Cincinnati is playing an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, which will be the team’s final game in its six-day stay in the Bahamas. On Friday, the Bearcats played their only game against an opponent outside the program, picking up a 94-64 win over the PJ Stingers at the Sir Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium in Nassau.
Underclassmen Kevin Johnson and Gary Clark led the Bearcats with 17 points apiece. Clark, a top 100 recruit, was part of a new-look front court, along with with junior college transfer Octavius Ellis and three-star recruit Quadri Moore. The trio helped Cincinnati outrebound the Stingers 53-29.
Cincinnati assisted on 24 of its 39 field goals. Although, the team did commit 15 turnovers. Ball movement is something Cronin is stressing this offseason. Last season, the Bearcats had an assist rate that ranked them 145th in the country, according to kenpom. While its defense led Cincinnati to a second-place finish in the American, its offense caused an early exit from the NCAA tournament, as No. 12 Harvard upset the No. 5 seed in the Round of 64.
The offense will need to account for the loss of its top three scorers, including All American Sean Kilpatrick, who averaged 20.7 points per game.
Cincinnati will have seven additions to this year’s team — five newcomers and two redshirt freshmen — to go along with returning starters Shaquille Thomas and Ge’Lawn Guyn. This week’s trip to the Bahamas was an important one for Cronin to mold a team looking to contend with conference favorite SMU and reigning national champion UConn.
“We’ve had a great trip,” Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin said after Friday’s game. “Attitude of the team has been great. We’ve got a lot out of this, not just basketball, but just team bonding. When you have a new team like this, with so many new players, you have to become a team before you can worry about X’s and O’s. We’ve really tried to focus on that in the last few weeks.”
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 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.