As the Friars surge up the Big East standings continues, they are simultaneously focused on adding a couple more key pieces to their recruiting class.
One of the most notable remaining holes in the class lies up front, where they are in need of a true big man. (Especially after adding Syracuse transfer Brycen Goodine.)
The Friars will lose both Emmitt Holt and Kalif Young after this year while Nate Watson will be a senior next year.
North Florida transfer Noah Horchler is currently sitting out but has reportedly been impressive in practice while Jimmy Nichols elected to red-shirt this year as well, given the Friars depth up front.
While both Horchler and Nichols are more traditional fours than fives, they’re each capable of sliding over if Ed Cooley elects to experiment with smaller line-ups next year.
The goal though is to find someone who can complement those two, provide a true center to bang inside next year and back-up Watson, and then be ready to contend for an increased role as a sophomore.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the players we know to be on the Friars’ board in that spot:
Josh Gray, Putnam Science Academy –
If size is the priority, the Friars aren’t likely to find anyone with more of it than Gray. While he might measure a hair underneath it, he’s listed at 7-feet tall and has an incredibly powerful build to match.
His physical presence around both rims is his primary value but he’s made gradual offensive strides, learning to catch-and-finish plays more quickly and fluidly inside and adapting to higher level competition after running with the PSA Cardinals on the EYBL last spring and summer and then transferring into Putnam Science Academy this year from Knox School in New York.
Gray may never be an offensive focal point at the next level but he has a more-than-college-ready body and will be ready to bang from day one.
His recruitment seemed to peak last spring, but he’s had a variety of high-major suitors in the northeast region, including the Friars, keeping close tabs on his progress all season long.
Gabe Wiznitzer, Hargrave Military Academy –
Another listed 7-footer, Wiznitzer doesn’t have the same physical tools as Gray, but he’s more skilled and versatile on the offensive end of the floor. He can operate with his back to the basket, step-out and hit an open three, and has even shown some occasional signs of passing potential off the post or the elbows.
He may never be an alpha on the offensive end of the floor, but he would have value in various sets and concepts because of his ability to be a threat at different spots on the floor. Athletically, he has some deceptive bounce in space, but is rarely explosive through contact. He’s more limited laterally when asked to defend the perimeter and thus a pure-5 despite the versatility he may be able to offer offensively.
From a recruiting standpoint, Wizntzer is a true senior who has said he plans to return to Hargrave next year as a post-graduate. There are an increasing number of schools though willing to take him in 2020 and the Friars are presumably the latest to join that list (which also includes the likes of DePaul and South Florida) after offering him last week.
Prince Moses, Northfield Mount Hermon – Moses doesn’t have the same type of height as Gray or Wiznitzer, standing right around 6-foot-8, but he compensates for that with long arms, a powerful frame, and good athleticism.
The Friars hosted him for an unofficial visit two weeks ago after NMH played at the NPSI at nearby Rhode Island College. The visit marked a clear escalation in Moses’ recruitment as his two offers so far this year had come from Brown and Holy Cross.
However, 16 months ago, just prior to his senior year at Tennessee Prep Academy, he reportedly picked up an offer from Wisconsin. The Badgers haven’t been active in his recruitment so far this year, but nonetheless it goes to show that the Friars, who have not yet offered, aren’t the first high-major program to be intrigued by Moses’ tools.
Physically, he could hold his own at that level, but what makes him interesting is the rate in which he’s improved over the course of his post-graduate season at NMH. He got off to a slow start after missing some time with injury but has seen his overall impact grow with each passing month.
Now, he’s asserting himself around the rim, both physically and athletically, while also expanding his skill set, which really didn’t seem to extend outside the paint when he arrived. He’s made free-throws and mid-range jumpers more consistently, and even knocked down a couple of threes.