6’1” 190 lbs, RS Senior, Point guard
With UC losing Cane Broome & Justin Jennifer to graduation, and also Logan Johnson to transfer, John Brannen had to fill a major role at point guard. Bring in Chris McNeal, the most mysterious addition, who is coming into his fifth year– at his fifth school. He came out of the 2015 high school class from Jackson South Side High School in Tennessee where he was a two-time All-State selection and four-time All-District and Region selection. He led his school to the TSSAA D1 Class AA State Title in 2014 (AA is essentially be Division II in Ohio).
Year 1: Western Kentucky University playing 28 minutes/game in 34 games, starting 29 of them. He averaged 5.6 points, 4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists on 39% shooting from the field, 28% from three. Set the WKU program record for freshman assists recorded, dishing out a team high 134.
Year 2: Indian Hills, JUCO in Iowa. There he averaged 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists on 42% shooting, 38% from three.
Year 3: New Mexico playing 24 minutes a game in 34 games, starting 18 of them. He averaged 9.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists on 37% shooting from the field and 32% from three.
Year 4: Redshirted the season at Tennessee Tech, entered the transfer portal after their coach left.
Chris McNeal has a clean looking jump shot; having shown the ability to hit shots at volume but has been inconsistent shooting the ball at times. He shoots mostly threes hitting both off the dribble and pass. He can create his own shots and finish at the rim. His passing, vision, handles and ability to create are the best part of his game. He is a guy who will put in the extra effort and do the small things like boxing out and diving for loose balls. He is built like a brick house and can play solid defense. Overall, he understands the game and is a great piece for what the Bearcats need this year at point guard. I think he will be at his best if he buys into Brannen’s system as keeping an offensive flow while not trying to do too much, while taking only good shots.
7’0” 240 lbs (Reportedly at 255 lbs after time with UC strength), Senior, Center
With the departure of centers Nysier Brooks and Eliel Nsoseme, Brannen fills the void of rim protector with grad transfer Jaume (Jay) Sorolla out of Valparaiso. Sorolla, originally from Spain, spent 3 years at Valparaiso averaging 15-20 minutes a game. Last year appeared in 27 games, starting 7 of them, averaging 4 points, 3 rebounds, and a block per game. Started 16 of 30 games his sophomore year. He played against Brannen’s Northern Kentucky team twice during his freshmen year while Valparaiso was still in the Horizon Leauge.
Good on court awareness for a big man, will provide viable rim protection. Good footwork for his size and has a nice touch around the rim. He will mostly be a rotation guy but has proven the ability to play larger roles when the matchup calls for it.
6’3” 185 lbs, RS Senior, Shooting guard
My favorite addition to this year’s roster is grad transfer Jaevin Cumberland out of Oakland University (Michigan). The older cousin of Jarron Cumberland by one year, the two played for Wilmington High School together where they had major success leading the team to a 24-2 record and SCOL champions in Jaevins senior year (27-2 Jarrons senior year reaching the D1 final four). Jaevin became the school’s all-time leading scorer until Jarron surpassed it the following year. Jaevin spent 4 years at Oakland, third year being a redshirt year when he suffered a severe ankle injury. He did not play much his first two seasons averaging around 6 minutes a game. Coming back from injury, Jaevin broke out playing 37 minutes a game in 33 games, starting all 33. He averaged 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1 steal while shooting 40% from three.
Jaevin has a pure jump shot, with ability to hit from anywhere including the DEEP three. Able to get to the rim and will frequently get to the line where he shot 85% last year. He is a true shooting guard which will be a great compliment to star player and cousin Jarron. He is a good team guy who will make the right passes especially with the implementation of Brannen’s system. A solid defender who will get steals, again, more so now being in Brannen’s system. In Jaevin’s final game last year, he went 7-14 from three with 27 points. This game happened to be a loss in the Horizon League semi-final against none other than, John Brannen’s Northern Kentucky Norse. I am very high on Jaevin Cumberland, he will be this teams second leading scorer.
7’1” 240 lbs, RS Junior (sitting out this season), Center
Chris Vogt is a former John Brannen recruit, transferring across the river from Northern Kentucky University. Out of Maysville, Kentucky he was one of the best shot blockers in Kentucky High School basketball history, blocking 488 shots in his career which ranks second all time. At NKU, he appeared in 13 games as a freshman and 35 as a sophomore. Sophomore year he averaged 13 minutes a game with 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 block per game on 57% shooting from the field. He had a few huge games where he put up 16+ points, around 10 rebounds, and had several games with 3 plus blocks.
