With over 60 high school players, from throughout New England and the Northeast, Providence College hosted their annual Elite Basketball Camp on Sunday, June 26th. Also in attendance were a number of AAU and high school coaches, and a smattering of Friar fans and supporters. Finally, a number of the Friars who are on campus this summer attended and participated in some demonstration drills.
The players in attendance represent some potential Friar recruiting targets, players who attend as part of their AAU teams, and other players who want to improve their skills and see how they match up against some of the top high school talent in the region. There are also players who are simply basketball or Friar fans who jump at the opportunity to play in front of the Providence coaching staff.
By the time I arrived Sunday, the players were going through a series of drills and three-on-three situational tasks. The Friar staff would be leading the drills, with the coach going from site to site offering insight and support to the participants.
After this, the players broke into teams for a series of five on five games, which included guest coaches Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock. Coach Bullock took his role more seriously, pushing his team in the first game even when they were up twenty.
While it can be difficult keeping track of the playing moving from place to place, a number of players stood out. Makai Ashton-Langford has the skills and maturity on the court that gets noticed immediately. Also, it was clear from his interactions with Coach Cooley and the staff that there is a personal relationship between them.
Cole Swider, a 6’8” guard forward from St. Andrews, has the physical size and tools to play at a high Division 1 level. During the games, he seemed determined to demonstrate his ball-handling and finishing skills, as he constantly drove to the hoop, usually drawing contact and finishing. A number of other guards, including Mike Christmas, Keyonte Johnson (both from Boo Williams AAU) and AJ Reeves all showed flashes of high level talent, and PC is involved with all three members of the class of 2018.
Another player who drew attention based on his size as much as anything was Darnell Brodie from Putnam Science Academy (2018). I believe he is listed at 6’10” and 250 lbs., and he is at least that big. He still has a way to go, but he held his own for the most part against more seasoned upperclassmen. The player who stood out the most to me (mainly because I had never heard of him before Sunday) was point guard Bryce Willis of the PSA Cardinals and Iona Prep. A member of the class of 2019, he is already 6’4”, with the body of a college player. During the drills, his ball handling skills and quickness stood out, and his shooting in the games showed his confidence. Apparently the staff agreed about him, since he reported being offered a scholarship from Coach Cooley on Sunday. There are a number of other players that I could mention, but it is difficult following and remembering everyone that was there.
The last thing that I noticed from the camp was the condition of the current Friars. Jalen Lindsey and Kyron Cartwright are noticeably bigger than last year, and Lindsey appears to have even grown a little. Lindsey looks to be about 10-15 lbs heavier than at the end of the season, and it is clearly all muscle. As for Cartwright, I remember seeing him talking to Bryce Cotton during Cotton’s visit to the campus last summer, and they appeared to be about the same size. Now, I saw Cotton about a month or two ago, and after seeing Cartwright Sunday, I would bet he is closer to 15 lbs heavier than Cotton. Ryan Fazekas also looked more filled out, and was putting on a shooting exhibition on the side Sunday.
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I would strongly encourage anyone who is in the area next year at this time to stop by the Elite Camp. There are always Friar fans there, and it reminds us that the next season is getting closer.