A few weeks before the spring signing period began, Mick Cronin hinted on a local radio station that there would be some surprises in store for Bearcat fans come April 15. Well, April 15 has come and gone, and with the signing period ending next week (May 20) it’s nearly time to panic.
One of Cronin’s prized recruits last year was 7-foot-3 John Riek, who never got on the court for the Bearcats. Riek spent the year rehabbing his knee, and due to some weird NCAA paperwork/eligibility issues found himself uncommitted to UC this spring. He surprisingly signed with
the University of Mississippi Mississippi State this month, leaving UC without the giant dude it was expecting to put up front with sophomore Yancy Gates.
Rumors suggested that the ’Cats had been in the mix for a few names among the best uncommitted high school seniors — including point guards and small forwards — but most have made their choices. And no announcements have been made by UC.
Right now Cronin’s lone recruit is 6-foot-5 shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick, who reports say is a solid all-around player, a good scorer and someone who can contribute in his first season. But he’s not going to be a game-changer and he’s not a backup point guard. The addition of transfer Ibrahima Thomas will offset the loss of Mike Williams, maybe even improve the team a bit, but not enough to get excited about. Cashmere Wright will be healthy by the time the season starts, but the fact that he’s coming off ACL surgery will leave this year’s team as susceptible to injury as last year’s.
Cronin needed this year’s class to be big — bigger than 7-foot-3 — and the addition of a healthy and academically qualified Reik and a top point guard or swingman would have done it. As talented as Gates and Deonta Vaughn are, they can’t carry the team without a solid surrounding cast, and preferably a deep one.
These days it doesn’t seem like there’s anyone out there who can make the 2009 class remotely close to what it needs to be in order for UC to improve upon last year’s Big East middle-ground toils. It’s assumed that Cronin will grab a couple solid players before officially announcing the additions for next year. But the longer we wait, the worse it seems things are going. We’ll find out on Wednesday.