Wes Miller, Cincinnati Bearcats

Entering his second year with the Cincinnati Bearcats, Wes Miller has managed to keep some key players and recruit a few stars to help out his roster.

CBB Review is once again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 season. Each day we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Coming in ranked number 51 are the Cincinnati Bearcats.

The Bearcats are losing a few of the young talented players recruited before Coach Miller’s tenure. Cincinnati did recruit a couple of contributors that bring more experience and even more potential talent. Miller is doing a great job, but he also needs to be recruiting for the future as the Cincinnati Bearcats will be a part of a more extensive and difficult conference in the Big 12.

It’s also a very veteran team, with the starting lineup expected to be made up of all seniors. The bench also includes a few more seniors, including Indiana transfer Rob Phinisee.

To those who have not, click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 college basketball season.

Head Coach: Wes Millers (12th season overall, 2nd season at Cincinnati)

2021-2022 Record: 18-15 (7-11)

2022 Postseason Finish: No postseason

Notable Departures: A.J. McGinnis (Transfer/Lipscomb), Hayden Koval (Graduated), Mason Madsen (Transfer/Boston College), Mike Saunders Jr. (Transfer/Utah), Sam Martin (Graduated)

Projected Rotation:

PG: Mika Adams-Woods (6-3, 185, Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 8.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 34.3 FG%

SG: David Dejulius (6-0, 190, Gr.-Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists

SF: Jeremiah Davenport (6-7, 210, Jr.)

2021-22 stats: 13.4 points, 5.5 rebounds

PF: Landers Nolley (6-7, 208, Rs.-Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 9.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists (Memphis)

C: Kalu Ezikpe (6-8, 240, Gr.-Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 11.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 blocks (Old Dominion)

6: Rob Phinisee (6-1, 187, Gr.-Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 4.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 31.2 FG% (Indiana)

7: John Newman (6-5, 205, Gr.-Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 6.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals

8: Ody Oguama (6-9, 225, Jr.)

2021-22 stats: 4.2 points, 4.2 rebounds

9: Viktor Lahkin (6-11, 245, Rs.-So.)

2021-22 stats: 4.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 53.8 FG%

10: Daniel Skillings (6-6, 190, Fr.)

247Sports Composite #110 overall ranked recruit

11: Jarrett Hensley (6-8, 220, So.)

2021-22 stats: 1.5 points, 1.3 rebounds, 7.6 minutes

12. Josh Reed (6-7, 210, Fr.)

247Sports Composite #150 overall rated recruit

Team MVP: David Dejulius

As the main cog in the Wes Miller machine, David Dejulius was a transfer from Michigan and has been the critical piece for this Cincinnati Bearcats offense. Bringing his leadership and scoring ability is a massive part of this team’s success.

Dejulius was the Bearcats’ leading scorer last season and I expect a couple of additional scoring threats to help him relax and let the game come back to him. Having the extra help, Dejulius is poised to be a star and will likely gain a few looks in the NBA. He creates shots, can read defenses, is a leader, and finds teammates for open shots.

Make-or-Break-Player: Landers Nolley

Landers Nolley is on to his third school. Starting his career as a Virginia Tech Hokie, he redshirted his first year and then became a starter. After one year, he was recruited by Penny Hardaway to play for Memphis. Being a part of a very talented squad for two years, the turmoil that came about moved him into a conference rival in the Bearcats.

Miller hopefully has a plan to boost Nolley’s confidence and become the player he was in his first two years of college. Another player that will be a crucial cog for this machine, the Cincinnati Bearcats, will need him to shine. Nolley will need to be the defender that scares people, the offensive weapon you can’t lose track of, and the player that beats you to the ball. Last season hurt his NBA stock. This year could be a change that could make him a better player and an NBA prospect. Nolley has the skillset, but it will need to be on display for the Bearcats.

Analytic to Know: 302nd in offensive field goal efficiency in 2021-22

The glaring stat for the Cincinnati Bearcats was the team’s poor shooting efficiency. The Bearcats shot at 46.9% offensive field goal efficiency, which was the 302nd best last season. The team also shot 67.2% (318th) from the free throw line, 46.7% (295th) from the field, and 31.4% (282nd) from downtown.

These things can easily be fixed, and I expect it will be a focus for Coach Miller. I would expect the shooting coach to spend all year helping the Bearcats on their form and hoping some better ball movement will improve all of these numbers. Of course, the free throw line is all about practice!

Team Outlook

The Cincinnati Bearcats are coming in with a nice opening schedule that leads into the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. This side of the bracket that Cincinnati has a chance to play includes its first game against Arizona, then Ohio State or San Diego State, and could play for the championship against Texas Tech, Arkansas, Creighton, or Louisville.

The other resume builders in the out-of-conference games are Bryant, Cleveland State, Miami (OH), and Xavier.

There are a few opportunities that could benefit the Bearcats with quadrant one and two wins. The plus is that the first part of their season starts with teams that allow the squad to gel and flow as a unit. Coach Miller has work to do before heading to Maui and will be fine-tuning all year.

Projected Conference Finish: 3rd in the American Athletic Conference

Projected Postseason Finish: NCAA Tournament Round of 64 Exit

Ceiling: NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Exit