Month: August 2013

Cooley Setting Recruiting Trail Ablaze

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(photo: collegebasketballtalk.nbcsports.com)

By Chris Metcalf 

For about the last decade, Providence College basketball fans have adopted the phrase: “just wait until next year.” It has been a tough stretch of years filled with mediocrity and disappointment for the Friar faithful. In a time when talent and depth inside the Big East Conference was at an all-time high, it seemed like Providence would play a Top 25 opponent every night. They simply have not had the size, team depth, or overall talent to compete with those rosters stocked with future NBA players on a consistent basis. It was as if the Friars were banished to the basement every season in this unforgiving conference.

Then, Providence College made one of their most important coaching hires in former Fairfield head coach, Ed Cooley, who was born and raised in the Providence area. A strong hire was necessary to right the ship after a less than stellar three year experiment with Keno Davis at the helm. Cooley claimed in his first press conference that “not only will we win here, we’re going to win and we’re going to win big.” That is a powerful statement that could be a very distinct possibility in the coming years. “We will set this place on fire” Cooley said. The one proven thing that he has set on fire thus far has been the recruiting trail.

 After several Top 100 recruits and transfers his first couple of years, Ed Cooley is in the midst of assembling his most impressive recruiting class for 2014. Providence now has verbal commitments from 6’7 small forward Jalen Lindsey and 7’1 center Paschal Chukwu, both unanimous Top 100 recruits from all scouting services. For Friar fans, this kind of talent and length seems like a dream. I assure you it is not, however, as no coach in America has outworked Cooley and his staff over the past two years when their tenure began. Their hard work is paying off and these players that Providence never had any business recruiting in past years want to come here and play for this tight unit. They want to be part of something special, and Friar fans from Rhode Island know that there is nothing like the buzz around the state when their team is relevant and winning games. The fans got a small taste of it last year when PC made a run to the NIT quarterfinals, which shows the progress.

 Expectations are even higher this upcoming season, as they return all of their top players, aside from Vincent Council who has graduated. They have also added a Top 100 versatile guard in 6’6 Brandon Austin, as well as two talented transfers in 6’9 forward Tyler Harris and 7’0 center Carson Desrosiers. These are the types of players who will certainly contribute immediately and create the kind of depth and length that PC teams have not had in recent years.

 The die-hard Friar fans deserve this excitement around their program, and furthermore, they better get used to it. Ed Cooley is a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail, and soon to be, on the hardwood. The news also gets better as Friartown anxiously awaits the announcements of two more prized Top 100 recruits in Expressions Elite duo Abdul-Malik Abu and Jared Terrell on September 7. They both have Providence in their final four schools, the lone school that they have in common. These two players have the chance to round out a hypothetical recruiting class being called the “Friar Four.” With Cooley and the staff securing verbals from Lindsey and Chukwu, they are already halfway to that goal. Abu and Terrell have an opportunity to add fuel to the fire that Ed Cooley has ignited. The only question that remains is whether they want to be a part of it.

Chukwu Commits

Just over a week before Abdul Malik Abu and Jared Terrell are set to make their big decisions, the Friars got a commitment from another big recruit.

7’1″ Center Paschal Chukwu committed to the Friars last night, announcing that he was going to be a “Frier.” The big man is the fifth ranked center prospect in the country, as well as being ranked 58th overall. Let’s just hope that he can block shots better than he can spell.

This marks the second commitment that Ed Cooley has received from players ranked in the class of 2014 ESPN100, receiving a commitment in July from Tennessee native Jalen Lindsey.

The Friars will now wait on Abu and Terrell to make their decisions on September 7, with hopes that they’ll round out the ‘Friar Four.’

Friar Recruiting Update: Big Decisions to be Made

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                      Chukwu

Over the next couple of weeks, Friar recruits will be announcing their commitments, announcements that would potentially make Providence a top tier team for the next handful of years.

In the next week, 7’1″ center Paschal Chukwu is expected to make his decision. Chukwu has reportedly narrowed his choices down to Providence and St. Joe’s. Many believe that PC will be Chukwu’s choice, but it remains to be seen. The Westport, Connecticut native is ranked 58th in the ESPN100, in addition to being ranked the 5th best center in the country.

This could have potential influence on the decisions of Abdul Malik Abu and Jared Terrell, who are set to announce their decisions together on September 7. URI is also in Terrell’s final five along with PC, as the Rams will host the 6’3″ shooting guard for an official visit on September 3-4. Again, PC could be a potential destination for both players, however, as I would imagine the current teammates would enjoy playing with each other for a promising program.

The ‘Fab Five’ dreams were ruined, despite Ed Cooley’s attempts, when point guard Kaleb Joseph committed to Syracuse on his official visit. Although it would’ve been ideal for Joseph to come to PC, many feared that would happen.

With the commitment of Jalen Lindsey, the Friars hoped that would attract other top recruits. The Friars still have three out there, we’ll have to wait patiently for their much anticipated decisions in the coming weeks.

2013-14 Friars Non-Conference Schedule

2013-14 PROVIDENCE COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL TENTATIVE NONCONFERENCE SCHEDULE
NOVEMBER
2   RIC (exhibition) 7pm
8   Boston College 6pm
13 Brown                7pm
16 Marist                TBA
18 Vermont            7pm
22 Vanderbilt^       630pm
23 TBA^                   TBA
24 TBA^                   TBA
25 TBA^                   TBA
29 Fairfield              TBA
DECEMBER
1 Kentucky (at Barclays) 8pm
5 URI                        TBA
17 Yale                     7pm
21 Maine                  TBA
28 UMass                 TBA
ALL GAMES ARE EASTERN TIME AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE
^ – Virgin Island Paradise Jam at St. Thomas, Virgin Island
HOME GAMES IN BOLD