Even if the Cincinnati Bearcats will be in a “rebuilding” year during the 2018-19 season, that doesn’t mean they’re not going to be out there trying to win. In that way, there is more reloading going on after saying goodbye to Gary Clark and Kyle Washington and the presumed departure of Jacob Evans, who entered the NBA Draft. Over the weekend, the Bearcats bolstered their roster for next season by adding JUCO transfer Rashawn Fredericks.
As a sophomore with Motlow State, Fredericks was a certified superstar. According to Bearcat Journal, he was posting 17.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, while also blocking 1.5 shots each time on the floor. At 6’6, Fredericks, who is originally from Tampa, Florida, has the size to be a dominant wing player for the Bearcats, as he has exhibited not only an ability to fill up the cup, but clean the glass and protect the rim.
With immediate eligibility, you’d have to assume that Mick Cronin is going to work Fredericks into the rotation immediately. That means the Bearcats could be trotting out a starting lineup of Jarron Cumberland, Cane Broome, Tre Scott, Justin Jenifer and Fredericks. But that’s just based on the leaders in minutes played last year. There’s a debate about whether or not Jenifer and Broome should be in the same lineup, as both run the point, but if you switch one of them with Nysier Brooks or Trevor Moore if Cronin wants to go small, that’s still a pretty strong defensive group with surprising offensive pop.
Fredericks’ addition also shows that Cronin and his staff are going all in on a bit of a strategic change. Last year the team ran through its bigs because of how good Clark and Washington were. Evans and Cumberland also were difference makers, but the team went as their two star front court performers went. Now, the Bearcats have a slew of wing scorers led by Cumberland, Fredericks, Moore and let’s not forget Keith Williams. Plus Broome is another guy that can get his own shot and score in bunches, while Jenifer is a better shooter than you think. Meanwhile, the guys down low will probably be asked to do much less on offense and be tasked with putting all their efforts into cleaning the boards and defending at a high level.
In a way, the makeup of the roster provides evidence that the Bearcats are embracing the recent trend toward (buzzword incoming) positionless basketball. Cronin will be able to mix and match his lineups, as players like Fredericks, Scott and Moore can play multiple positions and adjust to whatever another team may throw at them. Really, there’s an argument to be made for so many different starting lineups because the team is still deep and filled with mutli-faceted players.
Next year’s squad is probably not going to earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. You don’t lose a guy like Clark, let alone Clark, Washington and Evans and just come back stronger. But the Bearcats are building a team that will still win games, just with a different style.