There have been 56 Cincinnati Bearcats drafted into the ranks of the NBA. Some of them include long-time NBA stalwarts like Oscar Robertson, Kenyon Martin, Jason Maxiell and Pat Cummings. However, the pool of Bearcats in the league has been diluted recently, with Sean Kilpatrick one of the only players in the NBA to have formerly worn red and black.
However, Kilpatrick wasn’t even drafted. He had to grind his way through the D-League to get to where he is now. The last Bearcat to take a quicker road to the NBA was Lance Stephenson, who was drafted in the second round and 40th overall in 2010 by the Indiana Pacers. Stephenson has enjoyed highs and lows at the professional level and last year played for three teams (Pelicans, Timberwolves and Pacers).
I know I’d like to see more Bearcats make it to the next level and I’d definitely like to watch draft night and see a UC alum shake Adam Silver’s hand wearing the cap of a new franchise. So that got me thinking, specifically after Troy Caupain was passed over this year, who is going to be the next Bearcat drafted? Is he even on the team right now? Caupain was a long shot to be drafted, but is there someone on the team right now that won’t be?
We’ll start with a look at the seniors next year. Chief among them will be Kyle Washington, who did a whole lot to help out his college career, and possibly his draft stock by playing very well as a junior transfer from NC State. Washington is a big man who can score, with a soft touch around the basket and the ability to get some rebounds, shoot well at the free-throw line and block shots. However, his height may play against him, as at 6-foot-9, and without the ability to guard rangier wing players, he may not fit into the style of play that the NBA now favors. He would also need to improve his work on the boards and be a 15-17 point scorer to get the notice of scouts.
Fellow frontcourt mate Gary Clark is an important piece of the UC basketball puzzle as well. He, however, has struggled with being an assertive scorer. That doesn’t mean he can’t make a living in the NBA. There are plenty of big men who are called on to fill the lane, clash the glass and defend. Clark excels in all of those areas and with one more year of development, he could be someone that a team takes a flyer on in the second round, barring a substantial offensive renaissance.
Justin Jenifer and Cane Broome are both point guards with a lot to like in college. Broome can score a ton and Jenifer is a deft distributor. However, both have major shortcomings. Broome, despite averaging 18.7 points per game during his two seasons at Sacred Heart, only shot 44.5 percent from the field and 32.2 percent from three-point range. His PER of 20.7 was solid in 2015-16, but his effective field goal percentage (.508) hovered in a mediocre range. As the NBA continues to thirst for players that can drill three-pointers, Broome could develop into a Lou Williams type, but his efficiency needs to improve a ton before that can happen.
As for Jenifer, at 5’10, he has his work cut out for him, as shorter players don’t always make it. Nate Robinson, Isaiah Thomas and Muggsy Bogues and others all succeeded despite being on the shorter side, but Jenifer’s struggles with shooting and inability to be an impact scorer hamstring his more than capable work as a passer.
Then there are the soon-to-be sophomores like Jarron Cumberland, Nysier Brooks and Tre Scott. Cumberland has the best shot of the three as he showed game-changing scoring ability as a freshman, as well as a willingness to shoot from deep or put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. However, it is far too early to project even Cumberland as a potential NBA player. The same goes for incoming freshman like Trevor Moore.
That leaves us with one option and that is Jacob Evans. A highly touted recruit out of high school, Evans had a decent freshman campaign but it was during this past season that he took a major leap. Scoring 13.6 points per game on .473/.418/.732 shooting, Evans was able to take over games and pour in buckets all while shooting at a high rate, especially from beyond the arc. With two more years ahead of him, there is tons of time for him to improve on a skill set that would already play well in the NBA.
So back to the original question. Who is the next Bearcat poised to be drafted? My money is on Evans.