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Assessing Recent Recruiting Struggles for Cincinnati Basketball

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Cincinnati does not have much to show from recent recruiting classes.

NCAA Basketball: Memphis at Cincinnati Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NE

On Monday, junior guard Trevor Moore announced his decision to enter the transfer portal, after playing 75 games as a Bearcat. Moore becomes the sixth player to depart the program since the end of last season, coinciding with Mick Cronin’s departure to UCLA.

Any time you lose six players, it’s going to hurt, though none of them were particularly impactful on their own. The fact that many fans shrugged at the departure of each player is proof that Cincinnati might have been recruiting the wrong players and their last few classes certainly reflect that. 2017 and 2018, in particular, since those classes should be the heart of this team right now as sophomores and juniors.

Let’s look back at the last four recruiting classes.

2019

Players - Zach Harvey, Mika Adams-Woods, and Jeremiah Davenport

This is technically John Brannen’s first class, though he only had a few weeks to assemble it. All things considered, he did pretty well for himself. Harvey was ranked #49 nationally and Adams-Woods and Davenport were highly regarded. 9 games into their freshmen seasons, there is no way to fairly judge or evaluate but this class looks like a solid foundation to the Brannen era.

But what is worth noting, is that before Brannen’s arrival, Cincinnati had just one recruit - 2019 Mr. Basketball in Ohio, Samari Curtis. Curtis de-committed when Mick Cronin left and chose to play for Nebraska. After just 5 games, Curtis has already entered the transfer portal, leaving Nebraska.

2018

Players - Logan Johnson, Laquill Hardnett Rashawn Fredericks, Prince Gilliam

This class is....yikes. Believe it or not, this was the #2 ranked AAC class in 2018 too. The headliner here is Johnson, who was expected to start at point guard in 2019-20, but opted to transfer to Saint Mary’s. Johnson was a solid defender but his offense was limited. He only scored 2 ppg and averaged less than 1 assist per game (0.7) while playing just 7 minutes per game.

Fredericks came in as a top JUCO prospect and was known for his shooting abilities. He shot just 36% from the floor and averaged 2.3 ppg in 10.3 minutes per game. This, after he averaged 17.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg in 2017-18 (his second season) at Motlow State He transferred to UAB after last season.

Hardnett redshirted in 2018-19 and transferred to Buffalo without ever playing a game for the Bearcats.

Gilliam also redshirted last year and is still enrolled at UC, but has a serious heart condition that has put his basketball career on hold. The good news is Gilliam has been posting pictures and videos of himself working out on social media and seems to be in good health. He has reportedly been cleared for light cardio and activity. What his future as a basketball player looks like remains TBD though.

2017

Players - Keith Williams, Trevor Moore, Mamoudou Diarra, Eliel Nsoseme

Keith Williams has developed into a very good player and is a core player for the Bearcats in 2019-20 and will be even more of a focal point next year when some of the seniors depart. This year, Williams is averaging 13 ppg and 4.7 rpg. He has really progressed in coach Brannen’s new system early on and should continue to improve.

Moore announced Monday his decision to enter the transfer portal. In 4 of his 6 games this year, he went scoreless off the bench.

Diarra played just 7 games as a freshman and 20 games off the bench last year. This season, he is averaging just over 8 minutes per game and is averaging 3 rpg, an improvement from the 1.9 rpg he averaged each of the last two years. It wouldn’t be a total surprise if Diarra left the program before the end of his eligiblity runs out.

Nsoseme transferred to Georgia State and is averaging 1.3 ppg and 3.2 rpg this year. Those numbers are consistent with his averages from last year. He played 33 games, averaging 1.3 ppg and 3.2 rpg.

2016

Players - Jarron Cumberland, Nysier Brooks

Obviously we don’t need to get too deep into Cumberland’s story. Despite his struggles this year, he is the face of the program and won AAC Player of the Year last year. If he can shake off his issues, Cincinnati will be competitive all year and in the mix come March.

After sitting behind Gary Clark and Kyle Washington, Brooks was elevated to starter last year, starting all 35 games and showing great improvement. He averaged 8 ppg and 6 rpg, after averaging 2 ppg and 2 rpg in each of his first two years. He is currently sit out this year due to transfer rules and will be eligible in 2020-21 for Miami.