Lee Cummard</I>

PROVO — Lee Cummard took 51 days to explore his chances to be a first-round NBA draft pick and then chose on Sunday to return to BYU for his senior year.

Cummard's decision will give BYU coach Dave Rose a cornerstone to rebuild his two-time Mountain West championship team for a run at a three-peat. Cummard, the most accurate shooter in the league last year, shared co-MVP honors with New Mexico's J.R. Giddens.

Another Cougar junior, center Trent Plaisted, locked himself into draft plans and forfeited his senior year of eligibility.

The news on Cummard's choice broke Sunday morning on an ESPN Internet site. Cummard issued a statement later that day.

"There's no doubt that I could be a pro, but right now I think it's best for me to stay in school and delay taking part in the draft until next year," Cummard said.

"I felt good about the feedback I received from my workouts. The process was very positive for me, and I look forward to being part of next year's NBA draft after finishing out my college career at BYU."

Third-year BYU coach Dave Rose told the Deseret News late last week, after an AP story indicated Cummard was leaning towards keeping his name in the draft, that Cummard's game plan was to be a first-round pick and, if he was not, he would return.

"I think that is what will happen," Rose predicted on Friday.

"Lee got great feedback from the teams that watched him play, but he took his name out because he is also really excited to come back and help us try to win another championship," Rose said. "He had a terrific junior year, and I expect he will have a great senior season and be in good position for next year's NBA draft."

Cummard first announced on April 25 that he was entering his name for the NBA Draft but not hiring an agent to maintain his eligibility for his senior season. College underclassmen have until today to pull out of the draft if they want to resume their college careers.

The 6-foot-7 Cummard was the Mountain West Conference Co-Player of the Year and received Associated Press All-America honorable mention this past season as a junior. The do-everything swingman led the Cougars in scoring (15.8), field-goal percentage (.569), three-point percentage (.472) and blocked shots (1.0) while ranking second in rebounds (6.3), assists (3.5), steals (0.9) and free-throw percentage (.857).

A three-year starter and top perimeter defender, Cummard has helped the Cougars achieve a 72-26 (.735) record and three straight postseason invitations, including NCAA Tournament bids the last two years.

Under the tutelage of Rose, Cummard and the Cougars have earned recognition in the top-25 rankings during each of the past two seasons while becoming the first MWC team to achieve back-to-back outright conference championships. The Cougars defeated No. 6 Louisville and earned a 27-8 record in 2007-08, the second-most wins in school history.

Cummard was one of two BYU players to declare for this year's NBA draft. Fellow junior Plaisted, a 6-11 All-MWC First Team center, decided to hire an agent and stay in the draft. Plaisted was second to Cummard in scoring at 15.6 points per game last season.

A native of Mesa, Ariz., Cummard worked out for the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bulls.


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com