PROVIDENCE RECRUITING CLASSES - PART TWO

Recruiting at Providence College has always been a complicated job. Friar Insider decided to take a look back at the past twenty recruiting classes to see which prospects hit it big and which prospects were busts. The second part of this two part series looks at the classes of Pete Gillen and current Friar coach Tim Welsh.

In the first part of this series, Friar Insider analyzed the recruiting classes of Rick Pitino, Gordie Chiesa and Rick Barnes. Now, we'll turn our attention to the classes of Pete Gillen and Tim Welsh:

PETE GILLEN
Year One
Adam Benton, PG – NR
Bo Larragan, SG – NR
Michael Spruell, SG - #10
As with Rick Pitino and Rick Barnes, Pete Gillen got off to a late start for his first recruiting effort. He landed Spruell, an extremely talented player that other schools had shied away from because of academics. After that, he turned his attention to keeping Jason Williams, a Barnes recruit. Gillen visited Williams' home but Williams was convinced that Gillen had brought Spruell in to play the point. Despite Gillen's reassurances that Spruell was a shooting guard, Williams asked to be released from his commitment, and Gillen complied. Ironically, Spruell also never played for PC, forced instead to attend junior college. Gillen was largely unfamiliar with Barnes' other recruit, Greg Buckner, and when Buckner expressed a desire to follow Barnes to Clemson, Gillen gladly released him from his commitment. In their places, Gillen brought in Benton, a mid-major talent who transferred after his freshman year to Akron, and Larragan, a decent shooter who lacked athleticism, and transferred after his sophomore year.

Year Two
Derrick Brown, WF, JUCO - #16
Llewellyn Cole, F – NR
Ruben Garces, C, JUCO – NR
God Shammgod, PG - #28
Jamel Thomas, WF - #67
Corey Wright, PG, JUCO – NR
Gillen's second class was the jewel of his tenure, a class that many ranked among the Top Ten in the nation. The class was highlighted by Shammgod, a McDonald's All-American, who thrilled fans with his ballhandling and passing. Shamm was a weak shooter, however, and decided to jump to the NBA after only two years. Thomas had played center in high school and as a result, had been lightly recruited, but the swingman developed into a star for the Friars and finished his four years as PC's third leading scorer. The two junior college players both were heavy contributors. Brown showed great athleticism and a knack for the big play during both of his seasons at PC, while Garces became PC's best center since Dickey Simpkins. Garces had a slow first year, but developed into a rebounding machine by the latter part of his second year. Cole was actually the first signee of this class, and the least accomplished. He ended his years at PC as a participant in the PrimeTime incident, but his on-court play was disappointing. A good leaper, Cole never really developed as a basketball player. Wright was part of this class, but sat out for a year before playing three years. A pesky defensive player, Wright wasn't much of an offensive threat and played out of control at times. Still, this class played a large role in PC's Elite Eight run in 1996-97.

Year Three
Abdul Brown, C, JUCO – NR
Kendrick Moore, SG, Transfer
Ndongo N'Diaye, C – NR
Kofi Pointer, PF - #91
Kevin Simpson, SG, JUCO - #8
The Shammgod-Thomas-Wright trio from New York City proved hard to handle, and Gillen stopped recruiting the City as hard, turning instead to Baltimore, with poor results. Brown was a highly touted junior college player, but showed little on the court, and was dismissed from school for shoplifting. He was Gillen's Garnett Thompson. Simpson was a very talented scorer who was an academic trainwreck and never made it to PC. Pointer played very little for the Friars and transferred after his sophomore year. N'Diaye was a raw seven-foot stringbean from Senegal, who also thirsted for more playing time and transferred after his sophomore year. Moore transferred in from Missouri, and was a steady, servicible third guard without much of an offensive game.

