Jarron Cumberland proved a lot of things as a freshman. As he prepares for his sophomore campaign, there are still things he will have to show to the college basketball watching world. In fact, in the eyes of CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, Cumberland is one top players in the country with something to prove in 2017.
So what has Cumberland already done? Firstly, he’s proven that he can play at the collegiate level in a meaningful way. He was easily one of the best sixth men in the American Athletic Conference, if not the country, providing a ton of efficient scoring from inside and outside the arc. He averaged 8.3 points per game while playing 19.1 minutes at a time. When his numbers are projected out over 40 minutes, he would have averaged a solid 17.5 points an outing.
That brings us to the second thing he has already checked off his to do list. Exhibiting efficient and prolific scoring ability. By making 49.3 percent of his shots overall and nearly 65 percent from two-point range, Cumberland finished his freshman campaign with stunning numbers in PER (21.7) as well as true (.604) and effective field goal percentage (.587). His three-point attempt rate (.532) was also rather elevated, but he hit more than enough to make that a good thing, while being one of the few players on the team that wasn’t afraid to put the ball on the deck and drive into the lane. Just look at this drive against Xavier. Nobody is stopping Cumberland when he decides he’s going to the rim.
Speaking of Xavier, Cumberland also illustrated some panache when it comes to big-time games. Against the villains of the Crosstown Shootout, Cumberland was not phased, scoring 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He also scored 15 points in UC’s NCAA Tournament loss to UCLA and had at least 10 points in six of the last nine games of the season. He had nine in each of the other two.
So Cumberland established that he could be an effective scorer off the bench. That’s clear. No debating it. Thanks for coming.
What he has to do now is prove that he can be a more balanced contributor and do so while transitioning to the starting lineup. Now that Troy Caupain and Kevin Johnson are gone, there are openings among the starters. Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome is going to take Caupain’s spot and Cumberland makes sense as the fill in for Johnson. That will put a lot of scorers on the floor. Broome, Cumberland, Jacob Evans and Kyle Washington all demand the ball and have the scoring skill to deserve it. How those four interact, along with how offensively aggressive Gary Clark can be, will play a major role in the 2017-18 season.
For Cumberland, a lot will come down to his ability to defend and know when to share the ball and when to take games over himself. He already showed that he can dish it a little bit, posting the fifth-best assist percentage on the team last year (14.1 percent), but he’ll need to be better. He also was a better defender than you might have realized, securing a team-best 3.1 steal percentage while accumulating 1.3 defensive win shares. Not bad for a reserve, even one as utilized as Cumberland.
When it comes down to it, Cumberland doesn’t really have to prove anything this season. He just has to build on what he’s already done. That alone will be enough to grab the attention he deserves.