What is it that makes a great player?
Some would argue overall accolades, others would argue statistics game to game. I argue for the passion of the game.
What better player to prove the argument that passion can prove a great player in Markeith Terrell Cummings, guard/forward out of Birmingham, Alabama?
For Markeith Cummings, basketball has been running in his family. In an exclusive interview, Markeith revealed that both of his parents played ball along with his uncle. Growing up in a basketball orientated world proved helpful for his future, as the everyday basketball fan would not have been blessed with seeing Markeith Cummings run the floor and attack the basket with such passion.
In high school, Cummings played a trio of sports in football, baseball and basketball. During his sophomore year, and again when he turned 17, Markeith needed to drop a sport so he could commit his time to everything else in his studies.
I had a hard decision to make when I was a 17 year old; basically I had to decide how my life was going to go. I got recruited by the whole SEC in football, but decided to play basketball in college, so once I made that decision I put my all into it from there.Markeith Cummings on his athletic choices leading to his basketball career
Markeith went to college at Kennesaw State after a very successful prep career at Beach High School and a post-graduate year at Genesis One Christian School. In both schools he teamed with college teammate LaDaris Green. They both redshirted the 2008-2009 season to begin their freshman seasons in 2009.
Markeith immediately impressed the Kennesaw State Owls fans, starting in 31 of all 33 games. His hard work earned him second-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference and Atlantic Sun All-Freshman team honours. Despite only being a freshman, he never eclipsed his career high of 32 points against Belmont in his college career.
His sophomore, junior and senior year rang more of the same story. After multiple visits to the second-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference, Markeith Cummings ended his college career with the all time leading scorer title for Kennesaw State with 2,048 points. He also became the sixth player in conference history to reach 2,000 points scored.
On May 16, 2013, Cummings graduated from KSU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Human Services. When asked how he balanced being an athlete and his studies, he responded; “It wasn’t really that hard – just had to apply myself to accomplish the bigger goal to graduate. And with being a student athlete, the program has ways of helping you succeed; we had tutors and help from advisers to keep us on task.”
With the 2013 NBA Draft rolling around, Markeith Cummings knew he needed to declare, and so he did. With each pick being selected, the hope dwindled for those not already selected. Things seemed different for Markeith.
I mean, that’s always a dream as a kid [to get drafted]. I just looked at is as I had to take another route to make my dream come true to become a professional basketball playerMarkeith Cummings on how it felt not to get selected during the 2013 NBA draft.
After he did not get selected to the NBA draft, Markeith Cummings did not waste enough time to begin his professional basketball career. He began his amazing career playing for NorthPort Batang Pier, a Philippines Basketball Association team. “I had just graduated from college in May and then June or July I was in the Philippines playing my first game,” Markieth told me.
In this important first game as a pro, he led Batang Pier to a victory with his 37 points and 11 rebounds. He led the team to reach the quarter-finals, in which they lost to team Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
After his short stint with the PBA, Markeith Cummings was selected by the Bakersfield Jam (NBA D League Phoenix Suns team – now G League) in the third round. After an impressive season with the Bakersfield Jam (in limited minutes), he was resigned for the next season but got waived after appearing in just two games. A month later, Markeith was picked up by the Westchester Knicks (NBA D League New York Knicks team). He played just 8 minutes in his first two games, but improved with a game high 21 points before slowly losing minutes to the other younger players in the roster. He was waived in February, but picked up by the Sioux Falls Skyforce (NBA D League Miami Heat team), where he appeared in 11 games to end the season.
Following his NBA D League run, Markeith Cummings played for the Savannah Storm of the East Coast Basketball League for a short period of time.
Let’s skip forward in the timeline a bit; Cummings had been pushed around different countries, starting off in the Philippines, working his way back to the USA, then bounced between Poland and Egypt for a year each. He knew a return to the US would be imminent – and he was right.
On January 26, 2017, Cummings was reacquired by the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA D league, returning to the team for a second stint (last gracing the team in 2015). After appearing in 7 games, he was waived by the team.
Now seeing what it was like to play overseas and in the D League, Markeith could give a great summary of what it was like to play in two completely different scenarios.
D League is a dog eat dog world and it’s pretty much based on politics and also which college you attended. Overseas – if you can play and help their organization win and you’re also a good person on and off the court you keep your job. It’s a true blessing to be able to travel the world and also being able to allow my family to experience the travelling also.
Markeith Cummings had seen a lot of different teams in many different scenarios in four different countries. Some would wonder how he kept his passion and motivation for the game after trying out for different teams. When asked about this, he said it was quite simple, really;
My motivation is my family/friends and most of all my son Markeith Cummings Jr. He turns 5 this year in July . Everything I do is for him to never go without… providing for him and have all of the things I couldn’t get when I was growing up.
Next on Markeith Cummings journey was a one year stop to Lebanon, where he played 9 games averaging 18.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in those games. He joined the team Champville SC after a month of negotiation following his departure from the Skyforce.
A few months later, Markeith returned to the Philippines to play for the Kia Picanto of the PBA. The reason he came back for a second round in the PBA? “All of my Philippines stints were memorable because of the love I get from the fans.” In this short run at the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup, he averaged 27.3 points in seven games.
After the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup, Cummings joined the Seoul Samsung Thunders of the Korean Basketball league in September. Next year in March, he left Korea after playing 53 games and signed with Panionios of the Greek Basketball League for the rest of the season (eight games). He proved that despite playing for different teams he still was passionate about the game that gave him his wonderful career. He averaged 19.3 points and 17.1 points in each league respectively.
Number #2 had seen three new teams after his return to the USA, and in that period returned to the PBA for a short stint. Markeith Cummings signed with the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins of the Japanese B.League, which is his current team to the day.
November 23, 2018, is a day that Markeith Cummings will never forget – the day he scored his professional basketball career high of 42 points, along with two clutch free throws to win the game with two seconds left, 99-97.
Yeah, that was a very tough game but that whole game – I was just in the zone. I’m not the type that looks at stats throughout the game; I just play hard and fight to get the win but I really dind’t even know I had 42 until after the game, one of my teammates came to me and told me but I just focused on doing my job to win. Hate losing.Markeith Cummings on his legendary playbook performance
Despite having to travel halfway around the world to play the sport he loves, Markeith Cummings has put his heart on his sleeve every game and showed every fan that he plays with a tremendous amount of passion.
His story has shown us that no matter what you do; if you strive to be good at it and you keep your passion strong for it, you will succeed.
Player summary page (important career stats): Markeith’s statistics
Author note: We would like to thank Markeith Cummings (@2cummings) for answering all of our questions – he was a true professional in answering the questions and providing us with great information. We wish you all the best of luck going forward with your career.