Year Four
Jamal Camah, SG – NR
Waleed Driscoll, PF, JUCO – NR
Justin Farley, WF, Transfer
John Linehan, PG – NR
Erron Maxey, F - #122
T.J. McKenzie, C - #130
Ben Perkins, WF - #52
Gillen's next to last class was also quite a mixed bag. Driscoll was a complete reach by Gillen, a barely talented junior college forward who ripped up his knee upon arriving at PC and never played for the Friars. Linehan was a true sleeper, and was regarded as a low-major prospect. He jumped at the chance to play for PC, and had an unexpected spectacular career as a defensive specialist and broke Eric Murdock's NCAA record for steals. Maxey was lightly recruited, and when none of the big West Coast schools pursued him, he committed to PC without ever visiting the campus. He also had a sterling career, sacrificing his own personal goals for the team's needs. McKenzie played little and transferred after his freshman year to Rice. Farley came in from Evansville with a reputation as an extraordinary three point shooter, but he never looked comfortable shooting the three, even though he was a hardnosed, servicible player. Perkins was considered the gem of the class, and played well early, but after a knee injury, was never the same. He transferred to McNeese State after his sophomore season. Camah sat out his first year at PC for academic reasons and had both on the court and off the court problems a in high school and at PC. He was part of the PrimeTime episode, and was dismissed from the school after his sophomore year, but even when he played, he was out of control, and had poor shooting skills.

Year Five
Sean Connolly, SG - #113
Gillen had signed one player in the early signing period, and it didn't pan out for PC. Connolly was a highly sought after high school player who committed to Providence after Jim O'Brien was fired at Boston College. More about Connolly in the section on Tim Welsh.

TIM WELSH
Year One
Rahim Johnson, PF – NR
Leon Brisport, C, JUCO - #34
Karim Shabazz, C, Transfer
Like Pitino, Barnes and Gillen, Tim Welsh was hamstrung by getting a late start in the Spring recruiting wars. He had been left with no one on the roster taller than 6'6, so he signed Johnson, a top scorer who showed up to school overweight, wouldn't work, and never played for PC. Welsh's number one goal was to convince Connolly to stay, and he did, but even though Connolly played a lot as a freshman and was the team's second option on offense, he transferred to Ohio State after his freshman year to be with O'Brien. Needing help underneath, Welsh brought in Brisport from junior college at midyear, but Brisport showed little and transferred at the end of the season to Stony Brook. Shabazz took in the Purdue game in December, and commited to PC, transferring in from Florida State. Shabazz was never the superstar that some had predicted in high school, but he was a solid performer for a year and a half for the Friars.

Year Two
Romuald Augustin, F - #157
Mark Jarrell-Wright, SG/WF - #139
Marcus Jefferson, WF – NR
Abdul Mills, SG – NR
David Murray, PF/C, JUCO – NR
Donta Wade, SG, JUCO - #23
For Welsh's second class, he looked primarily to the prep schools and junior colleges. Jarrell-Wright was a highly regarded high schooler who tore his ACL during his senior year and struggled to regain his touch at PC. He transferred after his freshman season. The other high schooler was Augustin, a sweet-shooting wing who was on his way to a good career at PC when he suffered an injury in his junior season. He tried to come back, but was a step slow and transferred for his senior season to Bryant. Jefferson was a lunch-pail type player who suffered a stress fracture early in his freshman year, never regained his playing time, and transferred to Iowa State after his freshman year. Mills had the best career of the class, developing into a solid scorer by his sophomore and junior years, but incurred a groin injury that never seemed to heal properly, and after attempting a comeback in his senior year after a medical redshirt season, he transferred to a NAIA school for a final season. Murray had a decent reputation in junior college but never really showed that ability in his one season at PC. He was dismissed from school after his involvement in PrimeTime. Wade also came in with a big rep as a scorer from junior college, but struggled to find his shot, and like Murray, was dismissed from school after the season due to PrimeTime. It should also be noted that Kareem Hayletts walked on with this class, and earned a scholarship, and some playing time, by his senior year.

Year Three
Donell Allick, SG - #153
Leland Anderson, PF, Transfer
Chris Anrin, WF – NR
Marcus Douthit, C - #131
Sheiku Kabba, SG – NR
Maris Laksa, F – NR
After his prior experience with junior college players, and with the aftermath of PrimeTime hanging over his ability to recruit, Welsh looked overseas and to the prep ranks for this class. Anrin and Laksa both came in with reputations as deadly three point marksmen, and both served that purpose. Both were limited athletically, and Laksa played soft at times, but both players hit big shots for the Friars during their careers. Laksa left late in his senior year to play professionally in Europe. Meanwhile, Douthit was a key recruit for Welsh, and after a promising freshman year and a subpar sophomore year, developed into a solid player for PC over his final year and a half. Kabba was a gutty, hardnosed player who was never afraid to take the big shot, and was another solid four year player. Allick sat for a year and then chafed at his limited playing time and transferred out to a junior college. Anderson had been recruited out of high school hard by Welsh, but had signed with Michigan. Unhappy with his playing time, he transferred in to PC, but showed little of the talent that had marked him as a top prospect in high school. He was ineffective inside, played little, and left the team midway through his junior season.

