Week after week, the Cincinnati Bearcats have had something change for their roster. Players have decided to transfer and others have bought in to the John Brannen system and joined up. For a team that just won an American Athletic Conference title for the second-straight season, all this change wasn’t entirely anticipated when the final seconds ticked off of the last game of the year, but it became the expectation when Mick Cronin took the head coaching job at UCLA. With LaQuill Hardnett becoming the most recent Bearcat to opt to transfer, we have been given another stark reminder of just how different this year’s team will look.
Although Hardnett never played a minute as a Bearcat, after all of the roster departures whether due to graduation (Justin Jenifer and Cane Broome) or transfer (Nysier Brooks, Rashawn Fredericks, Logan Johnson and Eliel Nsoseme), the team has lost 3,378 minutes of production from last year’s squad. That accounts for 47.9 percent of the playing time logged in 2018-19. After sitting out as a redshirt freshman, it seemed like Hardnett would get at least some share of that, but that is not true any longer if he transfers.
That brings us to all the players who will actually have a shot at picking up playing time alongside the players who remain like Jarron Cumberland, Trevon Scott, Keith Williams, Trevor Moore and Mamoudou Diarra. Chris McNeal should be granted plenty of time by adding veteran leadership and needed distribution power. Jaevin Cumberland is another experienced backcourt contributor who will be a key on offense with his ability to knock down threes. Jaume Sorolla can help with protecting the paint and true freshmen like Mika Adams-Woods and Jeremiah Davenport could fill in the gaps in the backcourt if Brannen opts to roll with a deeper rotation. That doesn’t even taken into account guys who won’t be able to contribute until 2020 like Mike Saunders, who will be a true freshman that year, and Chris Vogt, who has to sit out next season after transferring.
Hardnett’s impending departure also means that the Bearcats are not entirely finished with building the 2019-20 roster, but we’ll have to wait and see how that works itself out. Just last week, it appeared that the dust had settled on such roster construction for Brannen and company but as we’ve learned in the last couple months, things can change and change quickly.