We always knew Jarron Cumberland was going to be good. I’m just not certain we knew it would be so quickly and in such big spots. He scored in double figures five times in the first 19 games of the 2016-17 season, but it was not until game 20 that he really arrived. With the Cincinnati Bearcats attempting to end a three-game losing streak to arch rival Xavier, Cumberland contributed 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting in a performance that may not jump off the page, but was impressive for how varied and skilled it was. He knocked down threes and showed no fear working his way to the rim while playing in a rivalry that could have easily eaten him and spit him back out.
Offensive prowess is what Cumberland was always going to bring to the table. He can be a physical player who is willing to put the ball on the deck while having a quick release from beyond the arc as well. As a freshman, the four-star prospect quickly made himself a go-to guy for the offense off the bench. He averaged 8.3 points per game with shooting splits of .493/.355/.644. Projected out over 40 minutes, Cumberland would have averaged 17.5 points per game while his offensive rating trailed only Gary Clark and Jacob Evans among Bearcat players.
His underlying shooting numbers were also stellar, with a true shooting percentage of .602 and an effective field goal percentage of .587 to go with a PER of 21.7. If you’re curious, that last number was better than those of Troy Caupain and behind only Clark, Kyle Washington and Evans on the team.
When it came to the other end of the floor, Cumberland wasn’t a shut down defender, but he did his part and is only going to get better. His 96.4 defensive rating was pretty great for a freshmen, who is still learning to defend at the college level, but he has certainly gone through a bunch of the curriculum already.
Aside from points and defense, Cumberland didn’t add a ton. He averaged just 2.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game, which was fine since Clark, Washington, Nysier Brooks and Tre Scott had the boards on lock (and will again this season) while Caupain and Justin Jenifer did most of the distributing. I’d like to see him make some more passes this season, but not too many since his best skill is scoring.
As he enters his second season, Cumberland is about to see a whole lot more time on the floor. He averaged 19.1 minutes per game last season as a chief reserve, but with Caupain and Kevin Johnson gone, he will not step into a starting role beside Evans, Clark, Washington and Cane Broome. He only played 22 minutes in UC’s exhibition against Bellarmine, but he was part of the starting group and had 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting. But that’s in an exhibition in which just about everyone got more than 10 minutes. Cumberland is part of the extremely bright future for this Bearcats program and that future is now.