Year Four
Ryan Gomes, PF - #294
Tuukka Kotti, F – NR
Rob Sanders, WF - #296
Garnett Thompson, F, JUCO - #25
Welsh took one more shot at a junior college player, bringing in the highly touted Thompson. However, Thompson had played at a Division III junior college, and the transition to big time basketball was too great. He struggled, his playing time dwindled, and he left midway through his first season. He has been called, by some, Welsh's greatest recruiting mistake. Balancing that out, however, is one of Welsh's greatest recruiting triumphs. Gomes was an overweight, lightly rated and lightly recruited academic risk who developed into one of PC's all-time greats, becoming the first Friar to score 2000 points and grab 1000 rebounds. Kotti was another of Welsh's European discoveries, and he proved to be a solid, versatile four year player. Sanders was the most athletic player of Welsh's tenure, but had attitude problems, stopped going to class and left school after his junior season.

Year Five
Herbert Hill, C – NR
Donnie McGrath, PG - #98
One of the problems with evaluating Welsh's last few recruiting classes is that many of the players in them are still active, and still adding to what will be, ultimately, their final stories as Friars. McGrath was a highly regarded high schooler who was sought by many top programs and was brought in to solve PC's point guard issues. McGrath has been a solid, if unspectacular performer during his first three years, all as a starter, but has not developed into the pure point that Friar fans crave. Hill redshirted a year, then played little as a freshman, before seeing more time this past season. He showed some promise as a shotblocker and scorer, but gets pushed around defensively and must get stronger to battle inside in the rugged Big East.

Year Six
Dwight Brewington, G - #52
Gerald Brown, SG - #64
Jeff Parmer, F - #152
This class made a splash among the recruiting services. Both Brewington and Brown were considered Top 60 recruits, and Parmer played for a very successful Niagara Falls High. Brewington is an exciting, if erratic, performer who must play more under control, bith physically and mentally, to reach his considerable potential. He'll be counted on to be a big scorer for the Friars next season. Brown came in mid-year due to academic issues, and never really found playing time as a freshman. He broke his ankle midway through his sophomore season, ran into some academic and off-court problems, and left school. Parmer redshirted a season, played very little early this past season, and then saw his playing time increase with the injuries to Brewington and Brown. He struggled with his shot, but is a lunch-pail type player.

Year Seven
Charlie Burch, WF - #164
Randall Hanke, C - #49 (5th year seniors)
Rob McKiver, SG - #34 (5th year seniors)
JaJuan Robinson, G - #55 (5th year seniors)
DeSean White, PF - #56
It's really early to judge this class, all of whom just completed their freshman year, but there appears to be some promise. White was considered the key to the class, a highly regarded high schooler out of Philly, and he flashed some skills in his first year. An excellent passer, White has a decent jumpshot, but needs to hit the glass harder. Hanke looks like the center of the future, displaying a long reach and a nice inside game, along with excellent shotblocking abilities. If he bulks up, the Friars could be set for the next three years at the pivot. The jury is still out on McKiver and Burch. McKiver looked lost and out of control at times while being force fed minutes at the point, while Burch is a glue-type player, but is limited in his abilities, especially at the offensive end. Robinson tore an ACL, decided he didn't want to go to class if he couldn't play basketball, and left school after a month.

Year eight for Tim Welsh got off to a bang with an early commitment from 6'8 power forward Jonathan Kale from St. Andrew's last June, and a November signing of 6'5 combo guard Weyimi Efejuku of Brewster Academy. With three scholarships to give, it will be interesting to see how Welsh and Company complete this class, and the process begins on April 13th, the first day of the Spring signing period...

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