As a senior at Cosby HS near Richmond, VA last year, Troy Caupain averaged 27 points and 15 rebounds. But when he joins the Bearcats this fall, Caupain will be looking to pile up assists since he is expected to play point guard at the college level.
"We were able to see Troy enough to realize that this guy is a point guard," said UC head coach Mick Cronin. "He's 6'3" and he's still only 17; he won't turn 18 until six or seven games into the season. But he's a natural point guard. It's the one position - kind of like quarterback in football - where there are probably some things that you're just born with. He's comfortable with the ball in his hands and he sees the entire court."
Caupain says that Coach Cronin wasn't the first person to see point guard potential in his future.
"My uncle realized it was time to be a guard because I wasn't going to be 6'8" or taller," said Caupain. "So he worked with me to build up my ball handling, my basketball IQ, and my court awareness. I took it to mean that I was going to be a point guard and ever since then, I dedicated myself toward doing that every time that I went to the gym."
"I remember recruiting Kenny Satterfield and a lot of the services said that he wasn't a point guard because he was 6'2" and he scored a lot of points in high school," said Cronin. "But when you watch a guy play, you can see what he's comfortable with and it really wasn't a hard thing with Troy. When the ball is in his hands he's very comfortable and he doesn't really feel pressure. When some guys get pressured, they put their head down, they get nervous, and they speed up. When Troy sees pressure it doesn't rattle him. He just makes a simple pass and is calm with the ball."
Caupain was named the Player of the Year in Richmond last year and finished his career as his school's all-time leader in scoring average and rebounds. That led to comparisons to a former DePaul star that spent 17 years in the NBA.
"People tell me that I remind them of Rod Strickland back when he played for the Wizards," said Caupain. "He was a floor general on the court - he could get a bucket when his team needed it, but he looked to involve his teammates. I like to smile, be a leader, and get my teammates involved in the game.
"When I was young, (Strickland's) son played on my little cousin's AAU team, so I used to see him all the time and we used to go to his house and play basketball and stuff."
Caupain's ability to find open teammates figures to put him in the mix to replace Cashmere Wright as Cincinnati's starting point guard.
Does Troy expect to win the job?
"That's not my call," Caupain told me. "But I'm working hard to try to earn that spot - yes."
"I'm excited about him because he's going to make other guys better," said Cronin. "That's the key. He's going to get other guys a lot of easy baskets."
I'd love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net
If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_HoardAnd I'm on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1