It takes players to build a successful campaign and it would be folly to call the Cincinnati Bearcats’ 2016-17 campaign anything but a success, even if is still ongoing. We have kept tabs on what players have been the most important to the cause all season, noting the fluidity of play during a season, with players going through stretches of heat and droughts of cold. The American Athletic Conference did so as well with their weekly awards, but on Tuesday it began to dole out the accolades for the entire campaign, naming the first and second all-conference teams as well as the all-rookie squad.
Three Bearcats managed to make their way onto at least one of those teams. Senior point guard Troy Caupain was named to the second team, as was junior forward Kyle Washington. Meanwhile, Jarron Cumberland was placed on the all-rookie team.
Caupain was tagged as the preseason AAC Player of the Year but didn’t really live up to that hype. His three-point shooting was worse than a year ago and his scoring average dropped by more than three points per game. Still, he was the undisputed leader of the roster and still averaged 9.8 points, a career-high 4.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game, which was enough to warrant recognition. Even if the AAC doesn’t recognize it, UC goes as Caupain goes.
Washington opened the season and looked like a shoe-in for the AAC POTY award as he had three double-doubles in the first five games. Although his pace of play settled to a less Herculean level, he still produced at an elevated one, averaging 13.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, while shooting 50.8 percent from the floor, which led the AAC.
Cumberland’s legend has only grown since he was tabbed as a recruiting coup for Mick Cronin. He has been a regular in the rotation pretty much all season, playing for at least 20 minutes 15 times while averaging 18 per game. His shooting splits were just fine, especially for a freshman (.484/.359/.653) even if his free-throw shooting needs considerable improvement, especially for a player that drives to the rim so frequently. Even though he averaged a mere 7.8 points per game overall, he boosted his efforts in league play and recorded a mark of 8.8 against conference foes. Plus, who could forget what he did against Xavier?
Noticeably absent from these all-conference teams are Jacob Evans and Gary Clark. Evans, like Washington, started off the season on a scorching pace and even if he didn’t keep putting up 20 points every night, he still finished as the team’s leading scorer (13.4 PPG) while posting a PER of 21.9. Clark, last year’s AAC Defensive Player of the Year, took a bit of a step back in terms of production, as he scored at the same rate as 2016 (10.4 PPG) but rebounded less (7.9 PG vs. 8.8 PG) and blocked fewer shots (1.5 vs. 1.1). However, he improved his offensive game, shooting a career-high 53.6 percent from the field. Perhaps that’s not enough to get on an all-conference team, but its still worth mentioning that UC had more than just a few players that could have been honored.