Month: April 2013

The Departure of Ledo Should Mean Increased Minutes for Brandon Austin

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(photo via philly.com)

Friartown got some bad news a couple of weeks ago when standout shooting guard Ricky Ledo declared for the NBA Draft, turning aside the option to play at least one season in a Providence uniform. Ledo, a Rhode Island native, sat out this past season after being declared ineligible by the NCAA, but is confident that he’s a good enough prospect to hopefully get drafted in this upcoming NBA Draft. Whether or not Ledo is actually a draft pick remains to be seen and is a heavily disputed topic among Friar fans. Many feel that, even if Ledo is drafted, he’ll undoubtedly be buried in the D-League next year. No matter how fans feel about it, we have no choice but to wish him luck and move on. 

One thing that PC can look forward to now is the potential of increased minutes for incoming freshman and Pennsylvania Class AAA Player of the Year Brandon Austin. Austin, who was rated the 56th best high school player in the ESPN100, may not be the prospect that Ledo was, but has a similar frame and great potential. In a National Signing Day special on ESPNU, Dave Telep tabbed Austin as his pick to surprise the nation in the 2013-14 season. 

It’s understandable if your pain hasn’t completely been eased from the departure of Ledo, but Austin may be the next best thing. 

Cooley Signs Extension!

Ed Cooley is here to stay. Today Cooley signed a four year extension in addition to the six year deal he signed in 2011, keeping him in Friartown through the 2021 season. In relation to his extension, he will get a pay raise that will bring his average annual salary to $2 million.

Cooley’s extension is well deserved, after a season in which he brought a Friar team that struggled early in the season all the way to the NIT quarterfinals. Additionally, Cooley has added five top 100 recruits in just two years.

This is great news for Friar fans, who were greeted with the unfortunate news just yesterday that Ricky Ledo would officially declare for the NBA Draft. However, Kadeem Batts also announced that he would be officially returning to Providence to finish his college career, delivering another piece of good news for Friar fans.

Ultimately, the loss of Ledo will hurt, but the program looks to be in great shape in the long term under Cooley.

Dunn’s Growing Pains Should Benefit Him Next Season

He was supposed to be the savior, so to speak, of the Providence College Men’s Basketball program, a program that has done nothing but underachieve and has been in a rebuilding stage for the past hand full of years. Kris Dunn, a New London, Connecticut native and a 2012 McDonald’s High School All-American, was the 23rd overall rated prospect by ESPN and second overall prospect at the point guard position coming out of high school.

Providence fans were buzzing with excitement for this past season in anticipation of adding Dunn and fellow recruit and Rhode Islander Ricky Ledo to a team that already had Vincent Council, Bryce Cotton, Kadeem Batts, and LaDontae Henton. That is, until it became known that Dunn would need shoulder surgery during the summer after his senior year, pushing his season debut with the Friars back into December and before Ledo was officially ruled ineligible by the NCAA. Two vital members of Ed Cooley’s 2012 recruiting class, which was ranked sixth in the nation, were hit with major blows before the season even started.

The Friars tread water early in the season with the absence of their two prize recruits, as it became quite clear that this too would be a rebuilding year with Providence not having the luxury of just showing up and winning on talent alone, as some thought they’d be able to do coming into this season.

As for Dunn, he continued to rehab hard, anxious to get back on the court and get his first taste of college basketball. On December 18, Dunn finally got his chance, storming onto the scene with 13 assists in a 79-45 win over Colgate at the Dunk.

However, Dunn’s season didn’t go as well as his college debut did. Dunn proved that for any player coming out of high school, it’s a huge step from there to the Big East, arguably the best conference in the country up until the recent debacle. While remaining a consistent juggernaut defensively throughout the season, Dunn experienced clear growing pains offensively. At times, it was obvious that Dunn was getting down on himself, becoming frustrated with his play out on the court. For most Friar fans, however, his potential was imminent.

After struggling through a good portion of the season, Friartown finally got a glimpse of Dunn’s full arsenal in the first round of the NIT. In a 75-66 win over Charlotte, Dunn filled up the stat sheet, posting 14 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and four steals. With that Charlotte performance, it felt like Dunn had finally arrived.

Dunn’s freshman year was one that involved growing pains, in addition to shaking off some cobwebs from his surgery, but overall, a successful first season for the second overall rated point guard in the 2012 class. With Council graduating, Dunn, who is a tremendous passer, will take over the reigns at the point next season for the Friars.

Freshman year was tough at times for Dunn, but he’ll undoubtedly come back with confidence next season. Dunn gave us a glimpse of just how good he can be in the first round of the NIT, and if he can play like that consistently, he’ll be just fine.