The first week of American Athletic Conference play has been a rocky one for the Cincinnati Bearcats. After destroying Tulane last Wednesday, they were unceremoniously defeated on the road against the East Carolina Pirates this past Saturday.
With those two games in the books and a total of 15 played this year, the Bearcats have had mostly peaks mixed with a handful of valleys. Those fluctuations have not been exclusive to the team as a whole and have been felt on an individual level as well. That means it is time to update the old Bearcat Player Power Rankings. Let’s get to it.
13. Sam Martin (Previously 12)
Martin has only played once in the last five games, handing out an assist in two minutes against Tulane.
12. John Koz (13)
Martin may have had an assist, but Koz made a bucket in the win over Tulane. Basketball is about getting buckets.
11. Mamoudou Diarra (11)
Diarra is in a tough spot, as he sits on the fringes of the second unit. He has only appeared in two of the last five games, but has packed in plenty of production, scoring a career-high eight points against South Carolina State and tallying six rebounds and two blocks against Tulane. When he gets more lasting chances in future seasons, the Bearcats can rest easy knowing he can play.
10. Logan Johnson (7)
After getting a healthy share of playing time off the bench during the first 10 games of his collegiate career, Johnson is getting more of a freshman’s opportunity of late. He has played more than 10 minutes just once since Dec. 4 and isn’t making a strong case for that to change. He is shooting just 28.6 percent from the floor over the last five games and, despite seeing his minutes slip, he’s still bit a bit too turnover prone.
9. Trevor Moore (9)
Moore’s role on the team is still developing. He isn’t getting a consistent amount of playing time, ranging from 23 minutes against South Carolina State to four against Mississippi State. He isn’t shooting all that well recently (35 percent), but he has some range and is still a solid defender. There is a place for him in the rotation. Mick Cronin just has to find it.
8. Cane Broome (5)
Broome shouldn’t be this low and can’t be if the Bearcats want to repeat as league champions. However, the numbers do not speak falsehoods. Broome is averaging just 4.8 points per game on 36.4 percent shooting during the last five games. He has only been in double figures once in that time and hasn’t made a three-pointer since the end of November. Broome is supposed to be one of the primary scorers on the roster, so if he’s struggling to do so, the Bearcats will struggle along with him.
7. Rashawn Fredericks (10)
Part of the reason Moore is finding it difficult to get a chance is because Fredericks has taken on more responsibilities. In 16.4 minutes per game, the 6’5” forward is averaging 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. The Bearcats desperately need more effective three-point shooting, so leaning on anyone finding success in that area makes sense.
6. Eliel Nsoseme (8)
Nsoseme has carved out a role for himself by focusing on where he excels. He is a great rebounder and rim protector and although he is blocked from the starting lineup by Nysier Brooks and Trevon Scott, he has become the top frontcourt player off the bench. He is averaging four rebounds and one block in 14 minutes per game in the last five outings, boosting his rebound rate to a team-high among players to appear in all 15 games (21.5 percent). For Nsoseme to get even more chances to play, he needs to be more efficient offensively. He isn’t being asked to be the first, second, third or even fourth option, but netting 27.3 percent the last five games isn’t what the Bearcats are looking for.
5. Trevon Scott (2)
Scott got off to a blistering start to the season, but he has cooled off recently. He is still a starter playing 24 minutes per game, but he is struggling with his shot, netting just 38.5 percent of his shots during the last five contests. During that span, he is also wasting chances at the free-throw line (58.3 percent) and has only scored in double figures once. His rebounding work has been solid (5.2 RPG) and his passing remains underrated (2.0 APG), so once he gets a few more shots to fall, he’ll rise back up the rankings.
4. Keith Williams (3)
Everything is still trending upward for Williams, just not as astronomically as they were last time we did these rankings. The sophomore swingman is the second-leading scorer over the last five games (11.6 points per game) and he is also the only player on the roster averaging at least one steal and one block during that time frame. However, his perimeter shooting has been lacking and he has somehow missed more free throws than he’s made (46.2 percent). For a guy who likes to score, both near and far from the basket, his efficiency needs to start going back up.
3. Nysier Brooks (4)
Brooks has always been a great rebounder and a stout defender but he has begun to expand his horizons offensively. He is averaging 11 points per game during the last five contests and is taking and making good shots, connecting on 62.1 percent from the floor. These newfound offensive powers have not diminished his efforts on defense or the glass, as he has led the Bearcats in rebounds (5.8 per game) and blocks (1.4 per game).
2. Justin Jenifer (6)
In the midst of a career year, Jenifer had a stumble of sorts against East Carolina, as he made just 3-of-8 shots from the floor, including 1-for-5 from three-point range. He also had only three assists, which was his lowest single-game total since Dec. 4. Despite that dud of a game, Jenifer is still producing 9.8 points and 4.4 assists per game during his last five appearances, while being one of the best three-point shooters on the team (44.0 3P%). Jenifer’s improvement as a scorer has been critical to UC’s success and will continue to be as 2019 rolls on.
1. Jarron Cumberland (1)
Who else could it be? Cumberland has lived up to his potential and more this season. He is piling up points, shooting efficiently, dropping dimes, rebounding effectively and defending at an elite level. In the five games we’ve been discussing, he led the team in minutes (30.6), points (19.6) and steals (1.4) per game while draining 51.7 percent of his three-point tries and 85 percent at the foul line. He is the best player on the team and its not particularly close.