#18 Cincinnati Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Cincinnati Bearcats
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #18
Conference Rank: #2 American
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Cincinnati reached the NCAA Tournament and won a game last year, but they will have higher expectations in 2017-2018. The Bearcats return three double digit scorers and more than enough depth to compete for an American Athletic Conference title. Jacob Evans led the team with 13.5 points per game and connected on 41.8 percent of his three-point attempts. Evans should be in for a big season and could emerge as a conference Player of the Year candidate.
2016-17 Record: 30-6, 16-2
2016-17 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mick Cronin
Coach Record: 237-135 at Cincinnati, 306-159 overall
Who’s Out:
Losing Troy Caupain is a big deal. He did not have the best senior season, but he still averaged 10.5 points and 4.6 assists. He leaves a big hole at the point guard position and has been a great leader for the Bearcats over the last few years. Another guard, Kevin Johnson, also needs to be replaced. He started all 36 games last season and averaged 7.9 points per game. He was a dangerous offensive weapon when his shot was falling. Quadri Moore provided some frontcourt depth and averaged 2.9 points and 1.4 rebounds.
Who’s In:
Cane Broome comes to Cincinnati from Sacred Heart where he averaged 23.1 points per game two years ago. With the Bearcats he will spend more time running the show, but of course the 6-0 junior can score too. Freshmen Keith Williams, Trevor Moore and Sam Martin will add more perimeter options. Williams is a talented combo guard who has a bright future and Moore could make an impact right away if his shots are falling. The frontcourt will benefit from the addition of Mamoudou Diarra and Eliel Nsoseme. Diarra originally committed to Washington and Nsoseme has a ton of potential, although it will likely be a year or two before he is ready for major minutes.
Who to Watch:
In the meantime, the frontcourt will be manned by Kyle Washington and Gary Clark. Those two blocked 42 shots each and provide a very dangerous frontcourt on both ends of the floor. Washington was more productive on the offensive end and delivers a bit of an outside shooting threat. Clark can knock down some shots too, but he was very inconsistent last year. Clark will stay in the paint more often and is certainly capable of scoring inside on a consistent basis. Sophomores Tre Scott and Nysier Brooks will join the newcomers providing depth behind Washington and Clark. On the perimeter, Jarron Cumberland is poised for a big sophomore season. He was the team’s sixth man last year and averaged 8.3 points per game off the bench. He will step into Johnson’s starting job.
Final Projection:
Justin Jenifer could be one of the more important players on the roster this year. He has been the backup to Caupain and now it could be his time to step into a starting role. He dished out 68 assists in 35 games last season, while committing just 16 turnovers. He will have to compete with Broome, but Jenifer will see plenty of time on the floor whether he is starting or not. If he can keep up that production while seeing more playing time, Cincinnati will have two point guards that can do more than just replace Caupain. And with Cumberland ready for a breakout campaign, the Cincinnati backcourt could be better even with the loss of two starters.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Cane Broome, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Jarron Cumberland, Sophomore, Guard, 8.3 points per game
Jacob Evans, Junior, Guard, 13.5 points per game
Gary Clark, Senior, Forward, 10.8 points per game
Kyle Washington, Senior, Forward, 12.9 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.3 (148th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.3 (8, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.8 (97, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.8 (9, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (177, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.5 (200, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.6 (229, 7)
Rebound Margin: 4.5 (44, 3)
Assists Per Game: 15.5 (53, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.0 (6, 2)
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#145 Keith Williams