As the college basketball season officially winds down, players around the world are beginning the process of turning professional by entering their names into the 2019 NBA Draft.
One player, who is among those contemplating their basketball futures, is University of Cincinnati guard Jarron Cumberland.
The American Athletic Conference (AAC) Player of the Year is coming off a phenomenal junior season, where he averaged 18.8 points per game — a career-high that ranked him in the top five in the conference.
Cumberland did more than just score the basketball for head coach Mick Cronin, as he also set career-highs in rebounds (4.4), assists (3.6) and steals (1.1).
The Associated Press, AAC coaches and media took notice, as the Wilmington, Ohio, native was named to the 2019 Citizen Naismith Trophy Midseason Team and was one of 10 players considered for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year award.
On top of that, Cumberland was named the AAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player after the Bearcats were crowned back-to-back champions.
Following a breakout season that came with a lot of publicity and awards, one might assume Cumberland is poised to take his game to the professional level, right?
Not so fast.
The 6-foot-5 guard has been left off first-round NBA mock drafts by CBSSports and BleacherReport, and NBAdraft.net doesn’t project Cumberland to be in its full mock draft either (all 60 picks).
No other player in the AAC is projected to be picked this year, which opens up the possibility that Cumberland might stick around for a senior season at Cincinnati.
The AAC has continued to improve year in and year out. Well-known NCAA coaches, including Dan Hurley (UConn) and Gregg Marshall (Wichita State), are now in the conference. NBA Hall-of-Famer and head coach Penny Hardaway is in the process of turning around the University of Memphis Tigers men’s basketball program by landing the No. 1 overall prospect for the class of 2019 in James Wiseman.
My point? Cumberland has a chance to be “the man” next season.
Seniors Jeremiah Martin (Memphis), Corey Davis Jr. (Houston), Markus McDuffie (Wichita State) and Shizz Alston Jr. (Temple) will all be graduating.
Cumberland had no problem scoring on those four players most of the season, managing at least 20 points in 10 of 18 games of conference play.
UC is scheduled to have a small revenge tour with games against Ohio State University and the University of Nevada next season. Cincinnati is also set to face the University of Iowa Hawkeyes — the school that bounced them from the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament — at the Chicago Legends Event in December.
If he were to return, Cumberland has the potential of putting down one of the best seasons and collegiate careers in UC and NCAA history.
Already part of the 1,000-point club at the university, Cumberland would have the chance to add to his totals and trophy case that’ll put his No. 34 in the debate to be retired.
Cumberland is currently No. 20 on UC’s all-time scoring list with 1,363 points after putting up 657 in his junior year. Reaching 2,000, which has only been achieved by the legendary Oscar Robertson and Sean Kilpatrick, is not out of reach for Cumberland — he’s just 633 away.
Wouldn’t you want to go down as one of the greatest to ever play at Fifth Third Arena if you had this opportunity?
I know I would.