Nearly three years ago, Providence’s top two targets for the class of 2010 were Boston guard Gerard Coleman and New Hampshire power forward Carson Desrosiers. Coleman, the slashing guard, verballed to the Friars in June of 2009, and three months later Desrosiers, the skilled big man, was headed to Wake Forest after narrowing his choices to Wake, Marquette and Arizona State.
Fast forward three years, and a unique set of circumstances has Coleman on his way out of Providence, while Desrosiers is headed to Friartown after also considering Vanderbilt and Oregon State.
Here are 13 things you should know about Desrosiers and what his transfer from Wake Forest to Providence means for the Friars:
1. Desrosiers is a skilled seven footer with range beyond the three point arc and better than average ball skills for a big man. Listed at 210 pounds heading into college, Wake Forest had him at 240 this past season. Like many high school seven footers, Desrosiers was a skinny kid coming out of school, but what made him unique was a strong lower body. He’ll have to sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules, which may benefit him in the long term as he’ll have a full season to work on not only his game, but his strength. He’s a good, not great, shooter and a solid passer for a player his size. The hope is that he can round into a more versatile big, one capable of being a presence on the glass with additional strength training. Put simply, Providence is happy to take a seven footer with two years of ACC experience and his skill set. He’s a face-up big man, not the traditional low post banger, who will have two years of eligibility at PC.
2. As part of a top 10 recruiting class in 2010, Desrosiers started 22 games as a freshman for Wake Forest and 16 more as a sophomore. According to Wake Forest’s website, he had eight blocks in his first game as a sophomore and recorded multiple blocks in eight of their first nine games this season. He was fifth in the ACC in blocks per game (conference games) as a freshman and had the second most blocks of any ACC frosh, highlighted by a seven block effort against Maryland.
3. His rebounding improved as a sophomore. Desrosiers was billed as more of a shooter/shot blocker heading into college and lived up to that scouting report as a freshman, as his season high in rebounds was nine – a total he reached only once that year.
As a sophomore he reached double figures in rebounds on four occasions with a high of 12 against Nebraska.
4. Looking for reason to be optimistic about Desrosiers’ potential growth at Providence? He became a far more assertive jump shooter after a freshman year in which he connected on five 3 pointers the entire season. By the end of his sophomore season, he began to seek his three point shot more frequently, making seven 3s over Wake’s final four regular season games.
5. He’s never taken more than six foul shots in a game.
6. Desrosiers was part of a terrific five man class that committed to former Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio before he was fired in the spring of 2010. The class featured four top 100 players. Desrosiers decided to remain committed to the Deacons after meeting with new head coach Jeff Bzdelik that spring.
Gaudio had made the tournament in two of his three seasons at Wake.
7. Desrosiers was the star of the two time Massachusetts Division I state champions (the highest level in Mass public schools) Central Catholic. Central is where former UConn and URI forward Scott Hazelton starred. As a senior, Desrosiers had a triple double in the state championship game (26 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks) and made the game winner in the final seconds of a thrilling one point victory.
His high school dominance led to him being ranked in all of the major scouting services’ top 100 (#64 per ESPN, 41 per Scout, 81 per Rivals). ESPN flooded the 60s of their national rankings with New England preps, as Syracuse forward CJ Fair (Brewster) came in at 63, Vanderbilt forward Rod Odom (Middlesex) was 66 and Jason Morris of Georgia Tech (Hotchkiss) landed at 67.
8. He comes from a region that has really seen a spike in high major Division 1 talent in the past five years. The Merrimack Valley is a region of towns and cities in New Hampshire and Massachusetts running along the Merrimack River that has suddenly produced a high number of D1 prospects, including Desrosiers (Windham, NH), Georges Niang (Methuen, MA/Iowa State), Alex Oriakhi (Lowell, MA/Missouri), Evan Smotrycz (Reading, MA/Maryland), Noah Vonleh (Haverhill, MA/New Hampton Prep), Joe Bramanti (Andover, MA/Wright State), Jordan Laguerre (Manchester, NH/UMass) and former Friar Ron Giplaye (Lowell, MA).
9. Desosiers played for Hazelton’s Mass Rivals AAU program, alongside fellow D1 talent like Smotrycz, Laguerre, Ryan Canty (Fordham), and Matt Brown (Harvard). Coincidentally, both Brown and Canty’s fathers played for Providence.
The Rivals currently feature the blossoming star Vonleh, as well as sharp-shooting big man Matt Cimino (Worcester Academy) and future D1 guard Kaleb Joseph (Cushing Academy). They won the 17u Providence Jamfest last weekend.
The program’s Twitter account noted after Desrosiers’ commitment, “Ed Cooley and Providence a great fit for Carson Desrosiers. Cooley will get the best out of him. RivalsNation very happy for all parties.”
10. Cooley has apparently made a big impression on the big man, with him telling Zagsblog, “I connected with Ed Cooley instantly and everybody’s excited for the immediate future of PC basketball, including myself.”
It certainly sounded like Cooley was the X-factor in his recruitment. Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal had the first public quotes I saw, and Desrosiers said, “I always liked the campus, the size of the school and that Providence basketball is `It’ in the city, but with Coach Cooley what I felt was missing beforehand is there now.”
11. After some hand-wringing the past couple of weeks over the future of the frontcourt, Desrosiers’ commitment comes just over a year after LaDontae Henton was Cooley’s first commit at Providence.
Since that time, Henton went on to have one of the most productive freshman seasons in Providence history, the Friars nabbed a pair of top 30 players in guards Kris Dunn and Ricardo Ledo, former Arizona power forward (and top 100 talent from the class of 2011) Sidiki Johnson transferred in, while point guard Ian Baker (Arlington Country Day) verballed, and sniper Josh Fortune (Kecoughtan High School) re-committed after pledging to former head coach Keno Davis.
It’s been a busy year for Cooley and his staff.
12. While I saw Desrosiers a few times playing for Wake Forest, I watched him more closely on a number of occasions on the high school and AAU circuit. What stood out about him at the Providence Jamfest a few years ago wasn’t just that he could shoot, but that he was capable of putting the ball on the floor and pulling up from long range. There were a number of times that weekend that he had taken a dribble or two and stuck long range jump shots. He wasn’t as much of a presence on the glass back then as you’d like out of a center, and looked to be the type of skilled big man who would be better served playing alongside a physical power forward.
He flashed effective ball skills, passing and using up-fakes frequently, but lacked the tenacity at times to clean the glass and take advantage of his height. Perhaps this assertiveness comes with continued size, coaching and experience. As noted above, it was the skill set that landed him in every top 100 list and what makes him a desirable transfer for the Friars.
13. Video Highlights of Desrosiers: