Providence Recruiting News and Notes: Grassroots Circuits Underway

This past weekend marked the kickoff for all three shoe-sponsored leagues and Providence had coaches at all of three of those events, while also monitoring some events that aren’t run by the sneaker companies. I was between the Nike EYBL session in Brooklyn and the Under Armour Association in lower Manhattan. Joining me going between these events all weekend was Associate Head Coach Andre LaFleur. Brian Blaney was in Dallas for the adidas Gauntlet series’ opening event, while Jeff Battle was spotted in Staten Island at the Elevate Hoops event. Ed Cooley wasn’t on the road this weekend as he was back on campus hosting a pair of transfer targets. More on that later.

Let’s start with Dajour Dickens since I got a bunch of questions on Twitter and via email over the weekend about how the 2017 Providence commit looked while running with his Boo Williams team. Before I get into my evaluation of Dickens I want to throw out a few things to keep in mind as you read what I will write below. Some of what I write may appear negative/critical. Yup, that’s because I will be critical. If you think I’m being negative when being critical and yell at me in the comments because you think I should never be negative about the school I went to, you don’t get what I do here. I think being critical and realistic leads to a better understanding and may avoid some of the silly expectations some fans put on recruits based on a ranking or a perception (see: Lindsey, Jalen).

Dickens is long and — after standing next to him on Saturday — he’s all of the 6’10/6’11 that he’s listed at with various publications. He displayed a good motor all weekend and played with an edge to his game. He ran the floor well and didn’t appear discouraged by a lack of offensive touches. One sequence that impressed me was when Dickens received the ball in the post, made a move, got fouled without a call and didn’t bat an eye as he tore off back to the defensive rim to pin a shot against the backboard. He also knows his game, which isn’t something that can always been said about big guys these days. He took one mid-range jumpshot from the short corner against a zone defense and his form was decent, despite missing a few free throws during 3 games in Brooklyn. He showed a willingness to mix it up down low and show good feel for rebounding.

On the more critical side, Dickens has a long way to go before he’s a productive big man in the Big East conference. He did a little too much thinking on the defensive end and got caught with poor body position on a few hedging opportunities that led to easy baskets for the opponent. He didn’t look lost on offense, but he also didn’t look overly comfortable with the ball either. He needs to work on being more aggressive rebounding out of his area. Basically, Dickens needs to keep playing games and getting more experience. This is his second year playing with the U17 Boo Williams team on the EYBL circuit and he’ll get the chance to play against some very talented big men over the next few sessions.

Overall, I was impressed with Dickens and his size. The fact that he still has an entire spring/summer of AAU ball and a full high school season before getting to Providence should allow him more time to fill out his lengthy frame and hone his skills. Don’t be alarmed by lack of scoring during the EYBL season. Based on what I saw this weekend, most of his scoring opportunities with Boo Williams will have to come from offensive rebounds. All of my criticisms are things that can be worked out and developed over time and with more repetition. Dickens didn’t play much his freshman season of high school after injuring his foot, so one thing that will help his game is more experience as he is still more than a year away from stepping foot on Providence’s campus.

I’ll give passing mention to 2017 Hamidou Diallo because Providence is still recruiting him. Diallo was one of the best players in the tournament all weekend long and leads the EYBL in rims murdered. He is way ahead of schedule on the Providence recruit blow up timeline that has plagued Cooley with recruits like Donovan Mitchell. Diallo is one of the best players in the class of 2017 and appears destined for a blueblood program like Duke or Kentucky. Time for Cooley and staff to find a new recruit to focus on in 2017.

Running with Team Final out of Philadelphia is 2017 Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree. He’s listed at 6’8 or 6’9 depending where you look, but he plays bigger than that because of his long arms. He was productive in all three games last weekend and averaged 8.7 points/game, 8.3 rebounds/game and 2.0 blocks/game in Team Final’s 3-0 start to the EYBL regular season. Cosby-Roundtree doesn’t have the prototypical size for a center, but he knows how to play the game and has an excellent motor. Providence offered him last summer and the Friars continue to be a school he mentions when asked about the schools recruiting him. In fact, he cut his list on April 12th to a final 8 schools and Providence made the finalists, along with Miami, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Temple, VCU, Villanova and Xavier.

