Ed Cooley

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

PHOTO: Baylor shows off new uniforms

Scott Drew
Associated Press
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Wednesday afternoon the Baylor basketball program sent out some images of its uniform combinations for the upcoming season, and the volt color way that first made a splash in 2012 is back. Baylor’s got four different uniforms it can wear this season: home (white), away (green) and two alternate uniforms.

While there is some volt green in each of the four uniforms, its presence is relatively tame compared to the uniforms Scott Drew’s program wore back in 2012. Of course those uniforms were part of adidas’ AdiZero uniform release (Baylor is now outfitted by Nike), with two other schools (Cincinnati and Louisville) wearing colorful uniforms with shorts that had “interesting” patterns on them.

While some of the new uniform designs in college sports have received some pushback from fans and alums, this stuff is about the players and recruits programs look to land for the future. Everyone likes free stuff, and when it comes to apparel for young athletes having something that’s both free and “exclusive” is seen as a positive.

Pressure is on new coach Steve Prohm at Iowa State

Steve Prohm
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AMES, Iowa (AP) Five months ago, Iowa State’s Steve Prohm was the coach at mid-major Murray State. Now he’s in charge of one of the big favorites in the Big 12.

Prohm officially began his first season in charge of the Cyclones on Tuesday with the team’s annual media day.

Iowa State has all the pieces to make a run at the league title and more – provided that Prohm can handle coaching college basketball at the highest level, of course.

In the minds of Prohm’s players, the Cyclones have nothing to worry about.

“Coach (Prohm) is in here earning our trust and our respect every day,” said senior forward Georges Niang. “Even though he’s not trying to cross any of our toes, he puts his foot down when he needs to and lets us know that stuff needs to get done. I think he has a great combination of how to keep us motivated…and still be stern and be able to get the most out of us.”

Fred Hoiberg’s departure for the Chicago Bulls after five mostly successful seasons gave Prohm a shot at a national title. The roster Hoiberg left behind for Prohm is loaded.

Niang, a likely preseason first-team All-American, second-team All-Big 12 point guard Monte Morris and league defensive player of the year Jameel McKay headline one of the nation’s most talented starting units. Throw in veterans like Naz Long, Matt Thomas, Abdel Nader and transfer Deonte Burton, and Prohm might just have the best roster a new Power Five coach has inherited since Bill Guthridge took over for Dean Smith at North Carolina in 1997.

Guthridge reached the Final Four with his first team.

Prohm isn’t shying away from the notion that Iowa State is among the handful of teams with serious national title aspirations.

“Yeah, they’re realistic,” Prohm said when asked about the sky-high expectations for this year’s team. “I think we have the opportunity to have a very special season.”

The similarities between what type of styles Prohm and Hoiberg use was cited as a big reason why Iowa State hired him. Hoiberg even lobbied for Prohm to athletic director Jamie Pollard during the hiring process.

To that end, Prohm is going to let his players have a ton of input on how they play. Prohm doesn’t plan many changes, just tweaks that mostly involve techniques to improve Iowa State’s somewhat inconsistent rebounding and defense.

“I don’t need to say, `This is the way we’re doing things guys because this is the way I did it.’ That’s stupid,” Prohm said. “I need to meet these guys halfway.”

Prohm also acknowledged that he’ll be doing quite a bit of learning himself this season. But Prohm said he intends to embrace the unique opportunity he’s been afforded.

“This is a great situation to walk into. No question,” Prohm said. “Is there pressure? Yeah. But who wants a job with no pressure?”