College programs have a way of re-evaluating their recruiting needs once the season starts.
There are, inevitably, some surprises. Some players may exceed expectations, some may disappoint. Early season returns could lead to unforeseen rumors of transfers or NBA declarations. There may be certain roles, niches, or characteristics that weren’t particularly glaring during the off-season but are now obvious areas of need to be addressed with next year’s recruiting class.
Providence has one scholarship left available now, which means they could add a mid-year transfer and at least two more opening up next year when Isaiah Jackson and Emmitt Holt graduate. Drew Edwards is also expected to graduate this spring, although he’ll have a year of athletic eligibility remaining, which means he could opt to return or potentially elect to transfer and be immediately eligible as a graduate student.
They signed one player during November’s early signing period, Greg Gantt Jr., an athletic combo-forward from North Carolina.
That leaves next year’s depth chart looking a little something like this:
4/5 – Nate Watson (JR), Kahlif Young (SR)
4 – Jimmy Nichols Jr.
3/4 – Alpha Diallo, Kris Monroe, Greg Gantt Jr.
2/3 – A.J. Reeves
1/2 – David Duke Jr., Maki Ashton-Langford
1 – Maliek White
It may seem counterintuitive for a team that features a pair of star freshmen and two other potential lead guards, but Providence’s greatest need for the rest of the 2019 recruiting cycle may lie in the backcourt. Those four players – Reeves, Duke, Ashton-Langford, and White – give Providence great talent and experience but equally limited depth and insurance against injuries or unexpected departures with potentially no one else behind them.
While it may be a hard sell for Ed Cooley and his staff to convince a guard out of the high school ranks that they have a need, and minutes available, that is exactly what they do need. Specifically, the Friars could use a distributor and open shot maker.
They already have a wealth of athletes and potential playmakers but with Jackson graduating, and Edwards’ return uncertain, they have limited three-point shooting and floor spacing after Reeves. In fact, Duke, Ashton-Langford, and White were shooting a combined 26% from three (12-45) through the first nine games of the season.
All three lead guards have the size to play off the ball at times and any experienced college coach will tell you the one position where you can’t afford to leave yourself without contingency plans, is the point guard.
Some depth and insurance on the wing wouldn’t hurt either. Diallo will be a senior next year and while there’s plenty of other combo-forwards on board, both Monroe and Gantt are probably more four than three. Someone other than Reeves who could slide between both perimeter positions off the ball would be ideal.
The Friars have recently been linked to two such prospects in IMG Academy’s Lester Quinones, one of the best remaining shooters left in the country, and Massanutten Military Academy’s Dereon Seabron, who is not a shooter but is very unique with his ability to handle, pass, and make plays with his size and length.
Up front, The Friars project as having quality depth next year but if they want to keep it that way moving forward, another true big man wouldn’t be a bad idea. Young will be a senior next year and Watson a junior. Nichols is more of a natural four-man but has the motor and rebounding prowess to play some small-ball five at times if necessary.
Given those three, they could afford to take more of a long-term project who they could develop as a freshman before potentially inserting him in the rotation as a sophomore. The Friars hosted Akok Akok for an official visit this fall, but, after his recent commitment to UConn, aren’t deeply involved with any other frontcourt prospects to date.
Overall, the Friars have at least three scholarships to give and potentially a fourth if Edwards, or someone more unexpected, opts not to return. The first priority is a facilitating guard who can make open shots, while a true wing and developing big man are also potential targets.
The Friars face off against Albany, Tuesday, December 18th at 7:00pm EST on YurView New England, channels 4 & 1004.