Jan 26, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin talks with guard Troy Caupain (10) during the first half at the Liacouras Center. Cincinnati defeated Temple 80-76. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

UC Bearcats Basketball: Projecting Cincinnati's New 2014 Depth Chart

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In a matter of 24 hours Cincinnati’s basketball roster experienced a bit of an upheaval. Power forward Octavius Ellis and point guard Farad Cobb signed with UC and will join the existing players on the team this Summer. Additionally, Jermaine Lawrence asked for his release from the basketball program. As of yesterday, he has followed through on those intentions and will be leaving Cincinnati for a team elsewhere.

So due to the immense change to the Bearcats’ roster, here’s a way too early prediction of what the depth chart next season will look like.

Point Guard

Troy Caupain will should start at point guard next season. One of the few weaknesses in his game, defense, will surely improve over the summer. This was truly the only thing holding him back in 2013-14 and why he split time there with GeLawn Guyn. I don’t think we’ll see that next year. Guyn will slide over to the 2 and Farad Cobb will battle with Caupain for the starting point guard position. Hopefully this change brings a jolt to Cincinnati’s offense.

Shooting Guard

As mentioned above, I envision GeLawn Guyn moving over to shooting guard next season. He’s an exceptional defender but just doesn’t have the offensive prowess to run the show from above the key. An off-the-ball shooting guard role seems like a natural position for Guyn who could blossom at the 2. The same goes for Kevin Johnson and Deshaun Morman who, by early indications, are more adept offensive players even at such an early age. While Guyn should get most of the starts and minutes here, these two young guards will be battling for playing time behind him.

Small Forward

Shaq Thomas will again start at small forward next season. He was extremely inconsistent in 2013-14, to the point where you could barely notice he was even playing at times. Shaq’s numbers did improve from his sophomore year (3-2-0.5 to 7-3-1) but wasn’t nearly as efficient with double the amount of minutes in some of those areas. Therefore Jermaine “Two Treys Per Game” Sanders has as good a shot as any to chip away at Shaq’s minutes if the latter rests on his laurels. As of now I think Thomas will start for the Bearcats next season but it’s tough to say who will have the advantage at the small forward position by January.

Power Forward

Ok, the prediction for this position is definitely a stretch. The two players I envision locking down the 4 for Cincinnati in 2014-15 are true freshmen. While it will be their first time in the program, I don’t really see how Mick Cronin can keep Gary Clark or Quadri Moore off the floor. They are just so advanced offensively for their age. But the UC head coach has a habit of starting veterans over freshmen. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with that, it’s just the philosophy he abides by. So if Cronin doesn’t start Clark or Moore at power forward I wouldn’t be surprised to see Octavius Ellis slide in here. He would make the most sense of Cincinnati’s experienced big men.

Center

If Mick goes against his nature and starts Clark or Moore at the 4, the veteran Octavius Ellis will likely start at center for Cincinnati. He’s supposedly added some height and weight during his time at Trinity Valley Community College which will serve him well at UC. But if Mick moves Ellis over to the 4 to begin the season, he’ll be forced to roll the dice with Jamaree Strickland or Coreontae DeBerry.

That’s what makes both power forward and center such tricky positions. Octavius Ellis is the only player who has participated in live games for the Bearcats. The others are made up of true freshmen, a redshirt freshman, and a huge forward who performed well against JUCO competition but is untested at the division 1 level. As a result Mick will have some difficult decisions to make in the coming months. Still, I would expect Ellis to start at center but he moves over to the 4 it will be a toss up between Strickland and DeBerry as to who will take the court during the opening tipoff at the 5.

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