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Justin Jenifer Season in Review

The first year in Cincinnati was not a roaring success for the Baltimore native, but there was enough of a silver lining to expect big things in the years to come.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

  • 2.4 points, 11.4 per 40 minutes
  • 1.3 assists, 5.9 per 40 minutes
  • 0.5 steals, 2.4 per 40 minutes
  • .362/.333/.700 shooting splits
Justin Jenifer and Jacob Evans were the marquee freshmen of the 2015-16 recruiting class. While Evans improved all season and eventually became an important piece of the puzzle, Jenifer faded a bit into the background. Mick Cronin clearly wanted to get his young guys into the fire early on, especially as Cincinnati ripped the hearts out of opponents during the first four or five games. Jenifer benefited from that, playing at least 11 minutes in five of the first six contests. In the first four games, he hit 19 minutes twice and averaged 8.3 points and 3.3 assists per game.

After such a solid start, Jenifer hit a wall and stopped getting the call from the bench to spell Troy Caupain and other members of the UC backcourt. He ended up averaging only 2.4 points and 1.3 assists per game, while finishing with just 232 minutes played. Let's not cry bust though. Caupain is a bulldog who never wants to be off the court and, generally, Cronin doesn't want him to be either. Being a backup to a player like that makes it tough to get the minutes needed to work out issues and get comfortable.

While his scoring was so-so, Jenifer did show a lot in terms of passing. Averaging 1.3 assists per game while playing just 8.6 minutes each time out is no easy feat. Projected over 40 minutes, that's a 5.9 per game average, which is better than Caupain has ever put forth in his three seasons.  Additionally, Jenifer showed the quick hands needed to excel in a UC defense, averaging 2.4 steals per 40 minutes.

The Best of the Best

Sunday November 15 vs. Robert Morris

When the buzzer sounded on this one, UC fans were ready to crown Jenifer the next Chris Paul. Jenifer put on a clinic, scoring 11 points on perfect efforts from the floor (2-of-2) and the free-throw line (6-of-6) while dishing out nine assists. Both of those marks remain his career highs, which he never flirted with again the rest of the season.

For Next Year

Due to the expectations put on his shoulders, which only got heavier after that game against Robert Morris, Jenifer may be unfairly judged. He did plenty of good things in his first season at the college level and the Bearcats have a lot to be hopeful for. He can pass and defend. That is clear. It is concerning that he did not play in the last three games of the season and scored only three points once February came around, but after a year of learning the ropes, Jenifer should be ready to start stringing together more Robert Morris-type games.