The University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team saw its season come to an end Friday in Columbus, Ohio, losing its first-round matchup of the NCAA Tournament 79-72 to the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.
With the loss, seniors Cane Broome and Justin Jenifer wrapped up their collegiate careers after posting their best seasons as Bearcats.
Jenifer started in 34 of the 35 games and had one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the country at 3.9. The 5-foot-10 guard averaged a career-best in points (8.6) and assists (2.9) per game, while shooting 45 percent on field goals and 44 percent on three-point attempts.
Broome was one of the best sixth men in the American Athletic Conference, averaging 8.3 points per game in only four starts. He also played the most minutes of his collegiate career, averaging 21.2.
So, what’s next for the UC men’s basketball program after another early exit in the big dance?
The top recruit joining the Bearcats next season is Samari Curtis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Xenia High School in Xenia, Ohio. A three-star prospect according to 247sports, Curtis was named the 2019 Ohio Mr. Basketball — a prestigious award presented to the best player in the state. He is the first recipient of the award to commit to play at UC.
Considered the No. 4 overall recruit in Ohio for the class of 2019, Curtis averaged 34.4 points per game as a senior and finished his high school career with 2,109 points.
As for the players expected to return next season, head coach Mick Cronin will have a guard-stacked rotation next season.
Incoming sophomore Logan Johnson and senior Jarron Cumberland will take over the reigns as primary ballhandlers. Although Cumberland has played off the ball for most of his collegiate career, Cronin has hinted at having the 2019 AAC Player of the Year play point guard next season.
The top candidate for the starting position at shooting guard is incoming junior Keith Williams, who shot 45 percent on field goals this past season but struggled from beyond the arc. Fellow incoming junior Trevor Moore is next on the depth chart, but that could change once Curtis arrives.
A combination of players could fit as the starter for the small forward position. Williams would be the primary candidate if Cronin were to start Johnson or Curtis with Cumberland at the guard position. If not, incoming senior Rashawn Fredericks could fill the position off the bench.
The primary candidate is incoming senior Trevon Scott, who served as the starter this season and will be back seeking a strong final season. Look for incoming junior Eliel Nsoseme or Fredericks to be assistance in the rotation.
After redshirting this past season, 6-foot-7 Prince Gillam Toyambi and 6-foot-8 LaQuill Hardnett will begin their collegiate careers next season. Both listed as forwards, the duo could see time at the small forward and power forward positions next season.
Incoming senior Nysier Brooks will be the primary rim protector for Cronin after averaging 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in his junior campaign. Incoming sophomore Mamoudou Diarra and Nsoseme are next on the depth chart.