Even on a team that is replacing three key contributors from last season, breaking into the rotation for the Cincinnati Bearcats is going to be tough for a newcomer this season. There are still recruits fortifying the roster, however, and with three true freshmen incoming, UC is building toward the future as it tries to keep an even course.
Enter LaQuill Hardnett, who is one of the newcomers to the UC program and more than likely a contributor who will be making more noise years from now rather than this season. But that doesn’t mean he is going to hibernate until his chance arrives. In the last few seasons, true freshmen have still had a role on the team for the Bearcats, even if it has slowly diminished once the conference season kicks into gear. So let’s get to know Hardnett and what to expect both this year.
Hailing from Philadelphia, Hardnett is a 6’8” small forward who is versatile enough to play small forward but will probably get time at the four as he develops. The Bearcats have a lot of depth up front right now, and Hardnett provides even more punch to that part of the roster.
As for what he brings to the table other than some positional flexibility, Hardnett has some raw offensive gifts and the frame to develop into a solid defender as he is tutored in the Mick Cronin system. He is also a gifted rebounder who can chase down lose balls. He had 13 double-doubles during his senior year of high school and averaged roughly 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. On top of that, he averaged four assists per game. Whether or not that production continues is to be seen, but such unselfish play could go a long way in allowing UC to keep up with a constantly improving offensive baseline in the college game.
Like I said, even with all his skills, it may be a while before Hardnett makes a major impact for the Bearcats. Hardnett didn’t play all that much in the Bearcats’ summer jaunt through Canada, logging just a handful of minutes during which he did not score a single point or really accumulate many statistics at all. That’s probably what we can expect from him this season, but that doesn’t mean he will be warming the bench forever. Ideally, the lessons he learns this season will go a long way toward turning him into a star for the team in 2020 and beyond.