The news came down late Friday afternoon before Memorial Day Weekend and was a big shock to me when I saw it but Josh Fortune is in fact transferring from Providence College.
While some Friar fans are brushing off the news, this cannot be seen as anything but bad for an already thin backcourt for Ed Cooley’s 2014-15 squad. While I agree with people who say Fortune isn’t an irreplaceable player in terms of skill set, when you look at losing him in the context of the current roster situation, he’s pretty damn irreplaceable. Right now, PC has the following guards on the roster:
- Kris Dunn
- Kyron Cartwright
- Junior Lomomba
- Casey Woodring
So just to recap the above – there is a point guard coming off a 2nd shoulder surgery who will not be rushed back, an incoming freshman backup point guard who was previously committed to Loyola Marymount and is ranked around the 45th point guard in the class of 2014, a transfer from Cleveland State who sat out last season and has a reputation as a defensive specialist and rim slasher and a walk on who saw a total of 10 minutes last season all in garbage time.
Losing Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts was tough enough but now the Friars are losing another player who averaged over 30 minutes per game in Fortune. Ed Cooley will now have to replace 103.5 minutes per game out of 200 from last season. PC will only have 3 players returning who played meaningful minutes last season in Henton, Harris and Desrosiers.
It was clear that Fortune had made big strides down the stretch of the season. He had become a much better on ball defender and had cut down on his boneheaded turnovers (though they still happened once and a while). It’s hard to say if his shooting got more consistent or if he was just hot but there is no denying that he hit some big time, clutch shots for this team. Over his last 8 games before the NCAA tournament, Fortune averaged a Cotton-like 40.1 mpg and shot 46% (21/46) from deep.
Many are now assuming Jalen Lindsey will be able to jump right in and play big minutes at the 2. That is not the case. Lindsey said himself that ball handling is one of his biggest weakness. He never had to do it at CPA because he played in the post and only started handling the ball to help out with the press break this past season at Huntington Prep but he clearly isn’t comfortable having to handle the ball much. Even with the flex offense against M2M defense, it still would be helpful to have more than 1 person on the court be able to handle the ball and PC won’t play the flex 100% of their offensive possessions and certainly won’t against a zone.
Losing Fortune makes landing someone like Antoine Mason all that much more important. A 1 year rental would be ideal because PC is heavily involved with a girth of talented guards in the class of 2015 but adding a freshman to the mix like Tramaine Isabell wouldn’t have a huge impact on any top shooting guards.
The bottom line is that Ed Cooley has his work cut out for him and it’s very late in the game to still have 3 open spots on a roster. The timing is especially bad because Providence missed out earlier this Spring on a few shooting guard targets like Matt Carlino (BYU to Marquette) and Byron Wesley (USC to Gonzaga) and having a rising junior starter that played 33 mpg returning may have made PC a less desirable landing spot for one of those 5th year rental players who would be looking for a large amount of minutes for their final season of college basketball.
Josh Fortune hasn’t given any statements yet. He hasn’t even given the obligatory “thanks for the opportunity” statement and per Kevin McNamara’s story in the Providence Journal over the weekend, Fortune’s mother indicated that her son “doesn’t want to talk until he is allowed to talk to other schools.” Perhaps his reasoning for leaving a place where he had played 1,941 minutes in 2 season will become more clear once we see what school he ends up but until then, speculation will be running rampant and conspiracy theorists will come up with some reasoning for his departure from Friartown. Many believe it has to do with his mother being home from her deployment and perhaps he wanted to finish his playing career somewhere closer to home so that she could attend his games after being overseas for the first 2 years of Fortune’s college career. Others have already tried to tie this to how his friend Rodney Bullock was treated with his suspension. But we don’t truly know anything at this point so it’s all speculation.
Josh was a good citizen, solid student and PC would not have won the Big East Championship without him. I wish him the best of luck in the future.