There were high hopes for the Providence College 2020 recruiting class after Ed Cooley and his staff made early headway with a variety of nationally ranked prospects including Lance Ware, Earl Timberlake, Hunter Dickinson, A.J. Hoggard, Xavier Foster, and Niels Lane among others.
Unfortunately, with the early signing period set to wrap-up on Wednesday, it doesn’t look like the Friars will come away with any of those targets.
Ware signed with Kentucky. Hoggard with Michigan State. Foster stayed home at Iowa State. Lane signed with Florida. Timberlake made a verbal commitment to Miami, but elected not to sign. Dickinson is the only still uncommitted prospect but trimmed his list in early October to Duke, Florida State, Michigan, and Notre Dame.
The Friars aren’t leaving the signing period totally empty handed though as they landed an NLI from Alyn Breed, a 6-foot-3 combo-guard from Georgia who currently attends IMG Academy in Florida.
Here’s a look at three key questions coming out of the period:
— alyn breed ひ (@alyndbreed) September 8, 2019
What are they getting in Breed?
Breed is a scoring guard who can put points on the board in various ways and from multiple spots on the floor. He’s well-built with good positional size, length, and a solid frame. He graduated from McEachern High School in Georgia last year where he played alongside Auburn bound point guard Sharife Cooper and current Auburn freshman Isaac Okoro.
He put up 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists per game despite being his team’s third option and helped lead the group to a 32-0 record including a Georgia 7A state championship and the title at the City of Palms event in Florida.
He again played alongside Cooper, as well as Kentucky bound forward B.J. Boston, in the Nike EYBL and was a double-figure scorer in a complimentary role averaging 10.3 points per game on 48% shooting from the floor and 73% from the arc.
This year at IMG, Breed will likely have an opportunity to be more of a primary playmaker and while that may reveal his ability to shoulder more of an offensive load, ultimately his willingness to buy into a complimentary role in order to contribute to winning at the very highest levels of both the high school and grassroots level, is a very encouraging sign in its own rite.
Cooley also noted his quickness and defensive potential saying, “We are looking forward to having Alyn join our Friar family next year. He is a versatile combo guard, who can score from many spots on the court. Alyn also has great quickness and we believe he will be a solid defender.”
In short, Breed is a well-rounded guard, capable of scoring the ball in multiple ways without a ton of volume, holding his own on the defensive end, and with equally versatile physical tools thanks to his combination of size, length, and quickness.
Why did they strike-out with the higher profile prospects?
This is where some context is very necessary because, while it’s true Providence didn’t land any of their high-profile targets, the uninformed public criticism they’re taking for it isn’t fair.
First and foremost, these are the types of recruits who haven’t even considered Providence in a long time. Timberlake, Dickinson, Ware, Foster, and Hoggard have all been rated as top 50 national recruits by at least one of the three major national recruiting outlets.
None are from New England.
To put it in perspective, Cooley has landed a total of seven ESPN 100 prospects directly out of high school in his tenure at Providence – Kris Dunn and Ricardo Ledo in 2012, Brandon Austin in 2013, Paschal Chukwu and Jalen Lindsey in 2014, Alpha Diallo in 2016, Makai Ashton-Langford in 2017, David Duke and A.J. Reeves in 2018, and Greg Gantt in 2019.
In other words, while Cooley has elevated PC’s recruiting far above any of his recent predecessors, the Friars have landed a total of three nationally ranked prospects from outside New England in his tenure, none of whom reside in the top 50.
Conversely, they’ve also been able to both identify and then develop the likes of Rodney Bullock, Ben Bentil, Kyron Cartwright, Nate Watson and others into critical pieces for their program, despite the fact that they weren’t priority recruits for a plethora of high-major programs coming out of high school.
So why bother targeting the caliber of prospects that you haven’t historically been able to get? First, in this day and age of transfers, there’s a better chance than ever that your initial efforts could pay dividends down the road. Second, because it gives you increased collateral on the recruiting trail. Third, because when you’re building a program from the ground up (which is what Cooley has done) you have to continue to push the boundaries in order to take your program to new levels.
Where do they go from here?
In addition to Breed, the Friars also have Jared Bynum and Noah Horchler currently sitting out per NCAA transfer rules and slated to join the line-up in 2020-21. They are also expected to return David Duke, A.J. Reeves, Nate Watson, Jimmy Nichols, Kris Monroe, and Greg Gantt among others, so there’s a very solid core already in place.
The two biggest priorities are at the ends of the line-up, with bigs and point guards. As a junior, Duke may be ready to slide back over to the point and Bynum provides a solid option as well, but with 13 scholarships available, there’s no excuses for any division I teams to not have at least three reliable options on their roster for the most important position on the floor.
Up front, they need a true center who can play some rotation minutes next year and be able to take over the starting job a year later.
Now, as history has shown there’s lots of different ways to fill these spots. The Friars took three transfers a year ago and will undoubtedly be active on that front again this year. They’re also bound to continue mining the high school and prep school markets for the type of under-the-radar talent that has served them so well in years past.
THE PC FRIARS TAKE ON MERRIMACK TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH AT 7PM ON COX’S YURVIEW – CHANNEL 4 IN RHODE ISLAND