Cincinnati stocks backcourt with two verbal commitments

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Many tactics have proven to be effective in college basketball recruiting. Many so-called “blue blood” programs set their targets on top-50 prospects, and often wage battles for those players that extend late in the signing periods. The danger in that tactic is that the runner-ups can come up empty handed, and struggle to complete a roster when other similarly talented prospects are off the board.

Cincinnati is a program that has traditionally not taken such a tactic to heart, as coach Mick Cronin targets high school and junior college players who fit his system. The track record of success for the Bearcats speaks for itself, in recent memory.

That said, Cincinnati landed two backcourt recruits just a few days, as 6-3 combo guards Troy Caupain and Kevin Johnson committed within days of each other. While neither is considered a top-50 player, both have the skills to be competent in the Bearcats’ system for years, and should be welcomed with open arms by fans.

Caupain, who hails from Virginia and plays in the strong Team Loaded grassroots program, and Johnson, a player from the backyard at Summit Country Day in Cincinnati, can both handle the ball. While it’s not clear which player will be the primary handler in the future, and which will play off the ball, it is clear that Cincinnati has projected replacements for their senior guards, JaQuon Parker and Cashmere Wright.

Both Johnson and Caupain are arguably top-150 players, and both received positive reviews during the spring circuit. Cronin and his staff have locked up both backcourt players prior to the July evaluation period, and both seem like solid additions. The key now for Cincinnati will to land a blue chip big man, after missing out on Chris Obekpa in the 2012 class to St. John’s.

One interior star that Cincinnati has their eye on is 6-9 power forward Jermaine Lawrence, a New York City transplant that plays high school hoops in New Jersey. With Caupain and Johnson in the fray, Lawrence is likely to be the subject of a full court recruiting press from the Cincinnati staff going forward. With or without Lawrence, fans can breathe a sigh of relief that the guard core has been replenished with sizable, lengthy and skilled players.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

Creighton lands 2016 combo guard

Greg McDermott
Associated Press
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Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.

News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.

Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.

Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.

Three-star power forward commits to WVU

Bob Huggins
Associated Press
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Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.

6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.

West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.

Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.