With Deshaun Morman transferring, the Cincinnati Bearcats now have two open scholarships on the men's team. And for a team that returns just about everybody next season, those two scholarships have turned into quite the luxury.
You've probably seen the Bearcats mentioned with a handful of transfers. Personally, I'd prefer they take a fifth-year guy who can transfer and play right away. And I don't care what position that guy plays as long as he's someone who's already established he knows how to play college basketball at the division one level. Next year's squad is set up to be one of the best in the Cronin era, and adding someone who doesn't need to "buy in" - someone that can contribute right away - would be a huge boon for the Bearcats.
With that said, I'm not sure there are many guys left that fit the bill. Guys from schools all over (Kansas State, Missouri State and Cleveland State just to name a few) are hot commodities on the fifth-year transfer circuit. And schools not named Cincinnati have been gobbling them up so far.
I'm not an inside info guy, so I don't know if that's because Mick's failed to close on some of these targets or if he really didn't pursue them all that hard. If there's anyone that preaches and believes in a "system", it's Mick Cronin. And if someone doesn't fit that system - no matter how talented - he's not likely to pull the trigger and bring them in.
So with the fifth-year transfer seemingly out of the way, it appears Cronin has a few options:
- Find a JUCO to slide right in next year
- Find an unsigned high school kid
- Grab a transfer from another school and let him sit a year at UC
If they're not going to go the fifth-year transfer route, my preference is for the Bearcats to grab a big man since the depth on the frontline doesn't look great after both Octavius Ellis and Coreontae Deberry are lost to graduation next year.
Is there a JUCO out there that could help this team over the next two years? Of the top 20 guys that haven't committed somewhere, it seems like Cincinnati's only involved with one guy - PF Deshawn Freeman (6'7"; 200 lbs). If Cronin and crew think he can help build depth and bridge the gap the following year, I'm all for it.
Again, I don't have any inside info, so there could be movement behind the scenes on other JUCO guys.
If not a JUCO, then maybe they'll grab an unsigned high school kid. 6'10" Ebuka Izundu originally committed to Charlotte but is back on the market. It appears he has interest in the Bearcats, but he's now receiving looks from the likes of Kentucky and Kansas. This one would be a coup at this point, but I love this kid's frame and skill set. And so do many other schools, it appears.
I could also see the Cronin taking a transfer even if that kid has to sit out a year. Again, my preference would be for a big man, but we'll see what materializes.
I'd imagine the Bearcats will pull the trigger on one of the scholarships for sure this year. While next year's team doesn't need a new piece in order to be successful, it'd be nice to build depth and maybe add a surprise. What they'll do with that second scholarship, though, is anyone's guess. Would you be upset if they pocketed it for the 2016 class?