Friars Drop Greedy, Add Gavrilovic

Tuesday proved to be a roller coaster ride for Friar fans as first the school announced the dismissal of Greedy Peterson, news that was followed shortly after with the reporting of a commitment from Alex Gavrilovic.

What has turned out to be anything but a quiet spring for Providence basketball continued on Tuesday, May 18. Just over a month after freshmen Johnnie Lacy and James Still were arrested for the assault of a fellow Providence student, star forward Jamine "Greedy" Peterson was dismissed by the school for what was termed a team rule violation.

In a press release from PC, coach Keno Davis stated, "Jamine Peterson has been dismissed from the men's basketball team for a violation of team rules. Jamine had a productive season in 2009-10. However, regardless of his athletic accomplishments, it is essential to the integrity of the program that every student-athlete meets the high standards and expectations we have at Providence College."

Peterson, a highly athletic sophomore, had averaged 19.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg for the Friars – the first Friar to record a seasonal double-double since Michael Smith in 1994. But instead of being embraced by fans as players who put up those kinds of numbers usually are, reviews on Greedy's game were mixed. Throughout the season, Peterson exhibited disturbing traits.

A ferocious rebounder who attacked the rim with abandon, Peterson often dismissed the mere notion of playing defense and rarely shared the ball, all while exuding diffident body language. Then, too, there were nagging reports of in-season off the court problems.

Coming on the heels of the Lacy/Still incident, Providence president Rev. Brian Shanley and athletic director Bob Driscoll had met multiple times with Davis, in the hopes of repairing the basketball program's image and instituting greater control. That, too, did not work in Peterson's favor. "It's not business as usual here," Driscoll told the Providence Journal. "It is an opportunity to look at all parts of our business, who we're recruiting, how we're counseling them, what the standards and accountability of our student-athletes needs to be. They all need to know what is expected of them and we need to do a better job of holding them accountable."

The incident that broke the camel's back for Greedy apparently occurred back on April 23-24, when the BABC 15-year old team was in Providence, playing in an AAU tournament held at Rhode Island College. The incident happened back at PC and Greedy was present. "There was an unfortunate incident involving some of the kids on our 15-year-old team in a dorm room" at PC, BABC founder and Boston Celtics assistant executive director of basketball operations Leo Papile told the Journal. Papile went on to say that two of his former players, Gerard Coleman and Ron Giplaye were not happy with the latest development. "To say they're not comfortable with what has gone on at Providence is an understatement. We have some big concerns about the program that they need to see addressed."

A local television station reported that drugs and sex might be involved in the dorm room incident, but understandably, Providence officials would not comment on the specifics. "I don't want to say anything bad about Greedy except we're disappointed it didn't work out," Father Shanley told the Journal. "People are going to want to know (what happened). It's natural. People will speculate and I will be asked countless times, but I will just say ‘I can't tell you.' Out of respect for Greedy's privacy and for the good of the school we're not going into the details of any incident."

Still, Shanley was unequivocal about his decision to dismiss Peterson. "From a fan's point of view, we've lost, unquestionably, our most talented player. Do I think we did the right thing? Oh, yes. I will not lose sleep over this. But I am sad for him. He's not going to get the Providence College education that we hoped he would have gotten. I wish him well. He's a talented guy, but it wasn't working here."

Meanwhile, Coach Davis has the support of the school, but clearly needs to take control of his program. The expulsions of Lacy and Still and the dismissal of Peterson are steps in the right direction, but the season-long rumors that have swirled around the program regarding off-court player transgressions would seem to indicate that systemic changes in approach, in oversight – and in consequences - are necessary.

The loss of Peterson will be felt both on and off the court next season. The Friars may play more defense without him, they may share the ball more and be more cohesive, but you don't easily replace 19 points and 10-plus rebounds a game. Off the court, impressionable high school and prep players only know Greedy for his ESPN-highlight dunks and many talented players want to play with a player like that. That type of attention is gold on the recruiting trail. Ultimately though, Greedy Peterson proved to not be a good fit for Providence College and the school made the right decision as it rebuilds its program and image.

Meanwhile, later on the same day that PC basketball hit a low, news arrived that hopefully signaled a welcome respite from the bad news plaguing the program over the past month. After visiting the campus on Monday, Alexandre Gavrilovic committed to the Friars and signed his letter of intent on Wednesday.

"Alexandre will be a strong addition to our program," Davis said. "He has a combination of size, skill and intelligence. Alexandre can hit jump shots as well as mix it up on the boards."

A strong 6'9 1/2, 230 pound forward/center from Strasbourg, France, Gavrilovic had been in the United States at IMG Academy since September, when he decided to take a prep year. During the season, IMG played 67 games, including contests against strong junior college teams in Florida and some of the best prep competition in the country.

"We play almost a pro season," IMG coach Dan Barto told ScoutFriars.com. "That's why our kids don't have a problem with the physicality of the college game. We've had 55 players earn D1 scholarships over the past nine years and a number of our players are going that route this year."

"Scoring and rebounding numbers really have no meaning for us. We don't keep track. I told Pat Skerry (who was lead recruiter on Gavrilovic), if Alex had played on a traditional high school team, he'd have averaged 22 and 15, but we have 22 players, we sometimes split our squads and sometimes he only played half a game, so its not really fair to talk about numbers," said Barto.

"Alex is a block-to-block face-up four man who can play the center spot defensively," Barto continued. "He can score, he can block the ball and he'll get to the free throw line. He's a smart, disciplined, crafty player. He's actually better over his right shoulder with his left hand. He loves the low right block, back to the basket, going to his left. His ability to step out to three point range and shoot will help Providence."

Like any European, Gavrilovic needs to improve in some areas. "He's a young 18, turned 18 during the season," said Barto. "He has a lot of room to grow athletically and add strength. He won't be dunking on everyone but he will score. He has trouble with quick finishes and guarding smaller players and needs to improve on the defensive boards. But he never played AAU ball, was never ranked anywhere, and he's hungry. He had no distractions this season and could focus on just becoming a better player because we didn't worry about recruiting until March."

"Some of the schools that came after him were Oregon State, Wake Forest, Central Florida, Colorado, James Madison and Iona, but I really like coach Davis and Skerry. They're genuine and not hustlers. We almost sent John Riek to Providence last year and we pushed for him to go there but it didn't work out," Barto said.

Gavrilovic, who grew up in Strasbourg, France and has a Serbian father, will play for the French Under-20 National Team this summer and won't arrive at Providence until August, but the young frontcourt prospect will add needed height and bulk to the Friars frontcourt and his addition was welcome news on an otherwise difficult day for Friar fans.

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