On Wednesday, Providence got its first commitment of the Ed Cooley area, garnering a pledge from 5-foot-7 senior point guard Kiwi Gardner. The California native averaged 23.7 points, 7 assists, 4 steals and 4 rebounds per game this season, leading Westwind Prep (AZ) to a 30-2 season and a state title.

Although Gardner himself was unavailable for comment, had a chance to speak with Gary Trousdale, his coach at Westwind Prep.

"He visited Providence with the previous coaching staff and absolutely loved it," Trousdale said of how Gardner decided on PC. "With the coaching staff [change]—and Kiwi doesn't show really show too much emotion—I don't want to say upset, but [he was] bothered by it because I think after the visit he was really thinking about going there. I think Providence, with the campus and the location and it being in the Big East [was appealing]. I think out West, the Big East is still looked upon as the best conference and there are a number of kids from California who have had good careers in the Big East."

Trousdale continued, "When he came to Westwind [for his senior year], his goal was to play big-time basketball and his whole life people had told him he was too small and he got to Westwind and really buckled down."

Although many schools were interested in Gardner, his recruitment was unique, as Trousdale explained.

"Cal was interested, Washington, San Francisco, a number of schools, but the thing was they didn't pursue him cuz they heard he wasn't gonna make it [academically]," Trousdale said. "So, we actually reclassified him as 2012, but we got him in SAT classes and . . . he made it and I think it shocked everybody and Providence had been recruiting him."

"Murray State was on him hard, and this is from when he came to us, so I'm talking about last summer to the fall, but with us reclassifying him to 2012, everybody then started recruit him as 2012," Trousdale added. "He had the grades, he just didn't have the SAT test [score] yet."

Trousdale went on to explain a bit more about how Providence ended up with Gardner's commitment.

"They were recruiting him, they were recruiting him at Fairfield actually, so they were aware of him," he explained. "It wasn't like they got the job at Providence and started recruiting him and they had seen us back at the National Prep Championship in New Haven, Connecticut when coach Cooley was back at Fairfield."

Regardless of his classification, it seems that Kiwi Gardner was a player that the PC coaching staff wanted.

"They were recruiting him as a 2012 and Providence, or I should say Fairfield, and Murray State were hoping that he would get the test score and qualify," Trousdale explained. "Now this might not be exactly correct, I don't want to speak for a coach staff, but that's the understanding we had."

First assistant coach Carmen Maciariello and then Andre LaFleur were PC's lead recruiters for Gardner, who coach Trousdale said plays much bigger than his size.

"I'd say he's 5'7 with shoes on . . . he's 5'7 and plays like he's 6'4," Trousdale said. "It's funny because everyone talks about his offensive ability and ball handling and being able to take the ball to the basket, but his biggest attribute is being able to defend. I mean, that's his bread and butter, being able to defend bigger, athletic guys."

Asked what Gardner's biggest strength is offensively, Trousdale replied, "I think taking people off the dribble and creating opportunities for his teammates. Penetrating and dishing, he's so quick that he draws defenders to him. He's got great court vision [and is a] tremendous passer."

In addition to Gardner's strengths Trousdale went on to talk about the primary weakness of the soon-to-be Friar's game.

"His weakness is probably—going into that level he's gonna have to understand what his role is in terms of a [being a] one," Trousdale said. "You know, is he gonna need to score? And my guess is gonna be that's not gonna be a key role for him so he's gonna need to create opportunities for his teammates. The thing with us is that he was such a good passer and our guys couldn't [hang on to the ball]. People talk about kiwi having a lot of turnovers, but [that is why]."

On the type of player that Gardner is and what it is like to coach him, Trousdale commented, "Kiwi is a coach on the floor. He gives his opinions and 90% of the time the coaches agree with him. I mean, he knows what we want. He knows—we call it "Kiwi time"—and he knew when it was "Kiwi time" and he knew when it wasn't. [He is a] hard worker in practice, played his [butt] off every second he was on the floor and in practice."

Trousdale explained Gardner's game by saying, "Electrifying, exciting, never know what to expect. [I mean that] in a good way, not a bad way."

Sounds like Kiwi Gardner may well be the type of player that Providence fans will love to watch play.

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