Ed Cooley

Brandon Austin tweets he’s committed to Providence

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Ed Cooley has locked up a good one.

Brandon Austin, a 6-6, 170-pound wing out of Philadelphia, committed to Providence, per a series of tweets from his Twitter account.

“For College I Will Be Attending…….PROVIDENCE COLLEGE!!!” Austin tweeted.

Austin is a good get for Cooley, who is in the process of rebuilding the Friars. Austin is the no. 39 player in the nation according to Scout.com and the no. 10 small forward in the class. He picked Providence over UConn, Texas and Georgetown, among others. He joins Rodney Bullock in the Friars’ 2013 recruiting class.

Cooley will have a solid nucleus coming back next season and Austin just makes it better. The Friars already bagged two top-tier recruits on their roster with Kris Dunn and Ricardo Ledo. Not to mention, the top three scorers this season are juniors (Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts) and a sophomore (LaDontae Hinton). If Cooley can get even two to come back, the program will be one that could compete in the Big East next season with the departure of Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
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Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.