Remembering A Guy is a new series I'm gonna start doing in the summer where I take the time to remember a guy. Most of these will not be guys you already remember, and I guess that's kinda the beauty of it.
Remember Pat Cummings? He played forward in Clifton from 1974 to 1979, which was a weird, black hole of a period in Cincinnati hoops history. Everyone knows the dynasty in the late '50s to mid-'60s and everyone knows the '90s and early '00s. In fact, essentially all of UC's basketball success occurs in those periods.
The Bearcats have 32 total NCAA Tournament appearances in their history. An astonishing 29 of them occurred from 1958 to 1966 and from 1992 to 2018. Those final three--the ones that nobody ever talks about--are in 1975, 1976, and 1977, the Pat Cummings Era.
One could argue Cummings is the most underrated player in Bearcat history. He's probably going up against Jack Twyman in this category but Twyman (1) has his jersey retired and (2) played in the '50s. The fact that Cummings isn't more recognized among UC fans is kind of a shame.
The Bearcats have a long history of great players, but the 6'9" Cummings was surely the nicest.
Cummings currently sits at #7 on the career scoring list for UC, but was #2 behind Oscar when he graduated. His career .581 shooting percentage is just a hair behind Kenyon Martin for #1 in the UC record books, and Cummings did it while being a volume scorer. He's also #2 in career field goals made with 756, trailing only Oscar Robertson's unbreakable 1,052. The only player in the last 30 years to come within 100 field goals of Cummings was Sean Kilpatrick and his 707 career buckets.
In addition to incredible career benchmarks, Cummings had some of the best individual seasons in program history. As a freshman and sophomore in 1974-75 and 1975-76, Cummings helped pilot the Bearcats to their first tournament appearances in nearly a decade. He missed the entire 1976-77 season with a broken leg and the 'Cats made their final tournament appearance until 1992 without him. Coming back from injury in 1977-78, Cummings was dominant. He shot an absurd 212-for-330 as a junior, good for a program-record .642 FG% that still stands 40 years later.
Cummings' senior year is arguably the most dominant single season by anyone not named Oscar. Playing on a middling team that would finish just 13-14, he averaged 24.5 points that season, nearly tied for the non-Oscar record with Jack Twyman. He also averaged 11 rebounds. The team played 27 games that year and Cummings led them in scoring 25 times and led them in scoring and rebounding 21 times. He won Metro Conference Player of the Year. That team wasn't great, but Pat carried them on his back.
In those days there was a strange NBA Draft rule that allowed teams to select players before their senior season while allowing them to return to college to finish their careers. Pat Cummings' incredible senior campaign came after he'd been drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the third round of the '78 draft. (A player named Larry Bird was also selected in the '78 draft under this rule.)
Cummings' NBA career wasn't remarkable, but it was long and successful. He played 12 years for five different teams, averaging a career 9.6 points and 5.6 rebounds. The most notable piece of trivia about his career may be that he started in the Miami Heat's first ever game as an expansion franchise in 1988.
His long playing career stretched from his freshman season in the fall of 1974 until his final season as a member of the Wichita Falls Texans of the Continental Basketball Association in 1993.
Cummings died unexpectedly in June 2012 after a suffering a heart attack in his apartment in Greenwich Village, New York. He was just 55 years old.