Cincinnati basketball had a disappointing finish to their 2015-16 campaign, but that doesn't mean we can't look to the 2016-17 season with optimism. The Bearcats are only losing four seniors, and while Octavius Ellis, Farad Cobb, Coreontae DeBerry and Shaq Thomas will certainly be missed, the future is bright with a returning core of Troy Caupain, Jacob Evans and Gary Clark, along with new faces like incoming freshman Jarron Cumberland and NC State transfer Kyle Washington.
That said, the one player who really seemed to heat up as we reached the final stretch of this season was Evans, who was listed by CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein as one of the top five potential breakout players for next season.
Evans, who saw his usage gradually increase over the course of the season, averaged 8.4 points per game for the Bearcats as a freshman and added 4.1 rebounds per game to go along with 1.6 assists. He was Cincinnati's second-best free throw shooter, knocking down 80.4% of his attempts (behind Cobb), and was a valuable three-point shooter on a team that struggled to score points.
That scoring prowess was put on display over Cincinnati's final six games where Evans scored double-digits in four of them, capped off with his 26-point outburst in the NCAA tournament against Saint Joseph's where he also secured nine rebounds.
Rothstein calls Evans a "gifted offensive player" and says "this kid will be a multi-year all-conference player for Mick Cronin." It's a sentiment that is widely shared amongst Bearcats fans and it shouldn't be a surprise if Evans makes a big statistical jump in his sophomore year, especially with more time out on the floor and a year under his belt.
For all the talk about Cincinnati's struggles offensively, the return of Evans certainly helps remedy those concerns. Factor in Caupain, Clark and another 6-foot-4 scorer in Cumberland and the Bearcats could be exciting to watch offensively come next season.