Big 12 Basketball

Big 12 Portal Thoughts: Cincinnati Men Loading Up for 2024-25

Cincinnati Bearcats guard Dan Skillings Jr. (0) hits a layup around Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Javon Small (12) and Oklahoma State Cowboys center Brandon Garrison (23) as Cincinnati Bearcats forward Aziz Bandaogo (55) looks on in the first half of the NCAA basketball game between Cincinnati Bearcats and Oklahoma State Cowboys at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.

The Cincinnati Bearcats men’s basketball team just missed the NCAA Tournament in their first year in the Big 12 Conference, making a run to the quarterfinals of the NIT.

The Bearcats have been working this offseason to ensure they don’t have another near-miss next season.

In this edition of Portal Thoughts we take a look at where Cincinnati is now and what’s left to do this offseason.


Cincinnati’s Losses (4)

Cincinnati will be without four players from last year’s roster, three of which were listed as graduate students and likely out of eligibility.

Guard John Newman III is the player the Bearcats will miss the most next season, as he averaged nearly 10 points and started all 37 games. The Bearcats do have the depth to deal with his departure.

Forward Ody Oguama started eight of the 28 games he played and averaged 2.3 points and 2.3 rebounds.

Guards Landen Long and Chase Kirkwood barely played a season ago. Kirkwood was a junior but he was also a walk-on.  

Cincinnati’s Transfer Losses (3)

Given how things work these days, losing three players to the portal is a win. But two played significant roles last season.

Forward Viktor Lakhin is headed to Clemson after averaged 9.2 points and 6.0 rebounds as he started 24 of the 29 games he played.

Forward Jamille Reynolds averaged 5.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 14 minutes per game. Reynolds has not landed at a new school.

Forward Sage Tolentino, who only played in five games last year, transferred to UNC-Asheville.


Cincinnati’s NBA Early Entries (1)

Forward Aziz Bandaogo was on the NBA early entry list when it was released in late April. He is maintaining his eligibility and is expected to return to Cincinnati unless there is a substantial change in his draft stock. This is clearly an opportunity to get his report card and learn more about what he needs to work on in order to get ready to take another shot next year.

Cincinnati’s Transfer Gains (3)

The Bearcats have picked up three transfer commitments, including one of from a Big 12 program on the way out.

Forward Dillon Mitchell committed to the Bearcats last week. The former Texas star played two seasons for the Longhorns and averaged 9.6 points and 7.5 rebounds. He still has plenty of ceiling as a player.

Bradley guard Connor Hickman comes to Cincinnati after he averaged 14.5 points last season. He was a 40.2% shooter from the 3-point line.

Forward Arrinten Page comes from USC after he averaged 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds. He’ll give the Bearcats additional depth in the paint and a player to develop down the road as he’s a second-year college player.

Cincinnati’s Recruiting Gains (2)

According to 247Sports the Bearcats have two Top 100, four-star recruits coming in the fall.

Tyler Betsey is a 6-foot-8 small forward from St. Thomas More (Oakdale, CT) who is a Top 50 player in the final 2024 rankings. Another forward, 6-foot-8 Tyler McKinley, is a local kid who went to Winton Woods High school. He was ranked No. 78 by


Set to Return (9)

Assuming Bandaogo returns as expected, the Bearcats will be loaded with nine returning players, which will include five of their seven leading scorers from last season.

Foremost among them is guard Dan Skillings Jr. His game and his stature in the game took a leap after he averaged 12.9 points and 6.4 rebounds, emerging as a full-time starter late in the season.

Guard/forward Simas Lukošius is back after he averaged 11.8 points. He was the Bearcats’ leader in made 3-pointers by a wide margin.

Guard Day Day Thomas became more relied upon as last season progressed, to the point where he led the team with 116 assists. His scoring grew too, as he averaged 10.4 points.

Guard Jizzle James (8.8 points) — the son of NFL legend Edgerrin James —  should challenge for more playing time in a crowded backcourt. Bandaogo would return having averaged more rebounds (7.4) than points (6.6) last season.

Guards C.J. Fredrick Jr., Josh Reed and CJ Anthony will get a shot at more playing time. Fredrick is worth tracking as he missed most of last season due to an injury but he can light it up from the 3-point line.

Guard/forward Rayvon Griffith, a local player from Taft High School, will get his first chance to play after he redshirted last season.

What’s Left?

Right now, nothing. The Bearcats have 14 players heading in for 2024-25. The transfers make the frontcourt deeper and the 3-point shooting better. Skillings is one of the nation’s rising stars and Lukošius could end up being the best 3-point shooter in the conference. This is a team built to be dangerous once Big 12 play starts in late December.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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