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Making the jump: Cummard has gone from all-around player to all-around scorer

SHARE Making the jump: Cummard has gone from all-around player to all-around scorer

PROVO — Since his arrival at BYU a couple of years ago, Lee Cummard has been a solid, all-around player, the kind that can fill up a stat sheet with points, rebounds, assists, blocked shots and steals.

In recent weeks, though, the junior guard has been filling the basket more than at any other time in his college career — while continuing to do all the other things.

Take his performance in an 88-66 rout of Lamar on Dec. 12. Cummard scored a career-high 27 points — including a career-high five 3-pointers — and dished out a career-high eight assists to go along with 10 rebounds. He was two assists shy of becoming the fourth BYU player in history to record a triple-double. The last time it happened was 1988, when Michael Smith accomplished the feat.

In seven games last month, Cummard averaged 18.1 points, scoring 20 or more in three of them. He shot 67.2 percent from the field (39-for-58) and 50 percent (11-for-22) from 3-point range. What's more, he averaged 5.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists.

For his efforts, Cummard has been named the Deseret Morning News' athlete of the month of December.

The 6-foot-7, 185-pounder was known as a scorer when he came to Provo after leading Arizona's Mesa High School to the 5A state championship in 2004. He averaged 20 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a senior, and he was named the 2004 Arizona Player of the Year and a McDonald's All-America nominee.

Cummard averaged a modest 4.9 points as a freshman and 9.4 points as a sophomore at BYU. But this season, the Cougars are counting more on his scoring ability.

"Lee's made a tremendous jump for us, especially in the last month," said coach Dave Rose. "He has expanded his role on this team, especially scoring-wise."

Cummard said his increased scoring production is a result of several factors. "It's a combination of me being more aggressive and my teammates finding good looks for me," he explained. "In our system, everybody can get good shots. It's a matter of being more aggressive within the system."

With teams keying on 6-foot-11 center Trent Plaisted, Cummard has been able to find holes in opposing defenses.

Then again, Cummard is much more than just a scorer. He ranks in the Top 10 in the Mountain West Conference in eight statistical categories and has molded himself into one of the Cougars' best defensive players.

"He's always been a vital part of our game plan as far as defense and rebounding," Rose said. "He's always been one of our leaders in steals, assists and blocked shots. But he's been a lot more aggressive offensively in scoring. He's shooting the ball really well. When you are shooting 61 percent from the field over the course of a year, that really increases your confidence level. His confidence is in a good spot right now. Defensively, he draws some pretty tough assignments and sometimes we play him a lot of minutes. His consistency has been terrific."

In addition to his scoring and rebounding in December, Cummard recorded six assists against both Portland and Weber State; five assists and four blocks against Pepperdine; eight assists, five steals and two blocks against Southern Utah; and two assists and two blocks against Boise State.

One of the more memorable plays of the month occurred in the Lamar game. With about three minutes remaining, and BYU leading 81-58, freshman Jimmer Fredette got a steal and passed the ball ahead to Cummard, with Plaisted trailing, on a fast break. Cummard glanced behind him as he drove to the basket, then bounced the ball off the backboard, allowing Plaisted to leap up, grab the ball and slam it through the rim.

"It was a no-brainer," Cummard said of the play. "I let the big guy go get it."

Lee Cummard by the numbers

BYU's junior guard helped lead the Cougars to a 5-2 record in December. He averaged 18.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists in seven games, including a career-high 27 points and a career-high eight assists against Lamar. In that contest, Cummard also pulled down 10 rebounds and was two assists shy of becoming the fourth player in school history to record a triple-double. For the month, Cummard shot 67.2 percent from the field (39-for-58) and 50 percent (11-for-22) from 3-point territory.

E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com