Friar Basketball

On Dajour Dickens’ Transfer

Dajour Dickens Providence

In a brief press release, Providence announced on Thursday that sophomore center Dajour Dickens left the program to “pursue other opportunities.”

Here are some thoughts on Dickens and this announcement:

1. The Friars were in on Dickens early, landing a commitment from the seven footer out of Virginia in February of his junior year of high school. At the time he was regarded as a top 100-150 type prospect and received high praise from scouting pundits.

Scout’s Brian Snow wrote, “Quite honestly, there are just a very small number of prospects in the country that have his combination of height, length, athleticism, and ability to run the floor.”

Corey Evans, then of Hoopseen, added, “Dickens is very mobile as he gets up and down the floor like someone six inches shorter.”

This was an upside play and Providence was very high on his potential. Someone within the program told me at the time that he thought Dickens had top 50 potential and was a better prospect than former Friar Paschal Chukwu (this coming from someone who is typically very measured with his praise). Dickens’ height combined with his athleticism and coordination was rare for a 16 year old.

It was a long term investment — one that ultimately won’t pay off for PC.

2. So, how had Dickens looked of late? Someone who had seen him multiple times this summer told me he hadn’t stood out early, but Dickens eventually flashed a more than adequate jumper.

Ed Cooley has been very cautious with Emmitt Holt, but he has been participating in practices this summer after abdominal surgery last fall. With a healthy Holt, Nate Watson emerging late in his freshman season, and Kalif Young spending much of last season in the starting lineup, Dickens most likely entered the next season behind those three on the depth chart. That’s not to say he wouldn’t have developed into a starter at some point in his PC career, but it is fair to question if Providence’s potential depth this season played a role in his decision.

3. I’ve never paid much attention to how many scholarships a school projects to have available in a year, and a June transfer is a good reminder of why that’s the case.

If coaches want to make room for a potential program-changing prospect they will, and players can up and leave at any point.

When former Friars Chukwu and Josh Fortune decided to transfer in May the feeling was that they did so very late in the game. It’s now late June and Kentucky picked up an All Pac 12 graduate transfer last week, and a player who committed to PC as a junior is gone and we barely bat an eye. Perspective has changed over the past four years.

4. I was in high school when Providence won the Big East Championship in 1994 and also for the Elite Eight run of ’97, and remember thinking the Friars were simply more physical than virtually any team in the country.

With the likes of Michael Smith, Dickey Simpkin, Ruben Garces, and Eric Williams, PC seemed capable of bullying teams even in the toughest conference in the country.

Dickens didn’t project to be a physically punishing player at Providence, but in the post-Bentil/Chukwu era, Cooley seemed to have injected the program with a blend of length and girth in the frontcourt that had been lacking.

One of the most encouraging signs of last March’s Big East Tournament run to the title game came in the Big East Semifinals. Xavier was running over PC early, but Watson made a pair of statement plays — once aggressively following through with both hands on a block attempt after a whistle, and minutes later swinging down hard on another block attempt.

It was almost a dismissive show of aggression from Watson, who then turned around and went to work offensively in the paint in a come-from-behind win. It reminded me some of the force and attitude Michael Smith played with.

At this time a year ago, my hope was that Young, Watson, and Dickens would eventually allow PC to play big enough to overcome the size that has killed them in the NCAA tournament under Cooley.

Bryce Cotton’s 36 point explosion was squandered when PC couldn’t keep North Carolina off the offensive glass. Carolina was too big again in ’15, 2016 brought USC going with three players over 6’10 out of desperation, and this past March Texas A&M was also too much to handle inside.

With Holt, Watson, and Young returning, PC still has plenty of size for 2018-19, but it hurts to lose a player like Dickens —who is all of seven feet — because it’s so difficult to find high upside big men.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous

    June 30, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Should have played him last year

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