The 21-year-old from Wilmington, Ohio, nicknamed “Teddy” by players past, has had quite the junior year for the Bearcats this season. Largely playing a reserve role off the bench, UC fans saw glimpses of what #34 could be the past two seasons, especially against Xavier. Built like an NFL tight end at 6’ 5” and a broad-shouldered 200+ lbs., Cumberland could always score and fly down the court. Prior to this season, concerns about Jarron’s play typically centered around his defensive capacity (or effort) and his propensity to find himself in foul trouble (mainly from steamrolling defenders on his way to the hoop). However, the 2019 season has yielded a different Jarron.
After losing two of the best Bearcats in recent memory to the NBA, many were concerned who account for all of the points UC lost after Jacob Evans and Gary Clark transitioned to play professional basketball. It’s safe to say, Jarron Cumberland has embraced lost points burden right away and continues to shoulder it each outing.
Recognized as the AAC Player of the Week (or receiving an AAC Honor Roll mention) for what feels like every single week of this season, Jarron is playing impeccably well. He leads all AAC scorers averaging 22 points during conference play. He’s led UC in scoring for 10 out of the 11 conference games. He is listed among league leaders in minutes played, three-pointers made, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio, three-point percentage, free throw percentage, and rebounds. On the year (including pre-conference games), Cumberland is averaging 19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal per game.
This week, he was named as one of 30 players to the 2019 Citizen Naismith Trophy Midseason Team. Last week, Cumberland was named one of the final 10 nominees for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year. In January, Jarron was tabbed to the Lute Olson Player of the Year Midseason Watch List. During most of the recent tight games, he’s also been recognized as the 2019 Bearcats Sports Radio Please Lord Let Jarron Help Us Pull This One Out award. The honors keep coming, it seems…
The Bearcats have relied heavily on #34 in every conference game and he has stepped up to the plate down the stretch. It has been incredibly exciting to watch Cumberland take over games of late. He is living up to the spotlight and exceeding even our highest expectations. The question will soon become what is next for this monster of a collegiate basketball player?
Last fall, Cumberland was projected as an early second round NBA draft pick (#34 by Sports Illustrated and #37 by The Sporting News). While I imagine his draft stock has improved based on how he’s performed this season (and will improve even more if the Bearcats make a deep run in March), it’s difficult to forecast how scouts will handicap his upside. But, can you imagine what #34 could do during his senior campaign after the way he’s played his entire junior year? Let’s hope we see him back in the red and black in 2020.
By Andy Smith