1. Took in a day at the Providence Jamfest, which was a monster event at one point, but with the huge Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) taking place in Virginia this weekend and the Philadelphia Jamfest also this weekend, talent was spread across the country. Still, that didn’t stop a number of coaches from taking in the action this weekend, including Providence head coach Ed Cooley and assistant Brian Blaney.
The headliner was clearly Mass Rivals small forward Noah Vonleh (New Hampton) who the Providence staff saw play a pair of games on Sunday. Vonleh has superstar potential, ranking fourth in the class of 2014 thanks to a versatile skill set. Vonleh does a bit of everything, but where he’s most impressive is in getting into the paint at his size and then picking teams apart with his passing ability. Few players his size have the handle, passing ability, and most importantly, the patience to make as many plays for others as Vonleh did.
Benefitting from these skills was 6’9 Matt Cimino, a face up four with terrific range on his jumper. Cimino, also a 2014 class member, connected on five second half three pointers in the 17u title game and has continued to impress since playing this past season at Worcester Academy. He was on campus for Providence Late Night Madness festivities a year ago (with the entire Worcester team) and told Cox Sports’ Adam Finkelstein recently that he was seeing interest from the Friars. Cimino is a Maine native, whose game is reminiscent of former Mass Rivals big man Carson Desrosiers. He’s very likely a better shooter than Desrosiers was in high school.
Looking for an under the radar name that may see his stock climb this summer? Salisbury forward Samuel Dingba plays bigger than his 6’6 frame – tenacious on the glass and in meeting opponents at the rim. Dingba was second team all NEPSAC at Salisbury this year (class A), playing alongside superstar recruit and Providence target Chris McCullough. I got my first look at him at the class A title game (Salisbury came out on top versus defending champ Choate) and his motor jumps out at you. Finding a position at the next level could be troubling, as his offensive game seems to be primarily at the rim, but when questioning where he might play I thought back on former Boston College guard Ryan Sidney, who carved out quite a niche for himself while Ed Cooley was at BC as the physical guard with limited range. This is a tenacious player, and if he’s more 6’7 (which he’s been listed at in certain publications) than 6’5, his stock could really take off this summer. He has high upside as a stopper. His Westchester Hawks team fell to Mass Rivals in the 17u final.
2. The staff continues to seek out dead eye shooters. Mislav Brzoja is a 2012 gunner who visited Kentucky last week, and according to reports out of Kentucky, he is scheduled to visit Providence “some time over the next week.” Bzroja is a Croatian who prepped in Indiana last year, who is also seeing interest from Marquette and Dayton. One Kentucky site reported that he did not impress on his trip to Kentucky, and may not receive an offer from the Wildcats.
A name receiving huge buzz out of the EYBL in Virginia this weekend is Kameron Williams, a 6’2 shooter out of Maryland. NBEbasketball.com reported that he has interest from the Friars, and his stock only continues to grow after he shot the lights out on Sunday.
Shooters continue to be a focus area in Providence.
3. PC offered rising 6’8 forward Abdul-Malik Abu (2014). Cooley offered Abu after seeing him play this weekend for Expressions Elite (the AAU program of Ricardo Ledo, Khem Birch and others). Abu tweeted later, “Ed Cooley is a real down to earth man.” Abu plays with fellow Providence target, the highly rated Jared Terrell for Expressions.
Cooley was busy this weekend, taking in the action at the Jamfest a day after being in Virginia for the EYBL.