SSU’s Cummins wins MSC Female Student-Athlete of Year

PORTSMOUTH — Bailey Cummins’ college basketball career has already had enough accomplishments to make her a surefire Hall of Famer in the future.

However, just for good measure, Cummins has added the cherry on top to her mantle.

Following a career that saw the senior guard lead Shawnee State to 126 victories while becoming the women’s basketball program’s all-time career leader in six different categories and finish inside the program’s top dozen in 10 additional lists, Cummins was officially named as the Mid-South Conference’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year for the 2019-20 season.

“It means so much that I am being recognized out of so many great athletes that are part of the Mid-South,” Cummins said. “I have so many people that have helped and influenced me along the way, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I hope that my coaches, teammates, friends and family realize what all they have done for me and what it means. It truly is an honor to receive this award.”

The 2019-20 Mid-South Conference Player of the Year and NAIA Division I First-Team All-American never averaged below 11 points, 3.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals in any season prior to her senior year and had already eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau by the midway point of her junior year.

However, even by her own lofty standards, Cummins’ senior year was one for the history books.

Fueled by a desire to lead the Bears back to the mountaintop of the MSC, Cummins went on a mission akin to a wrecking ball in her senior year, averaging career-highs of 18.7 points, 5.6 assists and two steals per game on outstanding efficiency by shooting a career-best 52.3-percent from the field and 36.7-percent from long range.

For the season, Cummins led the MSC in assists, assists per game and scoring and finished second in points per game, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage (88.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.89-to-1).

She also tallied four of the conference’s eight highest scoring performances and had four of the conference’s seven 10-or-more assist showings during the 2019-20 season.

Two of her top performances came in SSU’s biggest games of the year — a 103-101 double-overtime victory over Campbellsville on Feb. 6 where Cummins scored 39 points and had 10 assists, and the MSC Championship Game, where Cummins posted 31 points and eight rebounds in a 81-72 victory over Thomas More, leading SSU to a 29-4 record and its fifth MSC Tournament Championship in six years in the process.

“Bailey’s talent is her ability to create followers and a winning culture,” Shawnee State women’s basketball coach Jeff Nickel said. “She has an inner drive to help everyone she encounters to succeed. Her competitiveness allowed her to blossom into a very talented team leader and captain.”

“Bailey’s journey demonstrates the importance athletics can play in a student’s development and maturity,” Shawnee State Athletic Director Jeff Hamilton said. “She became the true leader and captain of her championship basketball team prior to her senior season. This was clearly evident on and off the floor. She has shown tremendous growth during her four years. All coaches would love to have Bailey represent their programs. This is a great example of finding the right fit and then taking full advantage of the opportunity given. This includes stepping out of her comfort zone to become more vocal, confident and demonstrating what a great teammate should be.”

While her basketball success was clear, Cummins’ efforts off of the floor were also impressive.

The 2020 graduate, who obtained a degree in biomedical sciences, notched a 3.44 GPA in the classroom while working Shawnee State youth basketball camps for four years, serving as a three-year member of Shawnee State’s Pre-Med and Tri-Beta clubs, and volunteering at Alkali Creek Elementary School during Shawnee State’s NAIA National Championship trips to Billings, Mont. as part of the NAIA Champions of Character program.

“Bailey has epitomized the meaning of what it means to be a student-athlete,” Nickel said. “I have known Bailey for about five years, and her personality, servant leadership and character have all made an immediate impact on our entire team and campus. Bailey’s personality and character long preceded her time at Shawnee State, and her ability to stay true to her upbringing has also made her one of our most recognizable student-athletes at SSU.”

For her career, Cummins finished with 1,892 points, 656 assists and 537 rebounds — while earning NAIA All-American honors three times during her four-year career at SSU.

Cummins earned all-MSC billing and academic all-MSC honors in each season that she was eligible for the award, obtaining first-team all-MSC accolades during each of her last three seasons on the court.

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