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University of Cincinnati men's basketball player Chris McNeal (0) drives to the hoop for a layup Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 at Fifth Third Arena during "Bearcats Madness." 

Bearcats Madness made its well-awaited return to the spotlight after a 15-year absence at Fifth Third Arena last weekend. It wasn’t the only new thing on display on campus at 1 a.m., as newcomers including first-year head coach John Brannen and seven men’s basketball players introduced themselves in front of 8,000-plus fans.

Graduate transfer Jaevin Cumberland, previously at Oakland University, showed off his shooting, winning the three-point contest, while seniors Keith Williams and Tre Scott failed to throw down anything spectacular in the dunk contest. The 20-minute scrimmage afterward was more of an up-and-down pace, but everyone got to see the future of the program. 

Here are five players in their first year at UC to watch for:

Jaevin Cumberland: senior guard

Brannen landing Cumberland was considered a win, as he joins his cousin Jarron for their final year of college. Jaevin is a 50-40-90 caliber player after averaging 42.5% on field goals, 39.9% from beyond the arc and 85.4% at the free throw line last season. Jaevin, like Jarron, has an ability to find the open man as well, dishing out 3.5 assists last season. Jaevin and Jarron have a good chance to be the top two scorers on the Bearcats this season and be the two who take the program back to a Final Four.

Zach Harvey: freshman guard

Harvey comes to UC with a pedigree the program hasn’t seen for a few years. A four-star prospect by and ranked No. 48 overall, the Topeka, Kansas, native was tabbed as the ninth-best shooting guard in the nation. Harvey has an all-around skillset, averaging 16.5 points, 4.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds last season at Prolific Prep Academy. He also shot 36.7% from three in the Under-Armor Circuit for Kansas City Run GMC. Harvey reclassified from the class of 2020 to 2019 and committed to the Bearcats in June. It’s unlikely Harvey will start with the Cumberland’s in front of him, but could to be the first guy off the bench.

Mika Adams-Woods: freshman guard

The Bearcats will continue to have a left-handed guard on the team in Adams-Woods, who can do it all. The 6-foot-3 floor general can score, pass, rebound and defend. The defense sets himself apart, as he averaged 1.9 steals as a high school senior. Adams-Woods is a scoring guard UC has been looking for, averaging 19 points per game and shooting 52.5% from three last year. Adams-Woods will be in the mix to start at point guard, as Brannen switched between three guards and forwards in the starting lineup for the Norse in 2018.

Chris McNeal: senior guard

Another guard in the mix could be McNeal. The Tennessee Tech University transfer sat out all of last year after transferring from the University of New Mexico the year before — where he averaged 9.5 points per game and led the team in assists (93) and three-pointers (56). He averaged just 1.9 turnovers for the Lobos in 2017, which may remind some fans of former Bearcat guard Justin Jenifer, who finished No. 5 in the nation with a 3.9 assists-to-turnover ratio last season. McNeal will join Jaevin, Adams-Woods and Harvey in the debate to be a starter.

Jaume Sorolla: senior center

Opposing teams will have to go through the 7-foot, 270-pound Sorolla if they want to score inside. He has proven to be a rim-protector, averaging 1.2 and 1.1 blocks per game the last two years at Valparaiso University. He hasn’t done much scoring, but the big man showed his range in the scrimmage by making an elbow jumper and looked comfortable taking the shot. Sorolla has yet to average more than 20 minutes per game in a season so far in college and could be the case again if he were to come off the bench.

Sports Editor

Schultz has been with The News Record since September 2017. A Cincinnati native, Schultz is interested in a career in broadcasting.