Story highlights include:
- Cotton is well on pace to finish top 10 all-time in scoring at PC
- He’s doing it efficiently, as the only player in the top 15 nationally in scoring taking less than 14 shots a game
- Cotton could become the only junior at PC ever to average 20 points per game in the Big East era
- He’s made four or more 3s in nearly half of Providence’s games
Providence junior Bryce Cotton is 27 points shy of 1,000 for his career. Few would have guessed he would lead the Big East in scoring, or be anywhere near 1,000 just two years ago.
Playing on a team desperate for scoring options alongside Marshon Brooks, Cotton was used sparingly during his first season at Providence, averaging just 4.0 points on 38% shooting from the field and 25% from three point range.
He was the final addition to a five man class in 2010 – a class in which only he and Brice Kofane remain from. It was a recruiting haul that at one time featured a pair of top 100 guards in Gerard Coleman and Joseph Young, a duo that was supposed to catapult the Friars back to respectability after a 4-14 Big East campaign.
Coleman is now gone, Young never came, and for all of the ink that the 2010 recruiting class got Keno Davis that season, it is Cotton, an afterthought in every major recruiting publication, who looks to be an all-conference performer three years later.
That Cotton could finish the year among Providence’s top 25 scorers ever, (he’s roughly 250 points shy of Dickey Simpkins at #26 and would be right on his heels if he averages 20 a game the rest of the way) with a very real chance of finishing in the school’s top ten in scoring (Otis Thorpe is 10th at 1625 points) is a testament to his dedication, but also just how difficult it is to project how so many high school prospects will fare.
There’s simply no telling which kids will be content to play at this level and which are determined to excel once there, getting better with each passing day.
Cotton has certainly continued to get better. Ed Cooley lobbied for him as the country’s most improved player a season ago, and he’s been far better as a junior. His field goal percentage is up from .413 to .478 and he’s shooting three pointers at nearly a 42% clip after shooting shy of 38% last season. Cotton is also making 3.4 threes a game after hitting 2.4 a season ago.
His 21.7 points and 3.4 threes both lead the Big East and he’s scored 20 points or more on 14 occasions this year. Those waiting to see if he could produce at this rate in Big East play have seen him score 20 or more in six of eight conference games, with his 19 against Marquette snapping a streak of six straight games over 20 points.
He’s made at least two 3 pointers in every Big East game this season and has hit one in every game overall. He’s made four or more threes in nearly half of Providence’s games (eight of 20).
Perhaps most significantly, Cotton’s game has evolved from a perimeter-oriented shooter to diversified scorer. He’s an improved threat from deep, but he’s also taking 6.5 free throws a game – way up from just 3.2 a year ago.
If Cotton were to average 20 points per game over the next ten he’d cross 600 points for the season heading into the Big East Tournament. That would put him just shy of 1,200 for his career, and with another 500 next season (roughly 16 points per game, not including postseason play) he’d find himself somewhere between Marshon Brooks’ 1629 career points (9th all time at PC) and Ernie DiGregorio’s 1760 (8th).
A 600 point senior season (less likely with added scoring options next year, but possibly aided by more postseason games) and he could be getting into truly rarified air at Providence.
Yet, to project out the next year and a half of his career is to ignore what Cotton doing this season.
If he continues to average over 20 points per game this season he’ll be the only Friar junior to average 20 or more since Providence joined the Big East.
He’s currently fifth in the nation in scoring, and one of only two among the top ten nationally to play in a high major conference.
Cotton is the only player in the nation’s top 15 in scoring to do so while taking under 14 shots per game. In fact, only two other players in the top 15 are taking less than 15 a night.
If he were to break the 1,000 point barrier on Thursday it would mean he’s having yet another monster game, but whenever he eclipses 1,000 it will be a testament to the vast improvements of Bryce Cotton and the unpredictability of the growth of players from 17-22 years old.
That we’re even discussing some of these numbers seemed utterly inconceivable not long ago.
Email Kevin at email@example.com