CINCINNATI — After eight long months, the Cincinnati men’s basketball team will tip-off its 2022-23 season on Monday night when it welcomes Chaminade to Fifth Third Arena at 7 p.m.
Cincinnati brings a clean slate into its 2022-23 season, its second under head coach Wes Miller, by returning 75.6 percent of its scoring, 61.1 percent of its rebounding and 67.7 percent of its assists. The Bearcats, who returned every starter except center Abdul Ado, also welcomed three fifth-year transfers in point guard Rob Phinisee (Indiana), shooting guard Landers Nolley II (Memphis) and power forward Kalu Ezikpe (Old Dominion).
David DeJulius returns as a Preseason All-AAC selection after earning Third Team honors last season. The Bearcats were on the bubble during AAC play last year, sitting as high as No. 67 in the NET with a 15-6 record heading into a home showdown with No. 6 Houston. UC set school records for three-point makes (269) and attempts (853), and last year made 16 against Memphis (Jan. 9) and Tulsa (Jan. 20) to tie for fourth in single-season history. Jeremiah Davenport returns after hitting 83 treys, the most since Sean Kilpatrick in 2013-14, and he was fourth in the AAC for percentage (35.9) and makes. UC also brings back starters John Newman III and Mika Adams-Woods, the latter a three-year starter.
UC plays 18 home games this year and has won 12 of its last 13 Fifth Third Arena home openers, with its only-such loss in 2018. Cincinnati’s 5-0 start last year, capped by a 71-51 win over No. 14 Illinois, gave Miller the best undefeated start of any first-year UC coach. This is an exhibition for Chaminade, which previously played Tuesday at Ohio State (L, 57-101) and Louisville on Thursday, which it led with six minutes left before falling 80-73.
YOUNG, WILD AND FREE
Miller is the nation’s winningest head coach under 40.
In fact, Miller already has the most Division I wins of any active coach by their 40th birthday, which he will celebrate Jan. 28.
COACH (CURRENT SCHOOL) WINS
Wes Miller (Cincinnati) – 203
Rick Pitino (Iona) – 200
Shaka Smart (Marquette) – 195
Cliff Ellis (Coastal Carolina) – 192
Bob Huggins (West Virginia) – 191
Bill Self (Kansas) – 190
Herb Sendek (Santa Clara) – 186
John Calipari (Kentucky) – 185
Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) – 182
BRINGING IN WINNERS
Out of the three transfers, all fifth-years, that Cincinnati signed this offseason, all of them have proven track records of success and NCAA Tourney appearances.
Phinisee, an Indiana captain, helped Indiana go 72-57 and make the NCAA Tournament last season, Mike Woodson’s first at the school.
Nolley II helped Memphis to a 42-19 ledger over two years, grabbing NIT Most Outstanding Player honors in 2021 as the Tigers claimed the title, then helping Memphis to nearly knocking off No. 1 Gonzaga in last year’s NCAA Second Round.
Ezikpe was also a captain at Old Dominion, helping the Monarchs to a 67-55 record and the 2019 Conference USA title.
Adams-Woods has had the nickname “Shoey” since his AAU days, when he was described as keeping the ball on a string and taking opponents’ shoelaces.
He and Davenport are the only four-year members of the program, and he has started 66 of 83 games played. Adams-Woods had a 2.81 assist-turnover ratio last season, which ranked 15th nationally and second in the AAC. It was the highest clip since Troy Caupain (3.36 and fifth) in 2016-17. Shoey also had three turnovers over his final seven games, 190 minutes in all.
DAVENPORT CHASING 1K
Davenport enters the season with 734 points for his hometown Bearcats, seeking to become the school’s 55th member of the club. The last entry was Keith Williams (1,156 from 2017-21), whom Davenport played with his first two years.
In fact, Davenport ranks high in the AAC for most points at his current school.
PLAYER (SCHOOL) – POINTS
Jaylen Forbes (Tulane) – 856
Marcus Sasser (Houston) – 854
Jeremiah Davenport (Cincinnati) – 734
Alex Lomax (Memphis) – 674
David DeJulius (Cincinnati) – 653
Mika Adams-Woods (Cincinnati) – 627
DeJulius, named to the league’s Third Team and picked to this year’s Second-Team, led the Bearcats in scoring (14.5 ppg) and free-throw percentage (82.4 percent, sixth in the AAC), energizing the team on both ends of the floor. The Detroit native produced 10, 20-point games, including seven against AAC foes.
The most-notable element of DeJulius’ season has been his improvements from last year, namely his improvements in field-goal percentage (4.9 percent), three-pointers (9.4 percent), free-throws (4.9 percent) and scoring (5.4 ppg).
COURTESY CINCINNATI ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS