Things have not exactly gone according to plan for Cincinnati football. Gunner Kiel is injured and out this week while the Bearcats are just 2-2 on the season and off to an 0-2 start in the American Athletic Conference. That is not exactly the standing that was imagined for them this summer.
But let's take a break from second-guessing and drowning in disappointment and take some time to smell the roses; to look for a silver lining; to start getting optimistic about another Cincinnati squad. The Bearcats are poised to be even better in basketball than they were supposed to be in football and helping that cause is an infusion of talent, as well as the wealth of experience that has been touched on ad nauseam.
Let's circle back to that infusion of talent quickly. While Mick Cronin did not gather a collection of recruits in the same stratosphere as Kentucky or Duke this year, the Bearcats' boss brought in three quality players that should be excellent fits in his system. With a glut of returning talent from a team that won 23 games and hung with No. 1 seed Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, the Bearcats don't exactly need a top flight recruiting class.
We've already gotten to know the first two players from the class (Justin Jenifer and Tre Scott), but the crown jewel of what 247Sports has ranked as the 57th-best class in the country and sixth in the American Athletic Conference is Jacob Evans III. That ranking may not sound great, but remember, Cincinnati has most of its roster spots filled, so plugging in a bunch of new players was not a major priority.
However, that did not stop Cronin from going out and signing Evans III, who could be the next household name in Cincinnati. A 4-star recruit according to 247Sports and the No. 2 player from Louisiana, Evans is listed as a forward, but he has the ability to swing between the two-guard post and could even get some time at power forward should the Bearcats go small.
Evans played his high school ball at St. Michael's the Archangel and was one of the most honored players in the state, as he was nominated for Gatorade Player of the Year, McDonald's All-American and Louisiana Mr. Basketball honors as a senior. Why did he get so much praise? Perhaps it was his otherworldly stat line (24.9 ppg, 9 rpg, 4.8 apg) or maybe it was the fact that he pushed St. Michael's the Archangel to a 29-4 record and its first trip to the Class 4A state championship semifinals.
Tabbed as one of the complete offensive players in the 2015 class, Evans is not your typical Cincinnati recruit, as his offense is leaps and bounds ahead of his defensive acumen. Cronin will obviously forge him in fire on the defensive end, but it will be nice to have a player that has already developed a strong offensive game.
Before settling on Cincinnati, Evans was courted by a number of programs. He spurned advances from some local schools like LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane, and also turned down Memphis and Alabama. Their loss will be Cincinnati's gain, as the 6-foot-6 Evans could be the next coming of, well I don't want to say Oscar Robertson, so I won't. But feel free to watch him in action and say so yourself.