Friar Basketball

Resetting the Friar Roster

Greg Gantt II Friars.com Providence College Athletics

Following the commitment of Syracuse transfer Brycen Goodine, Providence has two scholarships remaining this spring. Assuming current seniors are not allowed to return to school after having this year cut short by COVID-19, the Friars still have holes to fill (Luwane Pipkins and Kalif Young have already gone on record saying they would not return).

Ed Cooley and his staff will likely look for an additional point guard, as well as a big man who can not only play right away, but has a few years of eligibility remaining. That would require the NCAA to eliminate its rule forcing first time transfers to sit a year, which is being discussed. Getting an impact freshman big man at this point is virtually impossible.

The NCAA will hopefully resolve this issue quickly, as programs are flying blind a bit when restocking their rosters this spring.

Quinnipiac big man Kevin Marfo announced his decision to spend his final season elsewhere this week. Marfo led the country in rebounding this past season and was very close to committing to Providence during his senior year at Worcester Academy. Marfo is very likely not a fit for Providence, who will need big men in the pipeline in 2021-22 after Nate Watson and graduate transfer Noah Horchler are gone.

Providence hosted Maryland transfers Makhi and Makhel Mitchell — highly-regarded 6’10 twins who are still looking for a new home. Their mother tweeted that they were moving on from Providence after being told the Friars picked up a commitment from another big man and would not have room for both twins. Whether that is the case or not is speculation at this time, but an ideal situation for Providence would be nabbing La Salle transfer Ed Croswell.

Croswell is leaving the Explorers during his sophomore season and is regarded as one of the best offensive rebounders in the country. Statistically, he may be the best over the past two seasons. He ranked first in the entire country in offensive rebound rate as a freshman, and was third nationally this year prior to transferring.

In an ideal world, Providence would get a commitment from Croswell, he would be immediately eligible, and would have two years to play here. PC has reportedly been recruiting Croswell.

Assuming Jimmy Nichols returns to health next year, Providence could likely get away with a big man core of Watson, Horchler, and Nichols, with the option to play Greg Gantt or Kris Monroe as small ball four men.

That would be an option, just not an ideal one. Horchler brings skill to PC’s frontcourt, but they would be lacking mass when Watson was out of the game. The Friars would also be painfully thin in the middle if injuries were to occur.

A frontcourt addition feels like a no-brainer at this point, but again, the staff will have to feel confident it is someone who can play immediately. One of the more under-appreciated aspects of the past two seasons was having the two-headed Young/Watson center duo. Having two players with that kind of girth, who can both play, has been a rarity at Providence.

Providence will be loaded at off-guard and on the wing if Goodine is eligible. They return David Duke and AJ Reeves and both should push for all league honors as juniors. If Goodine is eligible, it would be in Providence’s best interest to play him off the ball to allow for him to build up his confidence after being essentially buried by Jim Boeheim this year. There was talk of Goodine running point at Syracuse when he committed.

Gantt could slide into Alpha Diallo’s 3/4 hybrid role as a sophomore, while Monroe would be a big bodied wing. The staff will welcome freshmen Jyare Davis and Alyn Breed to the mix next year, with Davis offering a strong bodied, 6’6 small forward option and Breed a combo guard providing depth. It is difficult to imagine either freshman leapfrogging their veteran teammates on next season’s depth chart, however.

Point guard is the other immediate area of need. Jared Bynum, a 5’11 transfer from St. Joe’s, is eligible next year and is expected to see big minutes. He played over 36 minutes a game as a freshman at St. Joseph’s, averaging over 11 points, four assists, and three rebounds per game. His over 2:1 assist to turnover ratio indicates he should be able to run PC’s offense after a year practicing with the team, but as we saw this past season, nothing is guaranteed until it happens on the floor.

Beyond Bynum, there isn’t a true point guard on the roster. Breed is a combo guard who cannot be expected to provide steady lead guard minutes next year.

Cooley spoke of Duke’s career path following that of Kris Dunn, as Dunn played off of the ball early in his Friar career. The difference was that Dunn played behind Vincent Council as a freshman, and did have 13 assists in his debut as a frosh with Council out of the lineup. A year later, Cooley was ready to hand the reigns to Dunn, but he was injured in the preseason and only played a handful of games. Duke proved to be a scoring threat from the off-guard spot last year and was PC’s most consistent outside shooter from November through March.

Duke’s explosiveness was on full display as a sophomore playing off of the ball. He could likely play at the one next year, but as is the case with the big men, if Bynum were to miss any time Providence could be relying on Duke as their only point guard. Next in line would be Goodine with the roster as it stands today.

The coaching staff continues to monitor Delaware high school point guard Elijah Allen, who is an under-the-radar prospect.

A graduate transfer point guard might make sense for Providence, but there would be challenges in convincing one to come with Bynum set to step into a big role.

The spring can be a program-changing period, as we saw in 2016 when PC added Diallo, Young, and Emmitt Holt, and again last spring with the additions of Pipkins, Bynum, and Horchler.

Providence is recruiting from a position of strength for the immediate future, especially in light of the Goodine addition, but there are still gaps to fill to solidify next year’s roster, and longer term frontcourt needs to address.

8 Comments

  1. Paul

    March 18, 2020 at 9:14 am

    Kevin, and all those involved with friarbasketball.com . Just want to say thank you for all you do for us rabid Friar Fans throughout the year. I know this season did not end as we all hoped it would. Never knowing how far this team would have gone. Again, thank you for your great work and insight on PC. Wishing you all health & safety in these difficult times. Paul

  2. Irish Spectre

    March 18, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Echoing Paul’s comment, this is the go-to site for me for serious analysis of Friars hoops. Yes, we’ve all been reminded lately of Who is really in charge, but looking back, ’19 – ’20 has to be considered as having been a success most worthy of our congratulations to Coach and his young men.

    Thank you for this site.

  3. Bat Man

    March 18, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    Ditto Mr. Paul!

  4. Kevin Farrahar

    March 18, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    Thank you sincerely. Reading these comments means more than you know. Thank you very, very much.

  5. Coach Swanson

    March 19, 2020 at 2:47 am

    When did pipkins say he wouldn’t return? His Twitter seems to say otherwise? See the tweet on potential eligibility.

  6. Kevin Farrahar

    March 19, 2020 at 8:00 am

    Hi Coach Swanson,

    He had a tweet last week that said, “Lol nah I’m done bro I gave it my all ..this all gods plan” when asked by someone if he’d entertain a second graduate year.

  7. Anonymous

    March 19, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    As always a terrific job

  8. Den O

    March 19, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    Great job Kevin. Thanks again for always keeping us Friar fans informed.