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Season in Review: Eliel Nsoseme

Despite being limited to a reserve role, Nsoseme was one of the best Bearcats on the boards and on defense.

NCAA Basketball: Wichita State at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

  • 1.3 points per game
  • 3.2 rebounds per game
  • 0.6 blocks per game
  • 39.5 percent from the field
  • 40.6 percent from the free throw line

Even though Eliel Nsoseme has played two seasons and 62 total games for the Cincinnati Bearcats, it still feels like he is just scratching the surface of his potential. He already excels in a couple areas and he fully unleashed those skills throughout this season as a primary frontcourt reserve.

The best part of Nsoseme’s game was his ability to secure rebounds. It didn’t matter if it was on the offensive or defensive glass, the 6’9” sophomore was going to outwork anyone and everyone for a rebound. His per game mark (3.2) doesn’t illustrate that well enough. He was bringing down those 3.2 per game across roughly 10 minutes. If he was given an entire 40-minute game to produce, he would be piling up nearly a dozen boards per game. That type of effort was why he finished the season at the top of the Bearcats’ leader board in total rebound rate (17.4 percent). Perhaps even more impressively, he was one of the driving forces behind UC’s incredible production on the offensive boards, ranking second only to Nysier Brooks in offensive rebound rate (10.4 percent), making the duo the only players on the team to hit double digits.

As someone who was constantly in the paint chasing rebounds, it was imperative that Nsoseme also be an adept defender against opposing forwards and centers. He held up his end of the bargain there as well. Almost all of his win share total (0.9) came on the defensive side of the floor (0.8) and his defensive rating of 92.0 was only bested by fellow frontcourt reserve Mamoudou Diarra, who played 13 fewer games. Nsoseme wasn’t just able to defend against post-ups from other forwards. He also showed a real skill for protecting the rim against all challengers, blocking 3.2 shots per 100 possessions and finishing third on the team in block rate (6.9 percent).

While his defense and rebounding already graded out highly, Nsoseme still has a long way to go on offense. Even if we can blame some of it on small sample size since he attempted a total of 38 field goals all season, the fact that he connected on just 39.5 percent of them is concerning. When you add in his struggles at the foul line (40.6 percent), that left him with a true shooting percentage of just 40.4 percent. Nobody is expecting Nsoseme to turn into Danny Fortson in the next year or two but he has to figure out a way to at least contribute some positives on offense. Otherwise it will be difficult to keep him on the floor no matter how good he is on the other side.

The Best of the Best

Dec. 1 at UNLV

Nsoseme tied with teammate Keith Williams for the second-most rebounds in this game (eight) and also blocked two shots across 18 minutes.

Dec. 4 vs. Northern Kentucky

Just a few days later he was even better, with six points, eight rebounds and a steal over 22 minutes.

Jan. 15 vs. USF

Nsoseme tied a career-high with four blocks in 17 minutes against the Bulls, although he would only play three more games of more than 10 minutes the rest of the year.

For Next Year

Nsoseme doesn’t need to do much more to ensure that he is one of the first guys off the bench next season. However, if he is going to get more of an opportunity and even push established starters like Brooks and Trevon Scott, he has to make improving on offense a priority. He can already defend and rebound at an elite level. Just becoming an average offensive contributor will make him that much better.