Friar Basketball

Dunn Takes Over Alumni, More on NPSI (2.2.12)

Saturday afternoon at Alumni Hall was part high school basketball game, part celebration of the future of Providence College basketball.

Somewhat buried by the news of Nerlens Noel’s reclassification to the class of 2012 and the excitement Friar fans felt to see Providence make his list of seven was the fact that two commits already in the fold, Kris Dunn and Ricardo Ledo, were named to the Jordan Brand Classic All American game this week.

The natural inclination of any fan following this rebuilding project is to look towards the next player who could join a top 10 recruiting class nationally and hasten what looked like was going to be a long-term rebuilding job when Ed Cooley took over just ten months ago.

For those watching Dunn slice through the defense off the bounce, carve apart Mount Pleasant with his passing ability and cover a ridiculous amount of ground defensively, Saturday afternoon was an opportunity to stop asking “who’s next?” for a moment and appreciate what Providence has in the fold already.

They have an All American point guard coming, one named to the Jordan Brand game and an almost certainty to play in the McDonald’s All American game as well.

Watching Dunn was a fellow All American in Ricardo Ledo, a probable Big East all-freshman team member in LaDontae Henton, a majority of the PC athletic department, and the coaching staff that made this day a possibility.

The moment had to have hit every supporter of Providence College basketball at some point on Saturday.  It was a moment no one could have ever imagined at this point a year ago.  The best point guard in the class of 2012 was playing in Alumni Hall, a gym he will officially call home in a few short months.

The rebuilding plan is well underway with Dunn at the center of it all.

He didn’t disappoint.  Playing against a hard-charging Mouth Pleasant squad, it was the defense of New London that eventually wore down the locals.  Mount Pleasant attacked the offense glass well enough to keep it relatively close at the half, 41-27, but an early second half surge set the tone for a lopsided close, as the Whalers eventually cruised to an 82-55 victory.

At the heart of it all was Dunn, who was strong in all phases in a 27 point, 11 rebound, 10 assist afternoon.  He knocked down a pair of three pointers and threw a number of slick passes for layups, but where he impressed the most was on the defensive end and with his strength and body control in taking it to the rim.

Nearly impossible to keep out of the paint when he crosses over, and equally adept at flashing a devastating spin move that he’s now perfected near the rim, Dunn is a force off of the dribble.  What makes him so difficult to stop is how strong he is with the basketball in traffic combined with the ability to contort his body and gather his balance in time to finish.

They are skills that will be on full display at the Dunkin Donuts Center later this year.  Saturday afternoon provided a sneak preview to what lies ahead for the Friars – a team potentially loaded at the one, two and three spots thanks to a developing core and an infusion of talent on the way.

How they fill out the frontcourt over the next two months will play a large role in determining just how quickly Providence can transition from Big East also-ran to a top tier team (and judging by how they attacked the National Prep School Invitational this weekend, they are set on making more waves this spring).

Saturday afternoon at Alumni wasn’t about who might come to Providence, but what the program has already – a potentially program-changing roster next season and a coach who has quickly turned a fractured program into a family once again.


Notes from Three Days of the National Prep School Invitational:

  • The folks at the NPSI do a great job hosting an event with so much talent.  What jumped out on Thursday night and throughout Friday was that the level of competitiveness seemed down from season’s past.  There were a ton of lopsided games, making it more difficult to get a read on a lot of these prospects.  I’ve always maintained that you learn most about these kids when the stakes are highest.
  • On Saturday afternoon and night the competitiveness returned as Markus Crider and Bridgton edged Northfield Mount Hermon by three and New Hampton and Canarias Academy battled into overtime.  I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of Crider, who was the best player on the floor in the second half.  Coming off of a solid night on Friday, he did a little bit of everything in the come-from-behind win, scoring from beyond the arc, throwing down from well above the rim, finishing through fouls, and igniting fast breaks with his defense.  He was interviewed by Cox after the game and I have to think he really helped himself this weekend.
  • It was a quiet weekend for Jared Terrell, and while Noah Vonleh had his moments as well, but New Hampton is run through Olivier Hanlan and the improved Zach Auguste.  Auguste is playing a far more aggressive brand of basketball now and is good for a few really loud blocks and dunks a game.  Where’s he’s improved has been in initiating contact and finishing.  Hanlan just plays with a maturity that few kids have at this level.  He picks defenses apart, finds his own offense, and could prove to be the perfect point guard for Steve Donahue and his outside attack at Boston College.
  • Steven Adams is just so good and suddenly Notre Dame Prep is a contender for Nationals in March after playing like a .500 team before January.  They were dominant in all three games they played this weekend, with Adams the headliner.  He was the talk of the weekend.
  • With South Kent going up against two inferior opponents it was difficult to learn anything about Ricardo Ledo that we didn’t already know.
  • No team executed better than St. Thomas More from what I saw.  Jere Quinn’s teams are never an easy out, no matter the talent or size of their opponent.
  • La Jolla Prep’s Darnell Harris (Cleveland State) is a big man who scored in a variety of ways versus ND Prep.  He really caught fire in the second half, leaving me wondering if he’s a sleeper or if we just caught him on a very good night.
  • New Hope’s 6’8 William Howard is a shooter who told Cox Sports that he is being recruited by Providence.