Cosby-Roundtree’s high school teammate Quade Green is also being recruited by Providence. Green is now running with the PSA Cardinals on the EYBL circuit and is the lead guard on one of the most talented teams on any grassroots circuit this spring and summer. Green recently said he plans to commit in September, but he has yet to cut his list. He’s was asked about whether or not he and Cosby-Roundtree could be a package deal and didn’t rule out the possibility. Let me take this opportunity to mention that these package deals are brought up every recruiting cycle and they rarely ever actually happen. Green led the EYBL in assists in session 1 by averaging 10.3 helpers/game.

I watched Expressions Elite play a few times over the weekend and liked what I saw from a few of their players. One player that particularly caught my eye from the get-go was 2017 Kimani Lawrence. Lawrence appears to have added strength since last summer even though he missed a good chunk of the high school season at New Hampton due to a foot injury. He attacked the rim at will and showed a relentless style on the offensive end. His jumpshot needs a lot of work, but the Providence native has high major athleticism and size for the wing spot. I expect the Friars to be all over Lawrence this spring and summer.

Switching over to the Under Amour Association, a few notable prospects played well at Basketball City in lower Manhattan. Putnam Science 2018 guard Eric Ayala played very well for WE R1 all weekend long. Ayala has excellent size for the guard spot. He can get into the lane with ease and shot the ball well from beyond the arc in the 4 UAA games to the tune of 9/18. He averaged 17.2 points/game playing alongside one of the best players in the nation in 2017 Trevon Duval.

2017 Nate Watson got an offer from Providence back in February and the big man from Arlington, VA had a very good weekend for DC Premier. He averaged 13.8 points/game , 6.5 rebounds/game and 2.3 blocks/game. Watson is a big body in the middle and he got off to a hot start on the UAA circuit by scoring 26 points on 13/17 shooting and grabbing 11 rebounds in DC Premier’s first game on Friday night.

The adidas Gauntlet opened in Dallas last weekend and a number of Providence recruits were in action in front of Brian Blaney. 2017 Makai Ashton-Langford led Mass Rivals to a 4-0 start in pool play. He averaged 10.5 points/game, 4.5 assists/game and 2.8 rebounds/game for the Rivals. Also performing well for rivals were 2017 Aaron Wheeler and 2017 Wabissa Bede. Wheeler averaged 7.8 points/game and shot 50% from the field in the 4 wins. Bede averaged 7.3 points/game and 3.5 assists/game for Rivals. The other New England team playing in Dallas over the weekend was the New England Playaz who went 3-1. 2017 Tomas Murphy averaged 8.3 points/game and 4.8 rebounds/game for the Playaz.

Brookwood Elite, a Canadian team, is made up of some talented 2018 players and one of them had a very good opening weekend on the adidas Gaunlet circuit. 2018 Luguentz Dort averaged 19.8 points/game and 6.3 rebounds/game in Brookwood Elite’s 2-2 weekend. The 6’3 Dort is a native of Montreal and plays at Arlington Country Day in Florida during the high school season.

A couple notes on the visitors that Providence hosted over the weekend and one they hosted the weekend before:

  • Heading into the weekend I was hearing that Providence led for Indian Hills JC transfer Emmitt Holt. I still believe that to be the case and would look for Holt to make a decision soon.
  • Wake Forest graduate transfer Andre Washington also appears to have the Friar high on his list and it wouldn’t be surprising if both he and Holt made decisions before the weekend.
  • A source tells that Marvin Clark will commit to St. John’s and the announcement is expected this week. Clark, a sit-out transfer from Michigan State, will have two years left at his new school. He visited Providence the weekend of April 8th and was at St. John’s this past weekend, along with Arizona transfer Justin Simon.

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