Cummard Answers Call to Serve LDS Mission First

Arizona's prep basketball Player of the Year, rated the No. 1 shooting guard in the western states by, turned 19 today (Wednesday) and celebrated his decision to delay his BYU enrollment two years until after he serves an LDS mission.

Mesa High School's Lee Cummard, who had earlier indicated he would play one season before serving a Church mission, called BYU basketball coach Steve Cleveland on Monday night to confirm his decision after much soul searching, prayer, scripture study, counsel from his parents, brothers, Bishop and other church leaders.

"The time is right. BYU supported whatever I felt in my heart. I feel in my heart that this is the time to serve," Cummard told Tuesday night.

He said his family had been very supportive throughout the process. Coming from a large, close-knit family, he has relied upon them for guidance and strength. They've responded with their own prayers and support. "They also teased him saying he now "owes us a trip to Maui (Hawaii)," referring to the Maui Invitational that BYU is scheduled to play in next season.

Recognizing also that he would also become a national recruitable prospect or free agent of sorts after 18 months on his mission, Cummard saids he knows other colleges will write and try and sway him again. "They'll be wasting their time. I'm going to be a Cougar. This was a personal decision. My decision to go to BYU hasn't wavered. I'm just going to serve the Lord first. When I come back, I'll play for the Cougars. I'm just as excited about playing for BYU as I am to serve a mission."

Cummard signed with BYU after being heavily recruited by Arizona State, UCLA and other national basketball powerhouse schools.

Noting a two-year layoff from basketball may also affect his considerable skills, David Cummard, his father, maintains: "It's going to mature him. He's a smart player and a good ball player now. He'll be physically and mentally stronger after serving."

Cummard agrees. "My brothers have all put on some weight while serving missions. I expect that I'll do the same."

His mother, Cheryl Cummard, jokingly displayed her only concern for her son: "Lee will put on some weight and lose some hair," adding that "the coaches at BYU are good men. Lee picked the right school. We're very pleased with his decision to go to BYU and to serve a mission. I think BYU is also."

Cummard, Arizona's 4A/5A Player of the Year, will play his last competition game before his LDS mission on April 10 in an Arizona All-Star game.

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