Defense and guards. That has been the foundation of the Bearcats rebuilt program under Mick Cronin. The one position that the Bearcats haven't been able to recruit particularly well is that hyper athletic wingman. Thats something that every big program has. It might not happen this season but Shaquille Thomas can be that guy.
The hope was that Shaquille Thomas would be that guy last year. That he would get reps, and experience with the reserves before stepping into a bigger role this season. It didn't happen, as Thomas took a red shirt because his transcript got flagged by the NCAA clearinghouse.
This is Thomas's freshman season. While it would be nice for him to have some experience coming into this year, the red shirt might have done him some good. Thomas reported to UC at a less than robust 174 pounds. After a year of effort in the weight room he is now up to 191 pounds. He isn't an Adonis, but his game will certainly benefit from his bigger, stronger body.
The one thing that will have to be defined early on this season is what role he will play. Will he take over the Justin Jackson role as someone who brings energy, effort and excitement to the game off the bench? Or will he be tasked with being the play maker in chief for the bench unit? Thomas has the talent to do just about anything on the basketball court, there is a reason he was a consensus top 100 player in the class of 2011. But for him to make an impact for this team, he will need a defined role to be established early this year.