Since Rhode Island produces so few Division I players, Providence’s backyard is really all of New England and all of the high schools and prep schools contained within.
With new assistant Jeff Battle concentrating on the Mid-Atlantic and southern states, Ed Cooley, along with Andre LaFleur and Brian Blaney have travelled far and wide across New England in search of talent. Those travels have been well documented as a large number of New England prospects in the Classes of 2016 and 2017 have been mentioned with PC and many have been extended offers.
Other than coaches, perhaps no one knows the talent in New England as well as Adam Finklestein of the New England Recruiting Report. (Visit www.newenglandrecruitingreport.com for rankings, player news and more.) Adam is also a contributor to ESPN.com. Adam sees more players and more events than any other scout in the region and his website recently released post-summer event recruiting rankings for the Top 50 players in the Class of 2016 and the Top 25 players in the Class of 2017. What’s interesting is to look at Adam’s lists and compare them to players who have PC interest and are in the Recruiting Notebook. What emerges is the following:
2. Wenyan Gabriel 6’9 Wilbraham & Monson, offer
4. Bruce Brown 6’3 Vermont Academy, offer
7. Chris Baldwin 6’8 Notre Dame Prep
8. Eddie Ekiyor 6’9 New Hampton, offer
9. Kevin Marfo 6’8 Worcester Academy, offer
10. Christian Vital 6’2 St. Thomas More
12. K.J. Santos 6’7 South Kent School
13. Jordy Tshimanga 6’10 MacDuffie School, offer
14. Travis Atson 6’5 Notre Dame Prep
18. Saul Phiri 6’4 Putnam Science Academy
24. Arkel Ager-Lamar 6’5 St. Thomas More
25. Terrell Brown 6’10 St. Andrew’s School
28. Ian Sistare 6’3 Northfield Mt. Hermon
31. Donovan Love 6’2 New Hampton
34. Tyonne Malone 6’3 Putnam Tech
For the record, Omari Spellman, who is committed to Villanova, is #1 on Adam’s list. Missing, also, is Sedee Keita, who is transferring into Putnam Science Academy for his final year of eligibility and would immediately become a Top 6 or 7 player in this class in New England.
What stands out is that PC is involved – or has been involved – with a good number of New England’s Top 50 players. What isn’t as clear is who has dropped off the Friars’ radar screen in the past several months.
Certainly, Wenyen Gabriel and Bruce Brown are two players who PC was in on early, yet both blew up over the summer and may no longer be realistic targets, although Gabriel recently put PC in his final 5 schools, so who knows? In addition, Eddie Ekiyor is a player who Providence really liked but he hasn’t mentioned PC recently.
It’s not clear if the Friars have offered Chris Baldwin and others, like Christian Vital, Saul Phiri, Ian Sistare and Arkel Ager-Lamar have not been heard from recently and may no longer be targets.
More realistically, Kevin Marfo and Jordy Tshimanga are both being pursued to varying degrees, and there is, of course, Keita. Of the NERR’s Top 50 in 2016, only Donovan Love was present at PC’s Elite Camp. To be fair, a number of PC targets were participating in the Strick Invitational event or they may have been present.
Likewise, the Friars are all over the 2017 class in the region and relationships are developing. In the NERR’s Top 25 and also in the Recruiting Notebook are:
1. Hamidou Diallo 6’3 Putnam Science Academy, offer
2. Makai Ashton-Langford 6’1 Cushing Academy, offer
3. Tremont Waters 5’10 South Kent School, offer
5. Kimani Lawrence 6’6 Cushing Academy, offer
6. Tomas Murphy 6’8 Northfield Mt. Hermon, offer
7. Hasahn French 6’7 Commonwealth Academy, offer
8. Jarrod Simmons 6’6 Cushing Academy, offer
9. Wabissa Bede 5’11 Cushing Academy, offer
10. Kellan Grady 6’3 Northfield Mt. Hermon
11. Jerome Desrosiers 6’6 Northfield Mt. Hermon
12. Aaron Wheeler 6’7 St. Andrew’s, offer
15. Justin Mazzulla 6’3 Bishop Hendricken, offer
20. Javon Taylor 6’3 Beaver Country Day, committed
23. Jordan Hardwick 6’7 Commonwealth Academy
Providence is all over the Top 10 on this list and has many offers out to the 2017 class. Some, like top-ranked Hamidou Diallo, may be a pipe dream, but the Friars have their eyes on other prizes, as well.
Over the summer, PC coaches spent plenty of time watching Tomas Murphy, Wabissa Bede, Makai Ashton-Langford, Hasahn French and others. Cushing Academy is loaded with PC targets, including Kimani Lawrence, a Rhode Island local, and two others who the coaches won’t have to travel far to watch, Justin Mazzulla and Aaron Wheeler, have caught their attention. Of the NERR’s Top 25 in 2017, three players attended the Elite Camp – Bede, Wheeler and Javon Taylor.
Entering his fifth season as PC coach, Ed Cooley and staff have built solid relationships with all of the key AAU, prep school and high school coaches and programs in New England. While the Friars have at present only landed two New England players during Cooley’s tenure – Kris Dunn and Paschal Chukwu – the Friars seem poised to reap the benefits of these relationships in future talent-rich classes.
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