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Cincinnati Bearcats center Aziz Bandaogo officially withdraws from NBA Draft to return

Though it wasn't a complete surprise, Cincinnati Bearcats 7-foot center Aziz Bandaogo withdrew his name from the NBA Draft Tuesday. UC confirmed the news first reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.

Even when Bandaogo declared he was "testing the waters" in a social media graphic, he wrote: "I have decided to test the NBA Draft but plan to finish my college career at UC. Let's do something special. Go Bearcats."

Bandaogo played in 29 of UC's 37 games, starting 26. He made his debut last Nov. 22 against Georgia Tech after being declared eligible as a multiple-time transfer. Within his first three minutes off the bench, Bandaogo scored on an alley-oop and caused a Georgia Tech shot clock violation. He had eight points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes in UC's 89-54 decisive victory over the ACC Yellowjackets.

Shot changer returns

Despite some back issues throughout the season, Bandaogo averaged 6.6 points per game and 7.4 rebounds on 64% shooting from the field. He had four double-doubles, changed many shots, and blocked a team-high 48.

Cincinnati Bearcats forward Aziz Bandaogo (55) dunks in the first half of a college basketball game against the San Francisco Dons in the National Invitational Tournament, Wednesday, March 20, 2024, at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bearcats forward Aziz Bandaogo (55) dunks in the first half of a college basketball game against the San Francisco Dons in the National Invitational Tournament, Wednesday, March 20, 2024, at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati.

Bandaogo finished his first season of Power Four basketball as Big 12 honorable mention.

Previously at Utah Valley University, he had scored 15 points with 12 rebounds against the Bearcats in a 2023 NIT quarterfinal and was the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Bandaogo averaged 11.4 points and 10.5 rebounds for the Wolverines and had 106 blocks playing in every game (No. 3 in NCAA).

Cincinnati Bearcats forward Aziz Bandaogo (55) celebrates with Cincinnati Bearcats guard Dan Skillings Jr. (0) after drawing a foul and hitting a layup in the first half of the Big 12 Conference tournament between Cincinnati Bearcats and West Virginia Mountaineers at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, March 12, 2024.
Cincinnati Bearcats forward Aziz Bandaogo (55) celebrates with Cincinnati Bearcats guard Dan Skillings Jr. (0) after drawing a foul and hitting a layup in the first half of the Big 12 Conference tournament between Cincinnati Bearcats and West Virginia Mountaineers at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

His first two seasons of college basketball were with the Akron Zips and Bandaogo got his start in basketball with NBA Academy Africa. He is from Dakar, Senegal.

UC Bearcat women's team signs JUCO transfer

University of Cincinnati women's basketball head coach Katrina Merriweather announced the signing of JUCO transfer Alliance Ndiba also on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-3 forward was a two-time NJCAA Division I Women's Basketball All-American at Arizona Western College. Ndiba averaged a double-double with 14.0 points and 11.8 rebounds in 57 career games with the Lady Matadors.

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Katrina Merriweather has added JUCO transfer Alliance Ndiba from Arizona Western to "The Sisterhood".  Ndiba was a NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American last season.
Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Katrina Merriweather has added JUCO transfer Alliance Ndiba from Arizona Western to "The Sisterhood". Ndiba was a NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American last season.

"Alliance brings depth in our post spot with her athleticism, size and rebounding ability," Merriweather said. "We are excited to get her in the gym and continue her development from Arizona Western. She helps us on the floor but is also a quality young lady with a bright personality. She comes with great work ethic and excitement for being a part of our Sisterhood."

A stat stuffer

In 2023-24, Ndiba averaged 13.9 points and 12.4 rebounds while shooting 46.4% from the field. She blocked a team-best 56 shots and added 29 steals, earning Honorable Mention NJCAA All-American accolades as well as First Team All-ACCAC and First Team All-Region honors.

Ndiba tallied 10-plus points in 23 contests and poured in 20-plus points in five contests overall last season. That included 18 double-doubles (seven consecutive).

Cincinnati Bearcats women's basketball coach Katrina Merriweather has signed JUCO transfer Alliance Ndiba, a 6-foot-3 forward from Arizona Western.
Cincinnati Bearcats women's basketball coach Katrina Merriweather has signed JUCO transfer Alliance Ndiba, a 6-foot-3 forward from Arizona Western.

As a freshman, she scored in double-figures in all but one game and recorded 13 double-doubles. She averaged 16.0 points, 11.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. She was named a First Team NJCAA All-American and earned both ACCAC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors in 2021-22.

A native of Lubumbashi, Congo, Ndiba joins Cincinnati's incoming class that features Texas A&M transfer Tineya Hylton (Toronto, Ontario) and freshman Chloe Mann (Fort Worth, Texas).

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: UC Bearcats get center back as Aziz Bandoaogo withdraws from NBA Draft