As someone who followed NKU over the years, watching Vogt between his freshman and sophomore year was like watching a brand new guy. He went from the tall uncoordinated looking 7 footer, to a guy with great footwork and touch around the rim who brought energy off the bench last year. As an NKU fan, Vogt was a dark horse off the bench last year and I loved every minute of it. As a BIG Chris Vogt guy, I am expecting major things from him next season.
6’3”, 175 lbs, Freshman, Syracuse, NY, Combo guard
Mika (My-cuh) Adams-Woods, originally from Syracuse attending Bishop Ludden High school, before spending two years at New Hampton Prep School in New Hampshire. He finished the 2018-19 season as a first-team All-NEPSAC Class AAA all-star. He originally committed to Nebraska until Tim Miles was replaced by Fred Hoidberg. Mika re-opened his recruitment to eventually land at Cincinnati with John Brannen. Around the same time, Mick Cronin recruit Samari Curtis had re-opened his recruitment after the departure of Cronin, to then land at Nebraska which turned out to be an indirect trade of recruits between the schools. It will be something to watch over the next few years to see how the two players turn out at their respective schools.
Mika is a lefty combo guard who seems to be a scorer first, pass second guy. He is slightly undersized to be a shooting guard though his length could make up for that. Also, he is more than capable of being a solid point guard regardless of the way he played in high school. One thing that stands out to me is his on court awareness and IQ. While he has good athleticism, he is not the most explosive guy. Rather he plays with great pace, head always on a swivel and always analyzing the floor making great decisions scoring, while creating for his teammates. I think he really understands spacing on offense which will bode well in this system. He is a crafty finisher and has a nice looking jump shot with a quick release. He plays hard on defense and puts effort into every aspect of the game. An overlooked recruit, he is the most complete basketball player of the freshman recruits. It will be interesting to see the role he plays this year with three senior guards likely to play in front of him.
6’6”, 205 lbs, Freshman, Cincinnati, OH, SG/F
Jeremiah Davenport is from Cincinnati and graduated from Moeller High School. He originally committed to Wright State out of high school but decided to reclassify to the 2019 class and attend prep school at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia. At Moeller, alongside recent top 10 NBA draft pick Jaxson Hayes, he lead the Crusaders to consecutive state championship game appearances, winning the title in 2017-18 while averaging 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists shooting 59 percent from the field. Moeller posted a 55-4 record during Davenport’s time on the team. He played varsity as a junior and senior, including a 27-3 record his senior year. He scored a team-high 22 points on 10-14 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists in Moeller’s 83-65 win over Solon in the Ohio D1 state championship game. During his one year in prep school, playing a game against fellow Cincinnati freshman Mika Adams-Woods (Adams-Woods team won that game), Davenport helped guide the Tigers to a 35-3 record while earning MVP honors at the Legacy Nissan Classic and National Prep Showcase. He comes from a basketball family. Older brothers, Michael (St. Bonaventure, 2008-12) Josh (Winthrop, 2013-17), and sister Naomi (West Virginia, 2017-19).
Davenport has great size and athleticism which will equate into rebounds and good defense. He has a nice looking jump shot and he is able to hit from anywhere on the floor. More of a finisher at the rim but I think he will become a good jump shooter. With his athleticism, we are going to see a lot of dunks, big rebounds, and some blocks. I have heard rumors that he will be redshirting his freshman year, possibly due to a surgery. Hopefully not true because Davenport can make an immediate impact to this team. I am excited to have another hometown star on the Cincinnati Bearcats.
6’4”, 180 lbs, Freshman Topeka, Kansas Shooting guard
Zach Harvey originally reclassified to the 2020 class back in September 2018 before recently reverting back to the 2019 class. 247 Sports listed him as a four-star prospect, the number 48 player in the class and ninth best shooting guard. He attended Prolific Prep Academy in Napa, California during the 2018-19 season, averaging 16.5 points, 4.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds through 11 games before an ankle injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. His team posted a 29-7 record, advancing to the semifinals of the Grind Session National Championship. Last summer he played on the Under Armour Circuit for KC Run GMC, averaging 16.3 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and 36.7% from three.
Zach Harvey is rated as one of the top players in this years recruiting class. While still a very raw talent, he has all-around skill with a nice looking jump shot and quick release. His athleticism and handles are above average and has the bounce to make plays at the rim offensively and defensively. Harvey is a guy who has the skill-set to become the future star of the Bearcats, potentially filling the role of Jarron Cumberland.