Friars Set To Grab Big Man Transfer

When Ed Cooley arrived at Providence, he promised that he would rebuild the program one brick at a time. He quickly nabbed Kris Dunn and Ricky Ledo, kept Josh Fortune in the fold, and now appears to have added his first big man brick – transfer Sidiki Johnson.

Sidiki Johnson, a 6-8, 235 pound power forward from New York City, visited Providence over the weekend and was sold on joining the Ed Cooley rebuilding job on Smith Hill. Johnson, a transfer from Arizona, will be eligible to play next season at Providence, barring any last minute surprises.

"It's a good fit because it's closer to home," Johnson told Five-Star Basketball on Tuesday. "Coach Cooley is a real good guy and I like the way he's rebuilding the program up there."

It's unclear as to when Johnson would become eligible. There are whispers that Providence will file a waiver, asking for eligibility at the beginning of next season, which, if granted, would give Johnson a full four years to play at PC. If not, Johnson would be eligible second semester next season.

Johnson played just three games at Arizona this season before being suspended and leaving the team on December 4. Johnson was suspended for an undisclosed team violation on November 21 and never rejoined team practices. Coach Sean Miller, after Johnson's suspension, said, "Sidiki Johnson is someone from a physical perspective — rebounding, giving us quality minutes, developing as our season grows — who we were really counting on to complement the big guys that we already have. Him not being with us is not a positive."

Johnson started at St. Raymond's in New York City and quickly built a reputation as a mobile big man. On August 1, 2009, in the summer after his sophomore year at St. Raymond's, Johnson committed to Arizona, who had made him a priority recruit. At the time, Johnson commented, "Me and Sean Miller have a great relationship. We talk a lot and when I went on the visit we hung out the entire time. He really made me feel like I was family. It doesn't matter how far away from home I am. It's a great community, a great college atmosphere and the visit was great. I felt like I was at home."

Johnson had made himself a priority recruit in the summer of 2009, after his sophomore year in high school, with a series of outstanding performances. Not only had Arizona made Johnson a priority, but other big time schools were after him also. Providence was involved, as were Kentucky, Indiana, Pittsburgh, St. John's, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. All but Kentucky and Indiana offered.

After his sophomore year, Johnson transferred to St. Benedict's Prep in New Jersey to play for Danny Hurley. One year later and Hurley was gone from St. Benedict's and Johnson transferred again, this time to Oak Hill Academy for his senior year.

In the summer of 2010, before his senior season, PrepStars had Johnson as the #68 prospect in the class of 2011. Longtime superscout Brick Oettinger wrote about Johnson for PrepStar's Recruiters Handbook: "While a native of New York City, this athletic 206-pounder played for DC Assault Gold 17U in the Adidas Super 64, likely meaning he's matriculating to Oak Hill this fall. Though at times his extreme aggressiveness with the ball makes him out ofcontrol and thus turnover-prone for trying to do too much, there are lots of assets to his game, including the ability to handle the ball proficiently for someone his size. He also rebounds well in traffic, hoists a smooth jump hook,hits quick, arching midrange pull-ups to 18 feet, sprints downcourt to fill alane on the break, passes alertly on the interior and plays tough defense. He draws lots of free throws due to his quickness inside. All in all, his decision-making should determine how successful he becomes as a collegiate player."

A rough year at Oak Hill and added weight, which limited his quickness and athleticism saw him drop fifty spots in PrepStars' final classrankings, to #118. In May of 2010, Dave Telep wrote this for Scout, after seeing Johnson at the EYBL in Houston: "We like this guy and he's a nice player. The hop step and dunk was a nice touch and he even tossed in a 3-pointer. To take the next step, Johnson has to introduce the word "dominate"into his vocabulary. You don't always dominate with points, Johnson simply needs to dominate with his presence and replicate efforts. He's capable."

At the Pangos All-American Camp in June, Evan Daniels wrote:"Prior to going down with an ankle injury, Johnson, a 6-foot-8 power forward committed to Arizona, was playing well. He's playing harder than he did during the high school season and seems more aggressive on both ends. Although we'd like to see him play more with his back to the basket, as he likes to face up, we like the motor and he scored it well in the paint."

Johnson ended his senior season ranked #85 by Rivals.com,#86 by Scout.com and #93 by ESPN.com. He was also ranked as the #16 power forward in the Class of 2011.

Early on, it seemed Arizona would work for Sidiki. He toldWildcatAuthority.com in mid-October, "Just defending and rebound. That's whatI'll bring to the team. It's tough with the upper classmen (regarding grabbingearly playing time). These guys know the program. They're real tough. I just follow their lead. I have gained 20 pounds since I have been here. He (strength coach Chris Rounds) pretty much knows what he's doing. I gained 20 pounds of muscle, so I believe in his system."

Now, Sidiki Johnson takes his game to Providence College, aprogram in desperate need of interior help. Defending and rebounding for the Friars would go a long way towards Johnson realizing his considerable potential.

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