Friar Basketball

Coming Full Circle on Senior Night

PC Team Shot 2020 Providence College Athletics

Things have come full circle for Providence’s senior class.

Their freshman season was supposed to be a rebuilding year following the departures of a pair of NBA draft picks in Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. Things certainly looked that way after they started 1-4 in the Big East, and then had a 4-8 conference record with six games left in the regular season.

The Friars closed on a six game winning streak, however, highlighted by a 73-69 thriller at home against Marquette and a last second win at Creighton in which Kyron Cartwright buried a 3-pointer with two seconds to go.

That team’s improbable run to the NCAA tournament ended in a First Four game against USC, after Providence led by as many as 17 points, but saw the Trojans come storming back for a 75-71 victory.

Alpha Diallo started that game, as did transfer Emmitt Holt. Maliek White finished with four assists off the bench, while Kalif Young played eight minutes against a tall USC frontcourt that PC could not keep off of the boards (USC finished with a 36-27 advantage on the glass).

Providence’s unlikely tournament team in 2017 got there behind the direction of Cartwright (6.7 assists), Rodney Bullock’s near 16 points per game, and one of the best 3-point shooting seasons in program history by Jalen Lindsey (46%, 74 made 3s).

They would not have danced that year if not for the newcomers, however. Holt was the key, making up for the inside/out presence of Bentil, who led the Big East in scoring the year prior. By nearly every offensive measure, Holt was terrific for PC in his first year in black and white. He ranked in the 87th percentile in the nation in points per possession, and ranked in the 80th percentile or better in post up opportunities, scoring off of cuts, and finishing off of offensive rebounds, while landing at 71st in spot up situations.


Diallo played his way into the starting lineup and was among the best defenders in the country (90th percentile per Synergy Sports), while White and Young both averaged double figures in minutes played and saw time in all 33 games that year.

That’s a long-winded way of saying the current senior class at Providence has been here before — left for dead in January and standing tall come March.

With a win on Saturday against DePaul, on Senior Night, they all but assure themselves of the third NCAA tournament appearance of their careers.

With the exception of graduate transfer Luwane Pipkins, this is a group that has seen a lot over the last four years — from their bounce-back freshman season, to coming within an overtime session of winning the 2018 Big East championship as sophomores, to the disappointment of missing the NCAA tournament last March.


Holt could have never dreamed he would still be a Friar in 2020 the night PC fell to USC in 2017, but he overcame life-threatening surgery to return to the court.

Diallo had to have felt the wrath of an angry fanbase earlier this year — a fanbase that largely pointed the finger at three men in a season that seemed to be trending toward utter disappointment: himself, Pipkins, and their head coach.

In a college basketball world in which over 700 players transfer every spring, White stuck with the Friars through the additions of highly-touted players at his position when he could have easily taken a bigger role elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Young developed into a very good interior defender and an even better example of what Cooley wants his players to become both on and off the court.

Pipkins has gone from perceived disaster to leading a seemingly impossible February resurgence.

On Saturday they will step foot on the Dunkin Donuts Center floor for the final time, playing to bookend their careers with NCAA tournament appearances that looked so unlikely for almost all of both their freshman and senior seasons.

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