When Bearcats fans get their first look at Cane Broome next year, many will be reminded of former UC star Nick Van Exel. Like “Nick the Quick,” Broome is a speedy lefty point guard with the ability to score in bunches.
“I’ve been coaching for more than 30 years now and coached some pretty good players at some pretty good programs and he is as fast of a player as I’ve ever coached,” said assistant coach Larry Davis. “It’s unbelievable how fast he is with the ball. He’ll be fun to watch. He’s like the wind – you can’t catch him.”
“There’s definitely a comparison to Nick with his ability to be quick and shifty with the ball,” said head coach Mick Cronin. “They are what I would call ‘escape artists.’ Speed is one thing if you’re a track star, but in basketball, it’s being an escape artist with the ball and an illusionist in terms of change of direction. It’s not just pure physical gifts. It’s also craftiness that goes into being an escape artist. He’s a true escape artist with the basketball.
“He’s really going to get Jarron Cumberland and Jacob Evans and guys like that a lot of open shots. Cane and Justin Jenifer together will have lightning speed. I’m looking forward to that.”
The 6’0” Broome transferred to Cincinnati in April after spending his first two college seasons at Sacred Heart in Connecticut. Last season he was named the Northeast Conference Player of the Year after ranking seventh in the country in scoring at 23.1 points per game to go with 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
“I’m not the biggest guy, but if I get a couple of steps in front of you it’s going to be tough to stop me,” said Broome.
The 22-year-old is practicing with the Bearcats this season and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
“He’s helped me on defense because being a bigger guard, it’s tough to guard smaller guys like that – especially ones that are really fast,” said senior Troy Caupain. “He challenges me every day at practice.”
“That’s the only time that I get to show the coaches what I can do,” said Broome. “I have to show them that I can play here. I haven’t proven anything yet. So practices are really my games.”
“It’s a tremendous advantage to have a guy practicing as talented as Cane,” said Cronin. “He is a basketball savant. Not only does it put a lot of pressure on our guys to defend him every day at practice, but he is constantly trying to help his teammates because he really understands basketball – probably better than any guard I’ve ever coached. He really understands the game at a high level.”
The Hartford, CT native is trying to use his redshirt season to address a couple of weaknesses beginning with his size and strength.
“Shoot, coming in here I was 147 pounds,” Cane told me with a laugh. “I just weighed myself and I’m 163 right now. The added weight has been helping me a lot. I can get bumped by anybody and it doesn’t really affect me anymore.
“I eat a lot but I think my metabolism is why it’s hard to put on weight. My dad was like this when he was my age – he sent me a picture. I sent it right to (strength coach) Mike (Rehfeldt) and said, ‘This is why I’m skinny.’ I get it from him.”
The other shortcoming Cane is working on is…
“Definitely defense,” said Broome. “I’ve learned that it’s more of a team thing. Before I thought you just had to sit down and guard people, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I’m trying to learn the system and the things you have to do to stay on the court – the things Coach Cronin cares about and the things he doesn’t care about.”
In his two seasons at Sacred Heart, the Pioneers were 27-35 (20-16 in the NEC). One of the biggest reasons that Broome elected to transfer to Cincinnati was the likelihood of playing in the NCAA Tournament.
“It was torture because the tournament is what you grow up wanting to play in,” said Broome. “I loved Sacred Heart and it was good while I was there, but I was playing more for myself. When I saw the teams celebrating on Selection Sunday, it was like they all had a hand in that moment. So I wanted to be part of a team that could get there.”
Even though he won’t suit up for the Bearcats in this year’s tournament, Broome is already a big part of the team.
“Cane Broome is a comedian,” said junior Gary Clark. “He is one different character. We’re so much alike in some ways and so different in others. He’s a great guy to be around and everybody loves him. He’s that one guy that’s cool with everyone.”
“I don’t have any family members here, so my teammates became my close friends and family,” said Broome. “At the home games I try to support them and on the road games I try to watch and learn something.”
I asked Broome is there’s anybody in particular that he’s closest to.
“We’re all really close, but Gary is my roommate,” he said.
A mostly-good roommate according to the UC forward.
“I’m still trying to get him to take the trash out, but we’re getting there,” said Clark.
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