When Jamaree Strickland committed to Mick Cronin and UC last fall, Bearcat Nation let out a big "who????" Aside from those who are on the AAU circuit all summer or extremely well connected, no one had ever heard of this kid before. That's not to say he's not a good player. He just fell under the radar a bit due to an ACL injury that forced him to miss two full years of basketball.
Before said ACL injury, Strickland was garnering attention from a number of major programs across the country. But missing two years of play will all but kill any momentum you have toward gaining a scholarship. So, he decided to attend a year of prep school in Charlotte where he caught the eye of UC coaches who were desperate to find a post player to replace outgoing Cheikh Mbodj.
Whether the left-handed Strickland is going to be able to step in and play right away is still up in the air. Reports from Summer League (take them for what they're worth) have Strickland as a bit out of shape and tentative.
I know some are saying Troy Caupain and Jermaine Lawrence are guys who could steal time immediately, but in my opinion given the state of UC's big men, Strickland could see time just as soon. Consider, Caupain will be battling junior Ge'Lawn Guyn for the point guard spot. Lawrence will be battling Shaq Thomas, Titus Rubles, and likely Jermaine Sanders for time at the 3 or 4 spots.
Strickland isn't necessarily going up against 3-year starters. Justin Jackson is foul prone and severely challenged on offense. David Nyarsuk has reportedly gained 30 pounds which is outstanding if true, but will he be able to keep up with the pace of the game. It seemed he was ok before conference play began last season, but once the Big East schedule started, he was pretty much lost. So, if he is in proper shape (big if), Strickland could surprise everyone and steal some time.
If nothing else, he has the size and over the past year has gained some valuable experience back on the court not only touring the U.S. but also playing overseas with the USA Elite under-23 team in France. Obviously that's better than missing another season due to injury. UC's history with big men of late hasn't been that great. Yancy Gates was frustrating, but he was much better than Cheikh Mbodj. If nothing else, at least the bar isn't set so high to intimidate Strickland.