The University of Cincinnati basketball team has played host to 3 players over 7 feet tall. This season, they will add the biggest and hopefully best. Former West Virginia recruit David Nyarsuk has officially been signed and cleared to play. He didn't have the best of test scores to get into West Virginia. Before you go "Wait, it takes good test scores to get into West Virginia?" Remember that David is from the Sudan. English probably isn't his first language. It certainly isn't the first language in West Virginia. David is 7 feet, one inch tall. Here is a picture of him being tall.
Nyarsuk doesn't have that big a legacy to live up to. The 3 other footers to come to UC were Marty Dow, Mike Reicheneker and Biggie McClain. Dow played 1 season for the Bearcats. He put up the amazing stat line of 1.1 points and 1.7 rebounds. He blocked a lot of shots we would think, but in reality he only blocked 2. He was not very good. That's why he only played 17 games. I'm pretty sure that Mike "Rock" Reicheneker was a walk on. He had an ok first season, 1.3 points, 1.5 rebounds, 15-29 from the field, but he was 6-21 his second year. Speaking of 6-20 something, he was 6-22 from the foul line. Biggie McClain averaged a shade under 3 and 3 his best season. He blocked 26 shots in 31 games.
Mountain State is where David played last year. He averaged 19.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. Overall, he was a 10-8-2 block player. He does one thing very well so far and that's block shots. Being 7-1 and not having 2 left feet is good enough to score 20 points in lower division basketball. Nyarsuk was a relatively highly ranked recruit when he signed with the Mountaineers. ESPN had him as the 19th ranked center in 2010. Again I ask you to temper your expectations because let's remember that Biggie McClain was the 8th ranked center and the 56th ranked prospect overall when he came to UC. We kind of know where this story is going to end.
Mick Cronin is quoted in the linked piece earlier saying that Nyarsuk's strengths are "catching lobs, finishing around the rim and making free throws. He made over 70 percent from the line. He’s not a guy that you’re going to throw the ball to 15 times a game but that’s not what we need in our style. We need a shot blocker and a rebounder and that’s what he is.”
Catching lobs is fine. He does that some in a video I'm going to post in a couple minutes. Finishing around the rim has been a UC center problem since the late 1950s it seems. The free throw shooting is a nice little stat. What I think is going to happen here is that Nyarsuk will never get to the line. For some comparison, Cheikh Mbodj got to the line 18 times all of last season. I compare these players not because they are both African centers, stop being racist, but because Nyarsuk will probably play no more than the 9.7 minutes a game Mbodj got last year. Mick called Nyarsuk a rebounder, but that certainly does not look like the case at all. You and I both see 8 rebounds. That is not indicative of a player that kills on the glass. Especially one so tall. He didn't even average 10 boards in high school. I'm not calling Mick a liar, but I am saying that David Nyarsuk will never average 8 rebounds as a Bearcat. He has 2 seasons to go as a Cat, and I don't think he'll average 8 rebounds total. I'm not trying to be a negative nelly hater, but he's 7-1 and didn't dominate the glass against division 2 players. He's not going to play a ton of minutes. It's simple math.
The shot blocking part of Cronin's quote I think could be accomplished. Nyarsuk blocked 90 and 102 shots. He's 7-1. If he sticks his arms in the air against the Chicago State's of the world, he should be able to block 2 or 3 shots in a game. Even in under 10 minutes of playing time. Blocking shots takes a lot of skill, but it helps if you are abnormally tall. If you are abnormally tall with skill, you can block a great number of shots.
It sounds like I'm not very excited about David Nyarsuk because I keep putting him down at every turn. That's a good reason to think that. If David is not very good, or even if he is, I can picture a lot of people calling him Nyarsuck. People are jerks. I don't know if David has been playing with the team at all, you know running open courts, putting up shots and all that jazz, but even if he has, expectations have to be tempered this season. First off, Justin Jackson or Cheikh Mbodj are going to start. The other will be the first man off the bench. From what buzz we've heard about both, Mbodj has lost a lot of weight, it sounds like Nyarsuk is quickly down to the 3rd big man option. Kelvin Gaines could have gotten better, we don't know. They should battle for minutes. UC is going to probably play a much smaller lineup than we have seen. Like I said earlier, Mbodj played 9 minutes last year. I expect around that for Nyarsuk. Maybe he'll be the best 7 footer in UC history. The bar is not that heigh. I'll look like a genius for reverse jinxing him. David Nyarsuk is a Bearcat. For that, I love him unconditionally. Welcome to the team.
Here is video of David against Morehead State. The two pictures are from Slam and BlueGoldNews.com. Thanks.