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Friar Recruiting Update: Changes Coming for the Backcourt

Makai Ashton- Langford, Photo Credit: Providence College

The beginning of the off-season has been met with some quick changes to the Providence College basketball roster, especially in the backcourt.

It began with Drew Edwards’ decision to transfer, which wasn’t totally unexpected given that he’s immediately eligible at another institution as a graduate transfer and played relatively limited, yet consistent, rotation minutes.

Improving their collective three-point shooting was always going to be a priority for the Friars this spring, but Edwards’ decision only magnified that given that he was second on the team behind A.J. Reaves in three-point percentage.

By Sunday, Ed Cooley and his staff had worked quickly to address that issue with the addition of Luwane Pipkins, a graduate transfer from UMass. The 5-foot-11 scoring guard averaged 16 points, 5.2 assists, and 4.9 rebounds for the Minutemen this year while being limited by injury. While he made just 28% of his three-point attempts this season, he shot 42.6% from that range the year prior.

Pipkins is more of an undersized scoring guard than true point guard but he can play pick-and-roll on the second side of the floor, provide another play-maker, as well as a spot-up shooter to help increase the team’s floor-spacing.

Luwane Pipkins vs URI (2019 season), Photo Credit: Alan Hubbard

Less than 24 hours after Pipkins commitment, sophomore guard Makai Ashton-Langford announced his intention to transfer. Externally, Ashton-Langford’s decision appeared to come in direct correlation to Pipkins’ announcement, but behind the scenes Ashton-Langford’s departure had come to be expected in recent weeks.

The Worcester native had just never lived up to expectations coming out of prep school, when he was a consensus top 50 recruit in the country. Not only wasn’t he defending or creating at the levels once expected, but as a non-shooter he was a less than ideal fit next to David Duke.

While Ashton-Langford’s career with the Friars may not have gone as expected, it did help bridge the gap to the commitments of Reeves and Duke a year later, as all three were products of the Mass Rivals.

Reeves and Duke remain the foundation of the Friars’ future, especially on the perimeter. With Maliek White expected to return for his senior year and Pipkins coming in as a graduate student, the Friars now have a solid four-man core but not yet sufficient depth.

Drew Edwards, Photo Credit: Providence College

This is the time of year when things happen fast though, not just with transfers but also high school seniors who opt to re-open their recruitment in response to coaching changes at the school to which they had previously committed.

And with two of next year’s top four guards set to graduate following the season, it would be wise for Providence to look to add another young guard to the program. Potential candidates could include New Hampton’s Mika Adams-Woods who was initially committed to Nebraska, Brewster’s Joel Brown who committed to California, and Roselle Catholic’s Josh Pierre-Louis who had committed to UNLV.

The Friars have also been actively evaluating East Catholic (CT) senior Jaylin Hunter, the son of UConn assistant coach Kenya Hunter.

With the frontcourt in relatively good shape, especially if Emmitt Holt is granted his 6th year of eligibility, the Friars might also look to add another wing to their rotation. Ideally, either out of the high school ranks or transfer market, who could help solidify the team’s depth and three-point shooting.

In short, the post-season is already off to a quick start but it isn’t anywhere near over yet as the Friars are likely to add at least two more pieces before solidifying their roster for next season.