Ed Cooley: ‘We want to recruit the best players in the country’

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The Providence Friars have been a cellar-dweller, a punching bag and any other synonym you can think of to describe the program’s struggles since its last NCAA tournament in appearance in 2004.

With head coach Ed Cooley settling in for his third season in his native Providence, the Friars are on the rise. That was apparent when he landed a stellar backcourt in 2012 of Kris Dunn and Ricky Ledo. That dream of that guard tandem never became a reality due to Dunn’s shoulder injury, and Ledo unable to suit up all season.

The success of the 2012 class is something Cooley is starting to replicate.

“We want to recruit the best players in the country,” Cooley told SNY.tv. “Everybody always says a lot of negative things about the brand of Providence. Whether that’s in the past or whatever, I don’t look at that. I want the best players in the country to to play in the best league in the country.”

The soundbite Cooley provided early this week isn’t something to laugh off. Cooley showed he can recruit with the best by landing Dunn and Ledo one year ago. Joining the new Big East didn’t stop him from recently landing top-50 small forward Jalen Lindsey, either. If Cooley has his way, that will be the first piece in a heralded incoming class.

The PC coaching staff is doing its best provide Lindsey with some company, for instance, being present the past two weekends for nearly every one of Paschal Chukwu’s games — a 7-foot-1 center, who is entering his senior year at Fairfield Prep (Conn.). Chukwu isn’t the only New England product Cooley is actively pursuing.

It isn’t just the high school recruits making their way to Rhode Island. Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris join the program next season after transferring in. Next season, he’ll have a solid core of returners — Dunn, Bryce Cotton, Kadeem Batts — to go along with the two transfers and incoming wing Brandon Austin.

Cooley, without Ledo’s services and with plenty of injuries, got the Friars one game away from 20 wins, and now he’s got the Friars on the list of numerous top prospects. There is optimism in Providence, 2014 will only add to that with every recruit Cooley gets a commitment from. It’s been an impressive turnaround, so far … one that fans should be taking notice of.

“But what I’m excited about is we’re coming together as a program,” Cooley told SNY. “Our guys believe in what we’re trying to do.”

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest Rivals.com national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)

Five-star 2018 point guard Darius Garland cuts list to six schools

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Five-star Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland revealed the final six schools that he’s considering on Friday.

The N0. 12 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-0 Garland is one of the top floor generals in the nation as he is still considering Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

A native of Nashville, Garland is a potentially elite perimeter threat at the college level as he’s one of the more deadly three-point marksmen in the nation.

Garland spent this spring and summer playing with Bradley Beal Elite in the Nike EYBL as he averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the league this spring.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s John Calipari participates in the #DriveByDunkChallenge

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The #DriveByDunkChallenge is sweeping the nation on social media this summer.

Rules to participate are pretty simple:

  1. Drive around in your vehicle.
  2. Find a basketball hoop (or a basketball ring if you’re Ted Cruz) on a random driveway.
  3. Run out of your car and dunk on that random hoop while a friend films.
  4. Run back to your car and drive away.

Let Anthony Davis show you how it works:

Pretty simple, right?

The #DriveByDunkChallenge isn’t raising money or awareness for ALS like the #IceBucketChallenge did three years ago, but it’s something harmless and fun to do to pass the time during the dog days of summer.

Sensing an opportunity to join an Internet craze, while also following in the footsteps of his former player Kentucky star, Wildcats head coach John Calipari got involved with his own dunk late Friday night.

And his video is much funnier than I thought it would be.

While most #DriveByDunkChallenge videos are done by healthy and spry teenagers who are cruising neighborhoods during the day, Calipari, and his hip replacement, got in on the fun with a late-night dunk.

I love that Calipari ditched the ball behind his back while running back to the car after the dunk.

Most people who participate in the challenge usually have their own ball and keep it with them through completion. But Calipari either picked up a random ball in the driveway or just he lost the handle with his own ball and had a turnover.

The next time Calipari goes hard on one of his point guards for losing control and playing too fast, remember this moment.

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

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Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

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Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.