Swider and Duke were both in action Saturday at the National Prep School Invitation held at Rhode Island College. A favorite weekend for any hoops junkie, top prep teams from all over the country, and most of the top NEPSAC schools make at least a one game appearance here, giving fans a chance to not just see some of the top targets for PC, but some of the best talent in the country.
David Duke is a junior guard at Cushing Academy, Duke is becoming a really, really popular name with Friar fans. David Duke, should become a really, really popular name with Friar fans.
Duke busted onto the scene less than 10 months ago, and since then, it has been a pretty big whirlwind for a kid who went from playing Rhode Island High School D1 basketball at Classical High School, and is now being chased by some of the biggest names in the country. Duke broke out in a game against Hendricken in the D1 playoffs where only a few people in RI knew who he was: a kid with no offers. Brown and Bryant offered that day. That week, Providence offered. Since then, he has heard from the likes of NC State, Creighton, and today UConn and Cincinnati were front and center to watch him play.
Duke has been recently hobbled by an ankle injury, and about 3 minutes into the game it had looked like he rolled it again and was done. Luckily, for many of the fans, and coaches there to see him, he stretched it out, then sat for a while, but in the end did return in the first half. Duke, who has now grown to 6’3, is the ideal high major guard. He can handle the ball and play the point, as he was generally a point guard at Classical. He can also play off the ball well, he is an above average shooter along with having a very quick first step off the bounce. Duke once again, even on what appeared to be one wheel, finished with 12 points, 10 boards, and 6 assists. He and a name most Friar fans are familiar with, Wabissa Bede, are probably the most dynamic backcourt in the NEPSAC. They complement each other very well, at any given time, each one of them can take the ball up the floor and run the point while the other plays off the ball being the dominant scorer.
Duke has really developed his game, He runs with the Rivals AAU team, playing with Bede, and other top New England talent. When I saw Duke in High School at Classical, I knew he had some game, but I’ll be the first to admit, I wanted to see him do it against the top talent. I wanted him to be pushed by competition outside of the RIIL, He has been, and he has absolutely delivered.
On Sunday, Duke was sensational. He showed off range, knocking down a couple triples, and showed why he has made giant leaps by taking kids off the dribble at will, and attacking the basket.
It was noted, but the entire PC staff was present for the game, and made sure a serious presence was felt. We have seen this in years past at this same event for certain targets. Coach Brian Blaney did most of the recruiting on Saturday, otherwise, this was the only time all weekend I saw the entire staff watching a game, and making sure it was known.
Of note. I do want to make one thing clear and this is by no means a knock on David Duke, I have heard some comparisons being made to a young Kris Dunn. Friar fans, let’s not go and do that to yourselves, or to Duke. I saw Dunn at New London a few times in high school, and he had this smoothness about him, this ability where he just looked like the game came so easily to him. David Duke is VERY good. He does have some of the similarities, he has CRAZY athleticism, he has a very good handle, he can shoot the 3 ball, and he is not Kris Dunn.
Duke is becoming a major priority for the Friars, and I think if he did come to Providence, he would be loved, and in 4 years under a coach who has proven he can develop guards into pro’s, Duke would flourish here and could become that kind of player. With that said, let’s not crown him the next Kris Dunn, for all our sakes.
I have been told, FWIW, PC is leading in the Duke race, but as we know in recruiting, from what I was told, there are things that factor into recruiting that staffs and fans have zero control over.
St Andrews tipped off Saturday afternoon against NEPSAC Class AAA power Northfield Mount Hermon. NMH, who is loaded as it seems they are every year, came prepared to not allow St Andrews’ best player take over the game. Right from the tip one thing was clear: DO NOT let Cole Swider beat them. NMH handed out the defensive assignment to Princeton commit, Jerome Desrosiers ( 17’), and I’ll guess if you asked NMH coach after the game if he was pleased with the job he did, he would have said yes. NMH won the game, but not without some resistance. Desrosiers held Swider to just 15 points, and don’t get me wrong, 15 points is no joke, but Swider is averaging close to 25 points a game, which in NEPSAC AA is an incredible feat for a junior. Cole is known for being a shooter, and there is no denying the fact he is regarded as one of the best shooters in the entire country. NMH made sure he didn’t get a single open look, and with that said, he still found a way to help his team almost pull the upset. NMH won the game 81-73.
Swider has a plethora of ways to beat you outside of the jumper, so when that was not falling, and the looks were not there, he started attacking the basket. At 6’8 he is still very comfortable taking his defender off the dribble, and is quite possibly one of the best finishers around rim you will see. He is also a machine on the glass, he makes every attempt to grab a board when he can, and will kill you on the offensive side of the glass with put backs for easy buckets. Cole finished the game with 15 points, 8 boards, and 2 assists.
Swider’s game has really evolved over the last 18 months. He should not be just billed as a shooter, He has the complete offensive package, whether its hitting 25 foot 3’s, taking his defender off the dribble, or scoring on the block. Cole has become one of the most dangerous players in the NEPSAC. He came into St Andrews after a year at Portsmouth High School. He was about 6’4, skinny, and it took some time to adapt to the style of play in the NEPSAC. Last year, his second year in the NEPSAC, he came roaring onto the scene, and after a big summer with the BABC AAU team which runs on the EYBL circuit, he started to make a name for himself at St Andrews, scoring just under 500 points. Now in his Junior year, Cole Swider is no longer a secret, adapting to the NEPSAC style of play is a thing of the past. Now he is a household name for opposing coaches in New England, college coaches, and fans that follow the recruiting news.
I had a chance to catch up with Swider after his game on Saturday, and discussed a few things.
Question: What do you think has been the biggest adjustment you have had to make over the last couple of years?
Cole Swider “ The biggest adjustment is having to come to play every night in the NEPSAC, there are no easy games and being the constant focus of every teams’ defense has been tough.”
Question: Do you think not shooting up in height to 6’8 right away has helped you as a bigger forward? Is it something that helps you take defenders off the dribble?
Cole Swider: Yes, I got to play guard a lot growing up when I was younger, and that has helped me to show off and have guard skills even at 6’8.
Question: Today it was clear the opponent made you a focal point when they defended, have you noticed that more this year? Last year you broke onto the scene in a big way, but had a team of upperclassmen that were well known, now it isn’t a surprise and everyone knows who Cole Swider is, do you notice teams defending you differently?
Cole Swider: Yes, I’ve noticed a big change, I need to find new ways to score the basketball, going into the game I know they are going to be throwing different defenses at me so I have had to adjust at times. My teammates have done a great job this year of getting me the ball and also stepping up when teams try and shut me out.
Question: It has been documented that you have taken a few visits to schools such as Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Xavier, and you seem to be a fixture at Providence games, I notice a theme, is there a reason to that?
Cole Swider: I like the Big East, it’s a basketball centric conference, and everything in the league is about basketball and does not have football to worry about. Obviously, I want to go to a school that’s the best fit for me. Football does not play into my decision, but I like that the Big East has a good thing going for it.
Question: You have plenty of non-Big East schools offering you, and chasing you, Outside of the Big East, do you have; schools that contact you regularly?
Cole Swider: Yes, Miami contacts me regularly, as well as URI and BC. I have a lot of other schools in contact as well.
Question: Do you have a list yet? Do you have any idea surrounding the timing of a list, or anything surrounding your recruitment?
Cole Swider” I am going to cut my list down after the April Live Period.
Question: Is there a lure to playing for a team like Providence, since you are a hometown kid?
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE
Cole Swider” Being a hometown kid, there is a draw to Providence, yes. But I am going to pick a school that is the best place for me, and location will not have a factor in where ever the best place for me is.