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Jarron Cumberland Season in Review

Before Cumberland takes over as the No. 1 option for the Bearcats, its time to examine his sophomore season, which was filled with plenty of excellent basketball.

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

  • 11.5 points per game
  • 4.0 rebounds
  • 2.9 assists
  • 1.0 steal
  • .409/.339/.678

Jarron Cumberland has taken on different roles in each of his first two seasons. In 2016-17, as a touted freshman, he was scorer off the bench who played nearly 20 minutes per game. As an encore, he worked his way into the starting lineup beside Jacob Evans, Gary Clark and Kyle Washington and once again was relied on as a primary scorer. We know that he will take on yet another new role next season, but before we get there, let’s take a look at what Cumberland did in 2017-18.

The 6’5” guard is always going to be a scorer first. He was recruited as such a player and he has lived up to that billing. He improved the volume of his scoring as a sophomore, which was expected considering he played nearly 10 minutes more per game. His 11.5 points per game average ranked third on the team behind Evans (13.0) and Clark (12.9). Interestingly enough, however, he actually was a less efficient scorer than his freshman season, as he averaged only 15.9 points per 40 minutes, compared to 17.5 the previous year. On top of that, his shooting was worse, as he only made 40.9 percent of his field goal tries, including 33.9 percent from three. He had marks of 49.3 and 35.5 a year ago. His true shooting and effective field goal percentages all went down as well, while is PER of 16.9 was a nearly five-point drop from 2016-17.

Now before you start rethinking just who Cumberland was as a player, don’t forget that he was playing in fewer high-leverage situations on the second team as a freshman and playing much less often. An increased workload against stiffer competition was always going to deteriorate results from a sparkling yet smaller sample size. In addition, Cumberland showed marked improvement in free-throw shooting, knocking down 67.8 percent from the stripe, up from 64.4 percent as a freshman. For a player that shows no fear barreling down the floor and getting to the rim, continued progress in this area is critical.

With that written, it is still not great that Cumberland’s offensive effectiveness dried up to a degree, leaving the Bearcats without that fourth scorer it needed in some games. But Cumberland did make up for that in other ways. He was a better distributor, while maintaining a similar level of success in terms of ball security. He averaged 4.0 assists per 40 minutes, up for 3.1 as a freshman, while recording a nearly five-point jump in assist percentage. He also had a turnover percentage of 14.0 compared to 12.6. Again, increased chances with the ball made up for some of that increase. He also improved as a rebounder, albeit slightly. All of this is why he still managed 2.1 offensive win shares and a perfectly solid 112.1 offensive rating despite dips in his shooting splits.

While his offensive game took took on a new look, Cumberland’s work on defense got much, much better. He was a decent defender as a freshman but he became a more critical defensive player — and the type of guy that Mick Cronin loves — this past season. His 91.1 defensive rating wasn’t a top mark on the team, but it was better by more than five points from the year before. Additionally, he had more defensive win shares (2.6) than offensive, and finished with 4.8 win shares overall, which ranked third on the team. His DWS ranked third as well.

The Best of the Best

Nov. 13, 2017 vs. Western Carolina

After stuffing the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the season opener, Cumberland brought out the scoring against the Catamounts, netting 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including a 4-of-6 effort from beyond the arc.

Nov. 16, 2017 vs. Coppin State

He nearly recorded a double-double adding nine rebounds and 19 points (as well as three dimes) in a crushing victory.

Dec. 31, 2017 vs. Memphis

Just about everyone had a big game against the Tigers, and Cumberlnd’s 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists was one of the best.

Jan. 13, 2018 at USF

Cumberland hit at least four 3s six times this past season. This was one of those games, as he knocked down 4-of-7 from deep and 3-for-4 from inside the arc to finish with 18 points, his largest scoring output since November.

Feb. 25, 2018 vs. Tulsa

He once again made four threes in this one, but also added eight assists, five rebounds and two steals to his 17-point showing.

March 10, 2018 vs. Memphis

It was in March that Cumberland really showed out. Although he did not score in UC’s first game of the American Athletic Conference Tournament, he followed it up with 18 points and five assists in the semifinal against the Tigers.

March 16, 2018 vs. Georgia State

The 15-seed Panthers gave the Bearcats more of a challenge than expected, but Cumberland was right there to douse the NCAA Tournament upset attempt, pouring in a career-high 27 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. He scored 16 points in the first half when GSU was making a ridiculous number of tough shots and that ensured UC was able to pull away in the second.

March 18, 2017 vs. Nevada

Cumberland was supposed to be a hero in this one, and he was early on, but he eventually fouled out and shot poorly down the stretch. He scored 13 points in the first half, including a 3-for-4 showing from three-point range. But he finished with 17 points. Still, it was an overall strong performance, even if the final result was negative.

For Next Year

Cumberland might have the most specific marching orders for next season. While other guys we have looked at need to make important and incremental improvements, Cumberland has the difficult task of becoming the leader of this squad. He has the chops to do it, especially with what he showed in the NCAA Tournament. His workload is going to increase by quite a bit, meaning his efficiency needs to be better or the Bearcats could be in for an even steeper offensive decline than it will already endure without Evans, Clark and Washington. In addition to making more buckets, Cumberland needs to continue his development defensively. These are all more than reachable goals and why his junior season will be Cumberland’s best yet.