Friar Basketball

Jake O’Brien a fit for the Friars

Ed Cooley certainly hasn’t been averse to going the transfer route, specifically when it comes to filling out the frontcourt, grabbing three players from high major programs (Sidiki Johnson/Arizona, Carson Desrosiers/Wake Forest, Tyler Harris/North Carolina State), but on a team desperate for size in the upcoming season, only Johnson will  be eligible for the upcoming season.

Beyond LaDontae Henton, who should see significant minutes at power forward due to the matchup problems he creates as an inside-out scoring presence, Providence projects to be thin in the paint in 2012-13.  Returning perhaps the best play-maker in the Big East in Vincent Council, sharpshooter Bryce Cotton, and welcoming the promising trio of Kris Dunn, Ricardo Ledo, and Josh Fortune the 1-3 spots should be well accounted for, but it is the inexperience frontcourt that has some pundits believing Cooley is another year away from making the leap to the middle of the Big East pack.  It’s that inexperience, plus the uncertainty surrounding Dunn’s return from shoulder surgery and Ledo’s eligibility, that has tempered the expectations in Providence.

While Cooley and his staff have searched far and wide to land a big man who can have an impact next season (both Harris and Desrosiers must sit a year per NCAA transfer rules), many in Friartown had resigned themselves to a frontcourt consisting of Henton, redshirt junior Kadeem Batts, redshirt sophomore Brice Kofane, Johnson and the seldom used Lee Goldsbrough.

The Friars could get a significant boost should they land 6’8 Boston University transfer Jake O’Brien, who announced this week that he intends to transfer.  O’Brien, the former America East Rookie of the Year, is eligible to play immediately as he’s already completed his undergraduate work.  He has an extra year of eligibility as he missed the entire 2011-12 season recovering from a broken foot that he injured the previous season.

Providence, Temple, Virginia, Purdue, Boston College, North Carolina State, and Ohio State are the schools he’s considering according to CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman.

A closer look at O’Brien:

1. He’s seen a lot of change in his time at BU:  He won freshman of the year honors under Dennis Wolfe, who was fired prior to O’Brien’s sophomore campaign.  He was an all-league performer for Pat Chambers, who led the Terriers to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 before departing for Penn State.  Former Boston College assistant Joe Jones took over the program a season ago, which leads us to…

2. Recruiting factors: Former Cooley assistant Carmen Maciariello is on Jones’s staff at BU, which could serve as an in for Cooley and his staff (“recruiting is all about relationships” Cooley told us in May), but it’s probably no greater advantage than Boston College would have with the Jones/Steve Donahue relationship.

O’Brien is a local product, growing up in Weymouth, MA – an hour ride to Providence.  He is reportedly interested in playing for a program with legitimate NCAA aspirations.  While not the NCAA Tournament lock that NC State or Ohio State appear to be, Cooley could sell him on playing huge minutes for a team that could make a run at a bid with a few breaks.

3. Health would be something to be monitored as O’Brien missed a season and a half due to a pair of foot surgeries, but a one year deal would certainly be worth the gamble.

4. And why’s he worth the gamble?  He’s a 1,000 point scorer, despite playing just two and a half seasons on Commonwealth Ave, shooting 36% from three point range for his career.

He’s had solid games against good competition as well, including 20 points and 10 rebounds versus George Washington, 20 and 5 against Harvard (on 4-8 from 3), and 13 and 5 versus Villanova on 5-7 from the floor (3-5 from 3) in 2010-11.

As a sophomore he had 18 points and 10 rebounds against UConn, 14 and 13 in a win over Indiana, and 20 and 8 against VCU.

Jeff Goodman wrote that he believed O’Brien could have made a push for conference player of the year this season had he decided to stay with the Terriers.

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