An offseason of unpredictability took what felt like a predictable turn for Friar fans this week, as it was reported that McDonald’s All American point guard Kris Dunn will require surgery to repair a torn labrum that will keep him out approximately five months.
Dunn initially hurt his shoulder in March, but the pain seemed to increase during tryouts for the USA Basketball u-18 team earlier this month, as he told theday.com, “That’s when I felt something was really going down. Every time I tried to play defense, or play offense or go up for a dunk, it just kept popping out.”
The news comes during an offseason that has seen three Friars transfer out of the program and two ACC level talents transfer in, while the roster for the coming season remains in flux.
Providence followers have closely monitored the eligibility of incoming shooting guard Ricardo Ledo for the better part of 10 months. His status most likely won’t be known until the end of the summer (or later as we saw with many high school turned prep products in the fall of 2011), but without Dunn for at least the first semester Ledo’s status becomes that much more important for Providence both on the court and for the mental state of a fanbase that feels snake-bitten in recent seasons.
Questions arose about Arizona transfer Sidiki Johnson’s intentions two weeks ago, but golocalprov.com caught up with Ed Cooley who noted the power forward is still a Friar.
The backup point guard spot is murky with spring verbal Ian Baker having yet to sign a letter of intent and injuring his knee, leaving his standing with the program in question.
Kiwi Gardner is expected to be back on campus in July after being deemed academically ineligible by the NCAA last season (as Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times first reported), but Cooley would not speak to Gardner’s status when asked by the Providence Journal’s Kevin McNamara this week.
The Dunn Decision
Perhaps no news comes as a bigger blow than that of Dunn’s injury. A versatile performer with the ability to play the 1-3 positions, Dunn was slated to provide Providence with a long, quick perimeter defender, help on the glass from the backcourt, and another ball handler to take some of the pressure off of incumbent lead guard Vincent Council.
Council, as Cooley has noted, has carried the burden of being the lone distributor for the Friars and the loss of Dunn may force him into huge minutes for the third straight season, while also removing perhaps the one player capable of creating for him.
For all Dunn was slated to bring to the court from day 1, perhaps most significant to Providence fans is what he represents. While Cooley has a season under his belt at Providence, 2012-13 was seen as the unofficial beginning of the Cooley era with the arrival of Dunn and Ledo. Ledo had been seen as a question mark to see the floor, both locally and nationally, while Dunn was thought to be the sure thing.
The sure thing is suddenly sidelined for a while – a huge blow to Providence supporters.
The inevitable speculation has already begun: should Providence redshirt Dunn instead of getting half of a season out of him? Those in favor of sitting him for the season to save a year of eligibility are working under the assumption that Dunn would stay four full seasons beyond 2012-13 – an assumption Providence has made with prospects in the past couple of years who ended up leaving the program before the fifth season arrived.
In 2008-09 new head coach Keno Davis redshirted promising sophomore Jamine Peterson on a team that won 19 games on the season and finished 10-8 in the Big East. It would have been difficult to keep an 11 or 12 Big East win team out of the NCAA Tournament and seeing as Peterson was a 20-10 guy the next season it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t have been an upgrade over frontcourt mainstays Randall Hanke and Jon Kale — or swung a game or two like he did against Boston College his freshman season.
Keno probably wishes he had that one back.
A fifth season certainly benefitted the under-developed Herb Hilll, who went from three year bit player to All Big East center in his fifth year, but considering Dunn’s elite status coming in, and assuming he continues to develop at the rate scouting services expect him to, it’s not a certainty that a postgraduate year would be the best thing for Dunn come 2016, even if it would benefit the Friars.
As followers of Providence have learned the hard way, projecting the roster a year in advance, never mind four or five, is a dangerous, and potentially deflating, habit to get into.
Dunn is down, Ledo’s status remains in question and the mental state of those in Providence can best be described as day to day.