After a surprising run at the end of the season and being a game away from an NCAA Tournament appearance Cincinnati Basketball all of a sudden find themselves scrambling to try and put together a competitive roster for the 2021 season.
With the departures of five players, the Bearcats will have eight open scholarships with no incoming freshman for next season (Assuming all seniors depart).
The five guys that have entered the transfer portal so far are:
Mike Saunders (FR) 3.5 Pts, 1.4 Reb, 1.4 Ast
Gabe Madsen (FR) 1.5 Pts, 1.0 Reb, 0.0 Ast
Tari Eason (FR) 7.3 Pts, 5.9 Reb, 1.3 As
Mamoudou Diarra (JR) 2.3 Pts, 2.1 Reb, 0.4 Ast
Zach Harvey (SO) 6.4 Pts, 1.2 Reb, 0.7 Ast
There’s a lot of these guys that looked like they were going to have big roles in the next couple of seasons, especially with Tari Eason, Harvey, and Saunders. Saunders started 10 games for the Bearcats as a freshman with a season-high 19 points in a loss to Memphis. He really struggled to shoot the ball this season hitting just 21% from behind the arc. His speed and ball-handling give him a lot of upside. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him.
Zach Harvey came as little surprise as he had opted out of the season back at the beginning of February. The Bearcats sixth-highest ever ranked recruit had been a huge disappointment but had showed some promise after making a big jump from his freshman to sophomore year. He should get looks from many high major schools as Harvey looks to improve his play.
Tari Eason has to be a major disappointment for the Bearcats fans, Eason came on strong in the conference tournament averaging 8.3 points and 8.0 rebounds over the three-game stretch. An all-around big looked like he had solidified himself into the starting lineup for next season all of a sudden leaves a big hole for John Brannen to fill.
There’s a lot of concerns to address, 48 hours removed from a tournament championship appearance and five guys hitting the portal is not ideal by any stretch. Cincinnati has three seniors including Keith Williams, Williams was the Bearcats’ best player all season earning a Second Team All-AAC nod.
If none of them choose not to come back the Bearcats all of a sudden find themselves with eight scholarships to fill with no incoming freshman. And that’s assuming no one else hit’s the transfer portal.
With no incoming freshman at the moment, the pressure is starting to build on the Bearcats as their longstanding NCAA Tournament streak ends. John Brannen will be forced to go hard in the transfer portal again this offseason to try and rebuild a competitive team. As of now, things look bleak for the future of the Cincinnati basketball program and the John Brannen era of Cincinnati is off to a rocky start.