July Recruiting Observations

The July recruiting and evaluation period came to a roaring close on July 26 in Las Vegas when Mass Rivals took on Team Loaded in the championship game of the Vegas event. Mass Rivals lost by 2 points but the team is filled with PC targets.

After three weekends of chasing talent from one end of the country to the other, with stops in Atlanta, Georgia, Long Island, N.Y., Las Vegas, Springfield, Massachusetts, Augusta, South Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina and elsewhere. Ed Cooley and his staff crisscrossed the country, watching favored prospects and discovering new prospects along the way. Along the way, observers of the process learned a few things about the Friars’ recruiting efforts, as well.

The Mass Rivals are a favorite

Ed Cooley loves the Mass Rivals squad. Of that, there can be no doubt. Where Mass Rivals went, Cooley was sure to follow. And why not? The team, at least this year, may have supplanted BABC as the top AAU program in New England and is rife with PC targets. Being looked at by the Friars are:
Chris Baldwin ’16 (Notre Dame Prep)
Wenyan Gabriel ’16 (Wilbraham & Monson)
Tyonne Malone ’16 (Williston Northampton School)
Saul Phiri ’16 (Worcester Academy)
Makai Ashton-Langford ’17 (Cushing Academy)
Wabissa Bede ’17 (Cushing Academy)
Jarrod Simmons ’17 (Cushing Academy)

Of course, Gabriel is the crown jewel of the bunch and has attracted the attention, not only of Cooley and PC, but of programs across the country. Even though Cooley was the first to recognize Gabriel’s potential and offer him a high major scholarship, Wenyan will be a tough get at this point, as Duke has offered and programs like Kentucky and Kansas are hovering. In addition, Connecticut and Kevin Ollie have been three deep at most Mass Rivals’ games.

Still, Cooley has a puncher’s chance, if only because of the length of their relationship, at least until Gabriel trims his list. Besides that, the other players on Mass Rivals also noticed Cooley in the gym and prospects such as point guard Bede really elevated their play this summer, so future dividends may be paid.

Look South for potential

The effects of new assistant Jeff Battle are already being felt in Friartown. Throughout the summer, names trickled in of new Friar targets from Maryland and Virginia and farther south. Those states, obviously, are right in Battle’s wheelhouse, and an assortment of names were added to the Recruiting Notebook. States in which PC traditionally had a small presence have now been given greater importance. Here’s a look at the Friars’ southern recruiting, so far (See the Recruiting Notebook for more details):
VIRGINIA
J.J. Matthews ‘16
Javin DeLaurier ‘16
Joe Hampton ‘16
Curtis Jones ‘16
Xavier Green ‘16
Jordan Cross ‘17
Marquis Godwin ‘17
Devante Carter ‘17
Montez Mathis ‘18

NORTH CAROLINA
Grant Williams ‘16
Quentin Jackson ’16
Dennis Smith ‘16
Davion Mintz ‘16
Jalen Johnson ‘17

Florida
Bamba Ndiaye ‘16
Jonathan Isaac ‘16
Anfernee Munnings ‘16
Tyler Polley ‘17

SOUTH CAROLINA
Sedee Keita ‘16
De’Riante Jenkins ‘16
Aamir Simms ‘17

GEORGIA
Kamar Baldwin ‘16
Tobias Howard ‘16

MARYLAND
A.J. Wilson ‘16
Jeff Dowtin ‘16
Andre Rafus ‘17
Chris Orlina ‘17
Demetrius Mims ‘18
Jalen Smith ‘18

Virginia is being mined particularly hard, with 9 prospects that we know of being named, and Friar fans had better get over any apprehension that they may have about Maryland players, because that state is also appearing as a prime recruiting ground for Providence. PC is also making inroads into West Virginia, and the majority of these prospects have emerged since Battle’s hiring.

When in doubt, offer

Ed Cooley likes to cast a wide net while recruiting and this season, the net is wider than ever. One way to measure that net is by the offers extended by the staff to players.

Now, all offers are not the same. There are firm offers and soft offers. For example, an offer to a player like Wenyan Gabriel is a firm offer. He accepts, you take him, no questions asked. For other players, however, an offer may be extended but there is no guarantee that if the player accepts and wants to commit, the program will take him. Obviously, there are more offers out there than scholarships that are available.

This spring and summer, the Friars extended offers to a lot of players. With that, comes the concern that an offer from Providence may not be as meaningful as one from a more discerning program. However, a program like PC has to recruit differently from one like Duke, for example, which can afford to be more particular.

As a result, many offers are out there. As of this writing, in terms of what has been reported, PC has offered 32 members of the Class of 2016 and 23 players in the Class of 2017. There may very well be more offers out there that we are unaware of (For a listing of players with offers from PC, refer to the Recruiting Notebook).

O Canada

The South isn’t the only new recruiting landscape for Providence College. Almost unnoticed has been a recent popping up of prospect names from Canada. While Ed Cooley has recruited internationally before, almost all of those instances involved players from Europe. For the first time in his four years at PC, aided by an AAU system that features an eclectic mix of players on squads, a number of Canadian born players have caught his eye and are being pursued by PC.

Some play at Canadian schools while others are prepping at American schools, but there’s no doubt that the talent level north of the border has risen dramatically in recent years. There are a number in the 2016 and 2017 classes and among those in the Class of 2018 who list PC as pursuers are:
Luguentz Dort ‘18
Noah Kirkwood ‘18
Junior Farquher ‘18

Odds and ends

Two other pieces of information impacted the July recruiting period. First, the Friars received the news that Isaiah Jackson, a 6’6 point forward, would be transferring from George Mason to Providence. Jackson, originally from Gainesville, Florida, will sit this season and then have 3 years to play. He averaged 8.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists as a freshman at Mason and possesses excellent passing skills. He’ll need to work on his shooting and finishing skills but should be a quality long term pickup for PC.

The other piece for Friar fans to keep in mind is that the annual Elite Camp will take place at PC on August 8 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public. A lot of top Friar targets and New England players attend this camp and for those looking to see who PC is really targeting, this is a great opportunity. Every year, a scrimmage is involved and the players who make up Coach Cooley’s team are often the Friars’ priority targets.

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