Here are some Providence news and notes from the week, which included a 2018 commitment.
Nichols Picks Providence
It traditionally doesn’t bode well for Providence in a recruitment when a player decides to announce his commitment at a big ceremony or on TV. So, when it was announced that 2018 Jimmy Nichols, who had just returned from an official visit to Friartown over the weekend, would end his recruitment by announcing his choice live on TV there were more than a few among the Friar Faithful that were skeptical of Providence’s chances, especially when Nichols’ hometown school was in the mix. But, alas, the TV announcement wasn’t on ESPN and Nichols didn’t do any pomp or circumstance. The Conway, SC native matter-of-factly announced that he would be playing his college ball at Providence College.
Nichols was joined on TV by his parents and his grassroots coach, Dwayne West of Garner Road, also was in attendance at the WPDE ABC 15 TV station to support the 6’7 lefty. By now you’ve probably read a few articles and/or scouting reports on Nichols. I want to point you to two interesting quotes from articles out after the commitment:
“They knew he wasn’t playing and they still came to the games to support his team while Jimmy supported his team from the bench. That goes a long way,” said Garner Road coach Dwayne West.
This has been Ed Cooley’s standard operating procedure. He did the same with Donovan Mitchell when Mitchell missed games due to a wrist injury. It would be easy for a coach to say it isn’t worth our time to sit and watch a recruit in street clothes, but Cooley and his staff have been very good at zeroing in on the players they really want and putting in that extra effort to show their level of commitment to the recruit. Vintage Cooley.
“The opportunity to come in and play right away in the Big East was big,” Nichols said. “Providence has played in March four years in a row.”
Nichols mentioned the conference he would play in as an important factor during his recruitment and apparently the Big East is major enough for him. The second quote is the one I really want to flesh out. Early on the thing that Cooley could sell to potential recruits was playing time and/or the chance to build the Providence program up into a winner. Well, guys like LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn bought in and helped get Providence to a point where their winning ways are now being noticed by teenagers in South Carolina. That’s a huge shift and a sign that the Providence program is on a different plane than it was pre-Cooley.
Providence to Return to Mohegan Sun in 2018
Jon Rothstein reported on Wednesday this week that Providence would be among the headlining participants in the 2018 Hall of Fame Tip Off at Mohegan Sun in November of 2018. As I wrote on Wednesday, this will be Providence’s second appearance in the event after they won it in 2014 behind a career-high 38 points from LaDontae Henton. The event should be a very solid one for the Friars’ 2018-19 non-conference schedule as they will play two of George Washington, Michigan and South Carolina, plus two games at home against the other half of the event. Those teams are not yet known. In 2015, the Friars played Binghamton and Navy at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and then Florida State and Notre Dame at Mohegan Sun Arena.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 6, 2017
Big East Shootaround Taped in Providence
The weekly show Big East Shootaround hosted by John Fanta was in Providence on Friday filming for next Thursday’s episode that will air live on Facebook at 3pm ET. Fanta and co-host Jay Alter spoke with Kyron Cartwright, Alpha Diallo, Ed Cooley and Bob Driscoll while on campus. I’ll have a post up on Thursday reminding you to tune in live, but you can also watch the video anytime after it airs.
— PC Men's Basketball (@PCFriarsmbb) September 8, 2017
Listen to Ed Cooley on Sports Doctor Podcast
Ed Cooley was a guest on the latest episode of the Sports Doctor podcast with Keith O’Brien of the Connecticut paper The Day. It’s worth the 15 or so minutes with a wide range of topics discussed, including some of Cooley’s thoughts for the 2017-18 Providence team. Some notable quotes from Cooley’s appearance including college basketball being a full-time gig, the Big East, advice for recruits and the possibility of Providence and UConn restarting their rivarly:
“Basketball season is a 24/7/365 job and if you’re not recruiting, you’re not breathing and if you’re not breathing you’re not living.”
“Basketball runs our league [the Big East] and it’s so much fun. Everybody thought once the football schools left the Big East that the Big East would fold. Last year 7 out of the 10 teams made the [NCAA] tournament and I think that speaks for itself on the dominance of the league and what we do.”
“Go where you fit. Go where you have an unbelievable relationship with the coaches, the community…Providence College isn’t a good school, it’s a great school because of President, the AD and the Board of Trustees. Good place to go.”
“Kevin [Ollie] and I both talk about it [ restarting the PC/UConn game]. It has to be the right fit. We’re both trying to create some space in our schedule for it to happen…This is what happens in business…Unfortunately the amount of money that University of Connecticut has put into football has put their basketball situation in a tough spot.”
Big East’s Freshman Fundamentals Returns
The Big East announced on Friday that their Freshman Fundamentals program will return for a third straight year. It will again take place in NYC and the format and substance appears to be largely the same with panels, presentations and discussions. In their release, the league said “thirty-five student-athletes are expected to participate.” I wrote about the popular program around this time last year for the SB Nation site BigEastCoastBias.com. You can read that to get my more long-form feelings and hear from some of the participants in the first ever program in 2015. In this space I’ll just say that this program is something that sets the Big East apart and was an excellent idea by former Providence assistant and current Senior Associate Commissioner for Men’s Basketball Stu Jackson.
Follow me on Twitter @pcbb1917