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The University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team fell to No. 6 ranked University of Houston, 58-80, on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, at home at Fifth Third Arena. 

As the leaves continue to change and winter approaches, basketball season is right around the corner. During the offseason, the University of Cincinnati (UC) shuffled up the roster.

Picked to finish third by American Athletic Conference (AAC) coaches, head coach Wes Miller will have a good mix of young and veteran players as the Bearcats look to make it back to the tournament for the first time since 2019

The only UC player to be named to an AAC preseason team was last season’s leading scorer, David DeJulius. Averaging 14.5 points per game (ppg), DeJulius was the only Bearcat to start all 33 games. Entering his final year of college eligibility, DeJulius will be a key factor this season as the starting point guard and as a mentor for the younger players. 

“I’ve been extremely impressed with Dave [DeJulius]. His approach has just been different,” said Miller. “It just sets the tone for the rest of the team... this morning we walked through some things before practice this afternoon... and DeJulius walks in the gym and he is fully lathered in sweat for our walkthrough at nine.”  

Cincinnati’s own Jeremiah Davenport will return for his senior season after averaging 13.4 ppg and leading the team in rebounds with 5.5 per game. Davenport is widely known for his three-point shooting, as he knocked down 83 last season, the most since Sean Kilpatrick back in 2014. 

One of two graduate students on the Bearcats roster – Dejulius being the other – John Newman III will look to improve this year after averaging 6.9 points in 25.9 minutes a game last season. A key starter and a well-known hassle on defense for the Bearcats, Newman will need to contribute more offensively if the Bearcats want to play in April. 

Returning starter Mika Adams-Woods finished third on the team in points with 8.6 per game and scored in double figures 14 times. Now in his senior season, Adams will see a larger role this season after former point guard Mike Saunders Jr. transferred to Utah this offseason. 

Returning for his second season, CJ Anthony scored six points total in 10 games last season. With the return of veteran guards in DeJulius and Adams, as well as a few transfers, Anthony will likely continue as a role player in a stellar backcourt rotation.

Redshirt sophomore Viktor Lakhin appeared in 29 games last season with 19 steals and nine blocks. Listed at six feet, 11 inches and 240 pounds, Lakhin scored in double figures twice and should see a bigger role this season after battling injuries most of last season.

Jarrett Hensley, a forward, played in every game last season and averaged 7.6 minutes a game and 1.3 rebounds. After playing double-digit minutes in the final four games, Hensley should see a bigger role this season and perhaps start a few games. Hensley’s offseason featured a lot of travel as the Kansas native played with team USA East Coast to take on some top European competition.

Ody Oguama, a senior, also played in every game last season. Known for his high energy, Oguama averaged 4.2 points and rebounds a game, with his season-high in scoring coming at home against Alabama A&M with 13. Scoring in all but five games, Ody will be battling it out with Hensley as each look to earn a consistent spot in the starting lineup. 

Transfer players

Kalu Ezikpe, a six-foot-eight-inch forward, transferred to Cincinnati last summer after four years at Old Dominion. A team captain last year, Ezikpe averaged 11.3 ppg and 7.1 rebounds. 

Landers Nolley II, a redshirt senior, transferred from conference rival Memphis after averaging 9.8 ppg. In the teams’ two meetings last year, Nolley played over 30 minutes both times, scoring seven in the first meeting and 13 in a visit to UC. 

After four years at the University of Indiana, Rob Phinisee decided to transfer to Cincinnati this summer. A six-foot-one-inch guard, Phinisee is known for being a good passer with a low turnover rate. Although he averaged more minutes last season, Phinisee saw a slight drop in points per game but an increase in rebounds and steals compared to the previous season. 

Chase Kirkwood, a sophomore guard, transferred to UC last summer from Arkansas. A team manager last season, Kirkwood earned a spot on the roster as a walk-on. 

“You have six incoming players. This group to date seems to get along as good as any group I’ve been around,” said Miller. “They hang out together, you know like anybody they have guys they’re closer with than others, but you see different combinations of guys together every day.” 

Freshmen

One of three members of the 2022 recruiting class, Daniel Skillings is a six-foot-six-inch shooting guard from Blackwood, New Jersey. Known for his outside shooting and ball handles, Skillings was ranked 110th nationally, according to 247sports. 

Listed at six-foot-seven-inches, Josh Reed joins the Bearcats as a two-time state champion from Georgia. A versatile defender and strong passer, Reed was ranked 150th nationally according to 247sports.

Sage Tolentino, a seven-foot-one-inch center, previously committed to Auburn before flipping his decision to Cincinnati. Originally from Hawaii, Tolentino uses his height to his advantage with his smooth touch around the rim and strong jump shot. 

The Bearcats men’s basketball program opens its season on Nov. 7 against Chaminade at Fifth Third Arena.