Providence kicked off their 2018 recruiting with a bang on Sunday when top-50 AJ Reeves gave his commitment to Ed Cooley ahead of Providence’s annual Elite Camp. Reeves’ commitment makes it two consecutive Providence commits from the Mass Rivals grassroots program, a pipeline that Cooley and the Friars are hoping to tap further in 2018 with David Duke. Reeves had cut his list to a final four on May 31st with the Friars being joined by Louisville, Villanova and Virginia.
Providence lost out on Makai Ashton-Langford the first go-round when the Worcester native committed to UConn and Kevin Ollie in September. This time Ed Cooley closed the deal and got a commitment from Ashton-Langford shortly after he was on campus for an official visit. Cooley built up a great relationship with both the player and the parents when chasing the Mass Rivals point guard the last several years and it appears that relationship was the key to Providence securing the services of the top-35 player. Ashton-Langford took an official visit starting April 7th after Cooley went up to Brewster Academy to meet with him on the first day coaches could be back on the road recruiting after the Final Four dead period.
Ed Cooley is not scared of a little competition. And to be clear, going toe-to-toe with schools like Kansas, Louisville, Maryland, NC State and others of that ilk isn’t the kind of thing that would normally be classified as “little competition”. Cooley has been fearless when taking on larger and more established programs when he and his staff identify a recruit they really want. If you’re a fan of a program not named Duke or Kentucky, then you’re probably used to losing recruiting battles, especially when schools like Duke and Kentucky get involved. Cooley doesn’t care. He’s going to keep his head down and keep building a relationship with the player, the player’s parents, coaches, handlers, siblings, grandparents, dog walker, etc.
Providence got more good news on the Spring recruiting front when 2016 Canadian big man Kalif Young pledged to Providence on Wednesday afternoon. Young announced the commitment on his Twitter page:
Providence may be officially out of scholarships at the moment, but that hasn’t stopped Ed Cooley and his staff from chasing players. Last week the Friars got a commitment from 2016 Alpha Diallo and that put Providence at 13 scholarships — the maximum allowed — for next season. However, Ben Bentil’s future remains up in the air as he tests the NBA waters and transfers are rampant in college basketball. One of the best available big men left in the class of 2016 is Canadian Kalif Young and Young’s father told Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com that Kalif plans to visit Providence for the weekend of May 14th and then make decision soon after that.
Bob Simon was Providence’s lead recruiter on many of the Friars’ top targets while he was part of Ed Cooley’s staff. With Simon now associate head coach at Alabama under Avery Johnson the task for Cooley was to bring in another strong recruiting assistant coach. He turned to old friend Jeff Battle. The differences between the two coach’s networks have been easy to spot. Battle has focused much of his attention in the first 4 months with the Friars on recruiting the states of Virginia and North Carolina. Both states are quite fertile with talented basketball prospects and Battle is getting Providence involved with some of the best players in those states, along with a few hidden gems that appear ready for a rise. Let’s jump in and see what Battle has been up to lately.
I hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day Weekend and people are ready for the fall to begin. Something that will begin this week is a recruiting period. That means — starting on September 9th — coaches can visit players at their homes and schools. That hasn’t been able to occur since April 22nd. The Providence coaching staff will be very busy on September 9th as they have plans to visit a lot of recruits, either at their homes or at their schools. There are also two more Friar targets that will get attention on and off campus from the Providence coaching staff. More on all of that below.