. ISU lacked a reliable combo shooter-driver last season.

“He can play on and off the ball. He played point guard at times and he can break you down off the dribble. He’s a better shooter, but he’s also a penetrator,” Lansing said.

McWhorter averaged 3.5 points in two years with the Sycamores. McWhorter was a defensive stopper, but struggled at times during his sophomore season, and was not a go-to scorer.

“Steve helped us win a championship and I wish nothing but the best for him. He’s a great kid,” Lansing said. “Sometimes people need a change. We thought a fresh start would be best and he’s going to get that fresh start that close to home.”

While not official, the Racine, Wis. native is expected to transfer to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. McWhorter could not be reached for comment.

Cummings will be one of seven players on the ISU roster next season that haven’t played a game of Division I basketball and one of eight who has never played a game for the Sycamores.

Blending the new players will clearly be one of Lansing’s biggest tasks in the offseason.

“I’m really excited about it. We’ve added four guys that we’ve recruited and signed, but we have also four guys who have been here for a year and haven’t played a game,” Lansing said. “We’re improved physically and we’re more athletic.”

Among those players is Indianapolis native Khristian Smith, who sat out the 2011-12 season due to academic ineligibility. The former Pike High School star will be eligible next season and should give the Sycamores athleticism at the three spot.

“A lot of people have forgotten about him. He was highly recruited out of college. He’s a very athletic wing. He’s a freshman, but he’s mature, being two years removed from high school,” Lansing said.

“He’s handled a very, very difficult year. He’s worked hard in the weight room and his game. He’s a good guy and a good teammate. The fans are going to love him.”

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