Before Ed Cooley was known as a developer of point guards, his reputation was actually just the opposite – a big man’s coach.
His history of evaluating and developing big men dated back to his time working under Al Skinner at Boston College and then followed him to Fairfield and then to Providence.
So while the success of players like Vincent Council, Bryce Cotton, and especially Kris Dunn may have changed that narrative somewhat in recent years, there is an even lengthier track record of helping big men reach their potential.
That’s going to be important for Dajour Dickens, one of Cooley’s incoming big men who just wrapped playing in the inaugural Allen Iverson Roundball Classic in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
The nearly seven-foot big man is an intriguing prospect because he is very uniquely talented but also equally raw. He can run and jump with the fluidity of a guy a foot smaller than him and that gives him all kinds of potential – as a lob catcher and explosive finisher, a rebounder and rim-runner, and even a potentially elite defender who can both protect the rim and move his feet laterally away from the basket.
But you have to be able to walk before you can run, and the reality is that Dickens still has lots to learn before he’ll be capable of realizing that potential.
He needs to develop his skill set, but first he’ll have to establish his basic fundamental principles. He’ll have to learn the game, develop his body, and embrace the type of daily work ethic such processes require.
Watch as Dickens Discusses Playing For Providence and Coach Cooley:
Friar fans should be optimistic that he’s capable of doing all of that…and, if and when he does, the potential rewards could be significant. That transformation isn’t going to happen overnight though.
Patience is going to be the biggest requisite in Dickens’ development because much of it might not happen in front of thousands of fans at the Dunkin Donuts Center, but inside Assembly Hall with Dickens, a coach, and a manager.
Expectations in year one should be tempered. His length and athleticism may be able to change some games here and there, but ultimately the Friars are going to have a much easier time relying on Emmitt Holt, Kalif Young, and even fellow incoming freshman Nate Watson.
Long term though, Dickens’ ceiling may be higher than any of those guys. The right time to evaluate him may not be next year as a freshman, but a couple of years down the road when he’s a junior and has had the benefit of two years worth of development. If everything goes according to plan and he learns to refine and hone his undeniable tools, that may be the time when we see potential evolve into results.