Dyer: UC-bound Cumberland living up to hype

Posted at 7:00 AM, Feb 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 13:50:42-05

WILMINGTON, Ohio - Wilmington High School senior shooting guard Jarron Cumberland is our area’s best chance to win Ohio's Mr. Basketball in March.

Take a look at the numbers and the performance on the floor. The resume for the University of Cincinnati signee speaks for itself.

And he certainly has the strong endorsement of UC basketball coach Mick Cronin.

“I said earlier in the year that he is the best player in Ohio,” Cronin told this week.

“That is with all due respect to Nick Ward (Gahanna Lincoln power forward and Michigan State signee) who I think the world of as a kid. Jarron is a top 50 player in the country.”

At 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, Cumberland has drawn the spotlight everywhere he plays for the Hurricane (21-1) this season.

He averages 29.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 3.4 assists entering Saturday’s Division I sectional game against Harrison (7-15) at Fairfield (5 p.m. tipoff).

Cumberland's 2,203 career points rank No. 23 all-time on the Ohio High School Athletic Association scoring list. Wilmington is 79-12 in games Cumberland has played in the past four seasons.

Last week, Cumberland scored a single-game school record 52 points to go along with nine rebounds, seven steals and six assists in a win over Washington Court House. He followed that two days later with 37 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals in a 60-47 win over Springfield.

“Jarron has had a tremendous year,” Cronin said. “Not a surprise to me because I got a chance to see him play a lot in the last two summers. I could really see him coming into his own as a player with his confidence.”

Cumberland signed with the Bearcats in November 2015 after he verbally committed July 1. He also had offers from the likes of Xavier, Butler, Purdue, Florida State, West Virginia and Nevada. Michigan was close to offering as well.

“He’s definitely the best player in Ohio and we are lucky to have him,” Cronin said.

Cumberland liked the way Cronin operated in the recruiting process. The UC coach was patient and didn’t put undue pressure on Cumberland. In the end, the Bearcats were a natural fit.

“The thing about Jarron is he’s not a one-dimensional player,” Cronin said this week. “He’s a very good passer. He can make open shots. He’s a freight train going to the basket.”

Cumberland’s toughness speaks volumes. He can dominate inside in the high school game and has the body to compete right away at the collegiate level.

“Most kids at the Division I level – the physicality gap is an issue,” Cronin said. “It won’t be for Jarron. It will actually help him because the game is more physical. He will be able to be in his more natural state so to speak.”

The Associated Press Mr. Basketball Award will likely be announced the week of March 14. If Cumberland wins, it would be the first time this area would have three consecutive winners (Franklin's Luke Kennard won in 2014 and 2015).

This week, Cumberland was named the District 15 Coaches’ Association Division I player of the year. But, any additional accolades can wait. 

The main focus is the tournament.

Wilmington has an 84-15 record during Cumberland’s career, according to coach Mike Noszka. Wilmington has been to three consecutive district finals and has three consecutive seasons of at least 20 wins. A lot of that is attributed to Cumberland.

“He scores, he rebounds, he assists the basketball, he blocks,” Noszka said. “…He’s our Mr. Basketball.”