Friar Basketball

15 in 40: #13 Patience to Pay Off for Desrosiers


Last week, the CBS Sports college basketball staff, one of the better covering the game, released their predictions for the Big East. Of the six panelists, four predicted Providence to finish 7th in the Big East, another listed them at #8, while Jon Rothstein was the only writer putting the Friars in position to make the tourney, placing them fifth.

At PC’s first practice, no one seemed particularly bothered by preseason prognostications, as a quiet confidence is growing among a group that is eager to kick off a season that locals think will prove the national pundits wrong.

This is the season that Ed Cooley has been eager to kick off since getting here. His first was a transitional season – identifying who on the current roster was with him, who he’d bring in, and changing the culture of a program gone sour.

Year 2 felt short circuited by the first semester injuries of Vincent Council and Kris Dunn, and the eligibility issues of Ricky Ledo.

In his third season, the sense is that Cooley finally has his team at Providence. His patience is about to pay off.

A big reason why is depth.

Cooley spoke quite candidly about a lack of bodies the past two seasons – and for good reason, PC played with four scholarship players at times last year. At one point, they had a bench full of suits and warmups that would have given NCAA Tournament teams troubles: Council, Dunn, Ledo and a trio of transfers in Sidiki Johnson, Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers.

Johnson was always a risk, and he became a risk that fizzled quickly last season.

The 6’9 Harris perhaps had the most buzz of any PC transfer for his ability to score and play both forward positions.

Today, we focus on Desrosiers, the seven footer from Windham, New Hampshire, who made a pit stop at Wake Forest before ending up at Providence.

* * *

It was hard not to fall for the potential of the Central Catholic center in high school. He won a pair of Division I state titles in Massachusetts and averaged nearly 14 rebounds and 7 blocks as a senior, playing in a Merrimack Valley region that produced the likes of Noah Vonleh and Georges Niang. He’d gotten the better of a young center from Everett named Nerlens Noel as a senior.

When I first saw Desrosiers playing for Mass Rivals it was easy to see what the buzz was about. My memories then were of a slender kid who wasn’t a great rebounder, but he could shoot. He made shots off of the catch and made three pointers off of a dribble or two. A lot of big young kids can shoot today, the game has taken them beyond the arc, but few can dribble, gather and connect with any consistency like Desrosiers did on that day.

Recruiting services were impressed. Rivals listed him at #41 in the class of 2010, ESPN 61, Scout 81.

Providence and Keno Davis badly wanted him – so did Friar fans. They didn’t get him.

Desrosiers joined one of the top recruiting classes in the country at Wake Forest, but after two years, and a coaching change at Providence, he found his way to the school that so desperately wanted him in the summer of 2009.

It’s been over four years since PC recruited him out of high school, but Desrosiers will don the black and white this fall.

After sitting out last season, Desrosiers will give PC what they didn’t have a year ago – a big body to play next to star forward Kadeem Batts. And a big body he is, standing 7’0 and weighing 250 pounds.

As he shared with’s Craig Leighton, Desrosiers spent the past year in the gym (5 days a week, “I’m almost the same weight, just a heck of a lot stronger”), while working on his post moves.

A portion of his summer was spent in Europe, an experience Desrosiers said was critical as he adjusts back to game speed after a year away.

Cooley could well use Desrosiers this season much in the same way that he did 7’0 center Ryan Olander at Fairfield. The big man developed himself into a solid face up big man who averaged over 10 points and two blocks per game as a junior under Cooley.

The numbers won’t be as significant as the trickle down effect Desrosiers could have on this roster. He can space the floor and let Batts go to work inside (he made 7 three pointers in his last five games at Wake), but more importantly, on the defensive end he gives the Friars a presence in the paint when Batts heads to the bench – finishing fourth in the ACC in blocks his final year at Wake.

So often last season Providence held its breath when Batts left for any significant time, but now they have a seven footer who can play alongside, or spell Batts when necessary.

He spoke of his dynamic with Batts, “He’s a workhorse.” Desrosiers continued, “He’s really taught me that I’ve always got to be on my toes. He’s a hell of an offensive player. When he’s on offense I’m playing defense, and I think I’ve helped him out as well because he’s not going up against a seven footer every night.”

The duo offers the type of depth they didn’t have a season ago, and it is a reason why so many in Providence, Cooley included, are high on this group.

Desrosiers certainly see the talent level, “I love passing the ball, and I definitely have some good options to pass the ball to (on this team). I’ve got to be more of a scoring threat this season, which I understand.”

Scoring threat, or not, Desrosiers mere presence makes the 2013-14 Friars frontcourt formidable. If he’s the center he was billed to be back in 2010, the frontline could go from formidable to the best in the Big East.

Friar fans had to wait four years, and Desrosiers had to watch for a full season, but the patience of the center, his coach, and the fan base could well pay off this year.


You must be logged in to post a comment Login