It has been a banner week for the Cincinnati Bearcats. They got the best news they could possibly hope for when defending American Athletic Conference Player of the Year Jarron Cumberland said he would return for his senior season and now, a roster that has slowly taken shape over the last month received another addition, with 2019 prospect Mika Adams-Woods committing to UC.
Before we get to what Adams-Woods will bring to the table, let’s get to know the newest Bearcat. A 6’3” guard from Syracuse, New York, Adams-Woods is a three-star recruit for the 2019 class. He is considered one of the top 10 recruits in the the Empire State by 247Sports, although he most recently played in New Hampshire. If you’re wondering why a player like that was still figuring out where he would play in late May, that is because Adams-Woods was destined for Nebraska before Tim Miles lost the head coaching job for the Cornhuskers.
As I just mentioned, Adams-Woods is a recruit for the 2019 class and that means he can play right away. That is fantastic news for the Bearcats, who could really use some help in the backcourt, especially at point guard. Now, Adams-Woods is not necessarily going to play point guard but his skill set will allow him to play at both the one and two guard spots. The fact that he has the potential to play at the point at all is great for the Bearcats, who lost their three truest point guard contributors this offseason, assuming Logan Johnson eventually transfers.
Providing versatility makes Adams-Woods an even bigger addition to the team. UC’s roster is a little light on true guards — both of the shooting and point variety — who have played major minutes in the last few years. Although Keith Williams, Trevor Moore and Cumberland are listed as guard’s on the team’s official roster, their size and skills make them fit the small forward role as well. Williams and Moore, especially, have shown very little ability to distribute, meaning they are not realistic options at the point and both are still finding enough success with their shots to be considered prototypical shooting guards. They will still undoubtedly fill the latter role throughout next season and having a backcourt made up of two guys who can also play in the frontcourt and an all-conference scorer and playmaker like Cumberland, who can also play multiple positions, wouldn’t be the worst way to approach next year. However, it would leave the Bearcats a bit short-handed in the backcourt, as after those three the only guards we know will be back are Sam Martin and John Koz, who combined to play 21 minutes last year. With Adams-Woods entering the fold, the Bearcats will have more depth on that part of the roster.
Aside from providing depth, Adams-Woods will be able to learn along side Cumberland, making his return all that more important. Even if Adams-Woods isn’t ready to be the starting point guard, or at least the dominant ball-handler, next season, he doesn’t have to be. Cumberland had a usage rate of more than 30 percent last year and it’s unlikely that he will be given fewer opportunities in John Brannen’s system. Assuming he is given an early chance at playing meaningful minutes, Adams-Woods can focus on filling in the gaps in the backcourt while taking in some lessons. That means the value proposition of this commitment provides benefits to all parties and that will only lead to more successful weeks for both Adams-Woods and the Bearcats.