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Cumberland Proving to be Legit

The much ballyhooed recruit is morphing into a force for the Bearcats

Marshall v Cincinnati Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Not every highly touted prospect works out. Just because a player dunked on everyone in high school and has a highlight tape that looks more like and And1 Mixtape than video of an AAU game doesn’t always mean he’ll turn into a star.

Although its obviously too early to make a final judgement on Jarron Cumberland, it appears that he will not end up being a dud. A tremendous all-around player with great size in high school, Cumberland has come in and worked through some early growing pains to become a consistent and important threat off the bench for the Cincinnati Bearcats. His role has become even more pronounced as UC has entered league play.

Cumberland, who was a top 100 recruit according to ESPN, is only averaging 6.8 points per game, but he has been extremely efficient in producing points for the cause. He is shooting 47.7 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from 3-point range, sinking 1.1 triples per game. His PER of 23.2 is behind only Kyle Washington, Jacob Evans and Gary Clark among UC players while he is second to Evans in true shooting percentage (.614) and effective field goal percentage (.592). He is also shooting more threes than anyone on the team, leading the way in three-point attempt rate (.554). Such efficient scoring has helped him produce an offensive rating of 127.8, second only to Evans.

As the season has gone on, his playing time has increased, as he has played at least 19 minutes in four of the last five outings. That included a career-high 26 minutes against Tulane which yielded a career-high 19 points from the 6’5” guard. To get those 19 points, Cumberland knocked down 6-of-8 shots from the floor (including all three from long range) and 4-of-6 at the charity stripe, which has been a slight weak point as he is shooting below 70 percent from the free throw line overall. However, Cumberland has made eight of his last 11 foul shots (72.7 percent) so he is trending up in that regard.

As his free throw shooting has improved, his three-point efforts have been scorching hot. He has made 12 of his last 19 tries from beyond the arc (63.2 percent) while averaging 11.2 points per game in that time (five games).

Cumberland has not just been an offensive sparkplug, however. He is averaging 9.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.2 steals per 100 possessions, leading the team in the last category and ranking fourth in helpers. In addition, his defense may not be on the same level as Clark or Tre Scott, but he has a defensive rating of 91.1 in 11 games played. That shows he isn’t just throwing up shots and sagging behind when the ball is with the opponent. That is a critical piece to becoming a trusted contributor in Mick Cronin’s system.

During this recent hot streak, Cumberland has served notice to the rest of the American Athletic Conference that he is a player to be reckoned with. He has won the league’s Rookie of the Week honor twice in the last three weeks and you can just ask Tulane whether or not he can ball.

As conference play continues, specifically this weekend against a stout Houston squad, it will be critical that Cumberland continues to play like he’s been playing. All signs indicate that he will do just that.