The Friartown Fan Voice podcast returns for the first offseason edition to preview the first live recruiting period of April getting underway on Friday. I was again joined by Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times and we discussed a wide range of topics, including the commitment of Makai Ashton-Langford, the outlook for the 2017-18 roster, the 2018 recruiting class and more.
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Scout.com has now joined Rivals.com and ESPN by closing out their 2017 recruit rankings. The final rankings by Scout include 9 Big East commitments among the Top-100 and two Providence pledges made the cut, while the third was just on the outside of the line. Makai Ashton-Langfordgot his highest ranking of the three major services by finishing 33rd with Scout. Nate Watson also got his highest ranking among the “big three”, finishing 66th. Dajour Dickens finished as a 4-star center but was listed 3 slots outside the 100th-ranked player.
It’s that time of year when all the various scouting services finalize their recruit rankings for the senior class as the recruiting scene shifts fully to the juniors, sophomores and even the high school freshman with the grassroots season imminently upon us. Rivals relesed their final Top 150 last week and Providence had all three of their committed recruits inside the marker, including Makai Ashton-Langfordand Nate Watsonboth being inside the top 85. Dajour Dickenswas ranked 121st by that publication. Watson finishes with ESPN as 4-star center with a grade of 82. He’s ranked 20th nationally in the center category. Dickens finishes with ESPN as a 3-star center with a grade of 76. He’s ranked 42nd nationally in the center category.
All in all, the Big East had 16 commitments in Rivals Top 150. ESPN’s final Top 100 wasn’t as kind to the Friars or the league. Providence’s lone representation in the final ESPN Top 100 for the Class of 2017 is Ashton-Langford, who does get a little boost up to 36 from the 44th by Rivals. The Big East only has 7 of their commitments inside the Top 100 line and it should be noted that there are players ranked inside the Top-70 by Rivals who aren’t on ESPN’s Top 100, so it isn’t just players ranked in the 101-150 range missing from ESPN’s list.
Even though Providence may not be done adding players to next season’s rosterthe three players they have signed in the Class of 2017 all finished inside the Top 150 in the final release by Rivals.com out on Wednesday. Not only did Makai Ashton-Langford, Nate Watson and Dajour Dickens all finish in the top 150, but Ashton-Langford was in the Top-45 and Watson the Top-85. The Big East also had a very good recruiting haul and there are still a few uncommitted players in Rivals’ Top 150 that some Big East programs remain in the mix for.
Ed Cooley and Providence got great news on April 10th when Makai Ashton-Langford called the Friar head coach from his dorm room at Brewster Academy to commit after getting his release from UConn nearly two weeks prior. Ashton-Langford cannot sign a second National Letter of Intent because NLI rules prohibit an athlete from signing more than one per calendar year. Instead, Ashton-Langford signed a grant-in-aid package with Providence. Brewster Academy head coach Jason Smith tweeted that Ashton-Langford signed his scholarship paperwork on Wednesday making his commitment to Providence official.
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.