Thursday became an unexpectedly busy day for UC basketball. Just when you think nobody will be paying attention to the program for a while, they sign a 6-9 F/C to fill the final scholarship.
His name is Cheikh Mbodj, a huge win for Mick Cronin, a huge loss for my spellcheck.
Cronin has been searching tirelessly for a big man to fill the holes in the front line since the other five members of the recruiting class were announced last year. Specifically, he needed a player to replace Ibrahima Thomas in the middle. Mbodj, a long (7-foot-4 wingspan), athletic big appears to be a Thomas replica -- all the way down to the home of Dakar, Senegal. In fact, Thomas played a significant role in landing Mbodj, according to Chad Brendel.
"Cheikh is a great addition for us," said UC head coach Mick Cronin. "We lost three seniors on our front line and we needed to add a veteran player. Cheikh is a perfect fit. He is the nicest young man I've ever recruited as well as a gifted frontcourt player. We have developed a very close-knit basketball team and Cheikh will fit right in with his positive attitude."
To be fair, I've never watched Mbodj, from Grayson County (Texas) College. Yet, from all accounts, he will be much like Thomas, only less raw offensively. In fact, his coach at Grayson, Pat Rafferty, said his offense was less like typical African players and more European. This from a post by Adam Zagoria.
"He's kind of a hybrid four," Rafferty said. "He's become really solid and versatile. He's got a nice skill-set. There are some things that he can do with his back to the basket. He's really good in space. He has good skills, is a good passer. He's just solid. He's a nice fit for the guys that they've got coming back in terms of his ability to pass and defend and effect the game with his length.He's got some qualities about him you might expect from a European-type player."
Mbodj averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game for Grayson last season. The team went 20-11. Mbodj may be slightly thicker than Thomas on the inside and Cronin told Bill Koch he hopes Mbodj will put on 10 pounds or so of muscle once he arrives.
Most of the questions I received following this was on the status of signing other recruits with Mbodj taking up the final spot. All 13 scholarships have now been filled. The only way another player could be added to the roster is if a current player/commit transferred or was declared academically ineligible.
Those situations aren't without precedent. As one Twitter follower (follow me) pointed out yesterday, just look at Aaron McGhee and Dermarr Johnson back in 1999. When Bob Huggins landed Johnson, McGhee transferred to a community college with the concept that he would return as soon as a spot opened back up for him. Of course, eventually McGhee moved on to Oklahoma to have an extremely productive career. Point being, creative things can happen if a top player decides to jump aboard at the last moment. To speculate what any of those things would be at this point would be wrong and unnecessary. As would insuiating Cronin would attempt any creative moves to fit in a possible new recruit. Nobody truly knows the situation except the coach himself.
Bottom line, this signing makes the class of Jermaine Sanders, Shaq Thomas, Ge'Lawn Guyn, Jermaine Davis and Octavius Ellis not only impactful but well-rounded. The same can now be said about the 2011-2012 Bearcats.
--- Butch Jones and unanimously beloved coach Brian Kelly (*searches for sarcasm font*) attended the roast of Jeff Ruby last night. The roasters also included Brent Musburger (emcee), Nick Lachey, Marty Brennaman, Dusty Baker, Marvin Lewis, Cris Collinsworth, former NFL players Paul Hornung and Phil Villapiano.
Shockingly, Lachey delivered some of the best lines of the night. Not shockingly, that was because he asked hilarious comedian and noted Cincinnatian Josh Sneed to help him with the jokes.
I'd imagine most Bearcats fans will give this one the winner:
Lachey on why Kelly attended: "He's here because he thought Carson (Palmer) was going to be here. He wanted to trade notes with Carson on the best way to stab a community in the back."
Here's The Enquirer's list of other jabs taken by the roasters and Ruby. Also, apparently Marvin Lewis put on quite a show. As someone whose endured plenty of Marv pressers and would prefer to have my finger slammed in a car door than transcribe it, I can only call this the biggest upset since Gordon Bombay's ragtag collection of kids took down Jack Reilly's defending champs in Mighty Ducks.
Of course, anytime I hear about amateur roasts I can't help but remember the episode of The Office where Michael Scott roasts his employees. Boom! Roasted.
--- Back to the field, Jones spent the afternoon taking part in spring practice No. 10 on Thursday. Tommy G tracked him down and used the phrase cou d'etat. Jones talks specifically about what will be happening at Bearcats Bowl V on Saturday.
--- TG also caught up with co-defensive coordinator Tim Banks who talks about the progress of the defense this spring.
--- Defensive line coach Steve Stripling was mic'd up for a recent practice. The results were predictably cool.
--- This is NBA Draft declaration season, as far as we can tell no Bearcats are even testing the waters. However, UC's chances of taking the next step in the Big East could be increased or diminished depending on the decisions of Terrance Jennings and Carleton Scott, who both are testing.
--- Certainly, UC's chances of defending the Crosstown Shootout title would be greatly increased if Tu Holloway ends up in the draft. My gut says Tu returns because his size probably keeps him out of the first round, Jeff Goodman agrees, but if Holloway goes it will be a brutal blow for the Muskies. When Jordan Crawford left, Holloway was there to take over as the go-to scorer. I don't know where they turn if Holloway goes pro.
--- On to some randomness...
--- Met a guy from Orlando last night who is a Gators fan and when the first topic I brought up was jorts he was shocked that it was even a big deal up here. Jorts may have spread everywhere, and will be helped by Kentucky's Josh Harrellson pulling off this sweet "Jorts Tour," but Gainesville will always be the Grandaddy of the jort.
--- Fantastic episode of Community (the best sitcom on television) last night. "My mind is as open as Mona's bedroom door." Ned Ryerson (Needlenose Ned, Ned the head) even showed up to play a genius character. Then he wrote this essay about it.
--- This high schooler puts in all the hard work of acquiring a college girlfriend and can't even show her off at prom? America can kind of suck sometimes.
--- The Verizon "Can you hear me now?" guy thought that commerical would be a nice break. Turns out it ruined his life for nine years.
--- You poor folks without DirecTv get to enjoy the first episode of Friday Night Lights final season on NBC. I wish I could go back in your shows and watch for the first time again. Fantastic final season.