Scouting Cincinnati: A deep, balanced attack awaits the Coogs

Scouting Cincinnati: A deep, balanced attack awaits the Coogs


Cincinnati is 17 points away from being undefeated in the Big 12. Every game they have played has been close, including a 5-point loss at Kansas. The Bearcats and the Houston Cougars are very similar teams, and this game could come down to which team is toughest on Saturday.

I studied Cincinnati’s last two games vs. West Virginia and Texas Tech for this scouting report.

the daily #190 | 2/10/2024 | Archives

Cincinnati Overview

Cincinnati Head Coach Wes Miller is building a program in the same mold as the Houston Cougars. He emphasized recruiting elite rebounding this off-season. The additions of #55 Aziz Bandaogo (Utah Valley transfer) and #13 Jamille Reynolds (Temple transfer) have been essential for the Bearcats to help returner #30 Viktor Lakhin rebound and defend the post. They are a much improved defending team over their squad from last season.

The Bearcats don’t have an elite scorer that most Big 12 teams trot out. They have several guys that average 10-12 points, and any of them could lead Cincinnati in scoring on any given night. Butler transfer #41 Simon Lukosius is a deadly shooter and a three-level scorer.

I would not be surprised to see Kentucky transfer and sharp-shooter #5 CJ Fredrick Jr. return after missing several games with a hamstring injury. #1 Day Day Thomas, #15 John Newman III (Clemson transfer), #2 Jizzle James, and #0 Dan Skillings Jr. are legit scoring guards who could lead the team on any night.

Bandaogo, Reynolds, and Lakhin are all solid post-players who can score in their own way. Bandaogo specializes in lob opportunities and scoring off of offensive rebounding put-backs. They look for Reynolds in the low post early and often when he comes off the bench. Lahkin is a threat from inside or from beyond the arc. He has been struggling for a few games, so I’d expect them to try to get him going.

I expect a close game. It will be a “Black Out” game, and the fans will be primed for an upset. I expect it to be an absolute war!

Head of the Snake

For the first time this season, I couldn’t decide who the “Head of the Snake” was for Cincinnati. They don’t have any superstars, but they have a team that could pull the upset. As mentioned above, UC has 7-8 guys that could lead them in scoring on any given day. Since we always do it, I will choose defensive specialist Aziz Bandaogo as the “Head of the Snake.”

Bandaogo isn’t a guy you throw the ball in the post and let him go to work on offense, like a Hunter Dickinson. He does the dirty work in the post on defense and on the offensive glass. His guards reward him by tossing him alley-oop lobs. He’s a legit 7′ post presence that can block or affect anything that comes his way on defense.

Bandaogo is a menace on the offensive boards, and the Coogs will need five players crashing the defensive glass to slow him down. He would’ve been a great Coog! He loves to slap the ball out if he can’t get both hands on it, which is precisely how Coach Sampson teaches it.

Cincinnati Offense

Cincinnati is not an elite offensive team. They do a great job of getting extra opportunities via offensive rebounding. They have several guys that can score in numerous ways, but none average over 12 points per game. I expect Saturday to be a rock fight, and I predict both teams will be in the 60’s.

  • Ranked #30 nationally in bench points per game, averaging 27.95;
  • Ranked #9 nationally in offensive rebounds per game, averaging 14.32. Houston is ranked #5 at 14.77;

Cincinnati Defense

As discussed above, they are a great defensive and rebounding team. It should be a battle of two Goliaths on defense.

  • Only saw them play halfcourt M2M defense in the two games I studied;
  • Ranked #5 nationally in total rebounds per game, averaging 41.36. #1 rebounding team in the Big 12;

Cincinnati Personnel (* Indicates probable starters)

*#1 Day Day Thomas 6’0″ Jr. – 11ppg, 2rpg (Kilgore JC)

  • Smaller point guard;
  • Capable three-level scorer;
  • Decent three-point shooter;
  • Solid pull-up jumper;
  • Can get to the basket


*#15 John Newman III 6’5″ Gr. – 10ppg, 5rpg (Clemson)

  • LEFTY;
  • Solid at driving to the basket;
  • Capable three-point shooter


*#41 Simas Lukosius- 6’8″ Jr. – 10ppg, 3rpg (Butler)

  • Tall three-level scoring guard;
  • Outstanding three-point shooter; Can shoot from DEEP;
  • Solid pull-up jumper;
  • Capable of getting to the basket;
  • Will post up vs a mismatch


*#55 Aziz Bandaogo (Pronounced: Ban-Day-Go) 7’0″ Sr. – 8ppg, 8rpg (Utah Valley)

  • Long very athletic post player;
  • Highly coveted transfer;
  • Terrific shot blocker;
  • Solid in the pick and roll;
  • Not overly skilled on offense; Scores mainly off of lobs and put-backs


*#30 Viktor Lakhin 6’11” RS Jr. – 12ppg, 7rpg

  • Multi-scoring big man;
  • Capable of making the three-pointer;
  • Solid in the post;
  • Didn’t play well in the two games I watched. He also played less than 18 minutes in either game. He is a solid player, but he seems banged up recently


#0- Dan Skillings Jr. 6’6″ So. – 12ppg, 6rpg

  • Very athletic wing;
  • Plays starter minutes;
  • Solid at attacking the rim;
  • Not a great, but capable three-point shooter;
  • They love to get him basket cuts


#2 Jizzle James 6’1″ Fr. – 7ppg, 2rpg

  • Talented freshman guard;
  • Son of NFL HOF’er Edgerrin James;
  • Solid three-point shooter;
  • Good shooter off the bounce


#13 Jamille Reynolds 6’11” Sr. – 5ppg, 4rpg (Temple)

  • BIG body/post player;
  • I really liked him at Temple;
  • Solid in the post; They look for him often when he’s in;
  • Good shot blocker


#33 Ody Oguama 6’9″ Gr. – 3ppg, 3rpg (Wake Forest)

  • Long post player;
  • Best around the rim.


#10 Josh Reed 6’7″ So. – 2ppg, 2rpg

  • Long defensive specialist;
  • LEFTY.


#5 CJ Fredrick 6’3″ Gr. – 8ppg, 1rpg (Kentucky)

  • Has missed a few games with a hamstring injury. Practiced this week and likely to play Saturday;
  • Outstanding three-point shooter;

Keys to Victory

  1. Defensive Rebounding. The Coogs must own the defensive glass to win this game. Cincinnati is a phenomenal offensive-rebounding team and, like the Coogs, loves to slap the ball out when they can’t grab the rebound. It will take all five Coogs squad members on the floor to rebound in this one.
  2. Solid defense. They don’t have an elite offense. If the Coogs can focus on slowing down anyone who gets hot for them, I love their chances. The goal should be to hold them in the 50’s.
  3. Toughest team wins. Who will be the first on the floor for a loose ball? Who will win the battle of the boards? Who will take the big charge on defense? Who will hit the “sit down and shut up” shot to end their run? These are the things I will be watching closely. They may just be what pulls out a gritty win.
  4. Control their runs. Basketball is a game of runs. They are going to make some runs, especially at home. The Coogs need Shead, Cryer, and Sharp to make daggers to shut up their crowd. There’s no need to panic if UC makes a run. Patience and toughness will be key to winning this road game.


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Jayme Hollingsworth
Jayme Hollingsworth
Jayme is's new basketball scouting editor. He was born and raised in Alabama but now lives in Houston. He's a former video coordinator/scouting coordinator at UAB and a former high school basketball coach. He's the husband to Mallory and pug dad to Charlee.

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