Mick Cronin has himself a little dilemma right now. Seeing that the NCAA limits mens basketball programs to just 13 scholarships (15 for women), should everyone who has eligibility return plus the five players who have committed keep their commitments, the Bearcats are at 14 players...and someone is going to be shown the door.
It's not a fun situation for anyone. The players know. The coaches know. But it's a common occurrence in today's landscape. It's a ridiculously cut-throat business and everyone knows the deal. But it's still not fun for those involved, especially if you're the one on the outside looking in. So sadly someone who wants to be a Bearcat is not going to have their wish come true. Who that is remains to be seen, but we can at least discuss it.
I'm going to go player by player in no certain order because I haven't the slightest clue who is going to be asked to leave. Here goes...
- Sean Kilpatrick - will be a senior (finally) this year. He is already 23 years old and has a daughter to provide for. His draft stock is pretty much nothing at this point despite his ability to score. The only way I see him leaving is if he needs money and wants to go overseas, which is something he will likely end up doing eventually anyway. Still, I can't see him leaving.
- Ge-Lawn Guyn - will be a 22-year-old junior at season's beginning and the heir apparent to Cashmere Wright. Can't see him leaving as he likely begins the season as the starting point guard.
- Jermaine Sanders - really showed positive signs of the scorer we were told he was coming into the program. Still has a tendency to disappear but looked for his shot a lot more in the second half of the year. Don't think he'll start, but he'll get good minutes next year.
- Shaquille Thomas - unless Mick hits his head and loses his mind, Shaq is going nowhere. Most upside of anyone on the current roster.
- Jeremiah Davis III - nobody is ever going to admit they "suggested" to JDIII that he'd be wise to redshirt/be injured this season so he wouldn't waste a whole year sitting on the bench like Jaquon Parker did his sophomore season. In my opinion it would be a very bad move to have a guy sit out a year then ask him to go to another program where he'd have to sit out another year by NCAA transfer rules. Plus, JDIII makes things happen when he's in the game. Sure he has to work on his jumper and defense, but from what I've seen he just has a nose for the ball and making winning plays.
- Justin Jackson - still hasn't "gotten it" but is a 100% effort player wildly popular with fans and willing to do the dirty work. Not a great scorer (never will be) but good enough defender and rebounder. Plus, he may have to start at center
- Titus Rubles - it's often been said JUCO players don't have a great impact until their second year. Hopefully this holds true because as frustrating as Titus can be, he still shows flashes of being a very capable scorer. He already rebounds and passes very well. If they can just get his turnovers under control...
- Kelvin Gaines - I just don't know what to make of this guy. When I watch him at times I see a spectacular athlete. Other times I wonder if he knows what a basketball is. I still cannot see them giving up on a guy with such athleticism and shot blocking skills.
- David Nyarsuk - I'll admit it. I fell for the hype. When I first heard the rumor about a 7' 1" big man who could run the floor, block shots, and score I should have known it was too good to be true. Yes, he showed some flashes and you could say he won the Pitt game on the road with big rebounds and putbacks, but at least in my eyes he was a disappointment. He wasn't as athletic as we were led to believe and he doesn't have very good hands. Still, it's hard to give up height and he's certainly got that.
- Jermaine Lawrence - nothing needed to be said...unless St. John's swoops in like they've done before. Lawrence is arguably the biggest and best recruit Mick has gotten to commit to UC.
- Troy Caupain - expected to come in right away and compete with Guyn for the starting point guard spot. Signed his National Letter of Intent in November.
- Kevin Johnson - Division III player of the year in Ohio the last two years. He's going nowhere but Clifton. Also signed his NLI in November.
- Jamaree Strickland - perhaps the least celebrated of the 5-man class but he could be the most important. As all Bearcat fans know, low post scoring was a huge problem this past season. So it's vital UC recruit and develop some kind of low post option if for nothing else but keeping defenses honest. Everyone knew UC was a perimeter team this year and it hurt them in the end. Strickland was being recruited by some heavy hitters before he suffered the knee injury. Maybe Mick found a steal. He also has signed his NLI and will be a Bearcat.
- Deshaun Morman - I hate to speculate concerning grades, but this appears to be the biggest question mark of the bunch. He has yet to qualify and it's an on-going process. No one is really talking whether he's going to make grades or not, but obviously if he doesn't then UC is off the hook in a way and won't have to politely invite someone to move along. Sure, they don't want to lose a player with Morman's potential, but they may not have a choice.
So there you have it. Nearly 1000 words and still no resolution to UC's current scholarship problem. Oh, and add this nugget that UC never stops recruiting and if they should happen to find a "lights out scorer" over the summer, then perhaps if Morman does qualify UC will be asking two players to find new homes.......it's a jumbled up mess. But I'm not the one getting paid to make such decisions so I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. But it will certainly be interesting. You never want to see anyone forced out so hopefully it's a "mutual decision" (wink wink).