The optimism’s grown in Providence since Ed Cooley returned to his hometown to take over the Providence basketball program. And there’s even more room for positive thoughts, as 7-2 center Paschal Chukwu committed to attend the Big East school via Twitter on Thursday.
Chukwu, who attends Fairfield Prep (Conn.) and played for the Connecticut Basketball Club this summer, joins wing Jalen Lindsey as commitments in Providence’s 2014 class (both are ranked in the Top 100 of many of the major scouting services). The hope amongst the Friar faithful is that those two aren’t it, as Expressions Elite (Mass.) teammates Abdul-Malik Abu and Jared Terrell will announce their college choices on September 7.
Both players cut their respective college lists to four earlier this month, with Providence being the lone school being considered by Abu and Terrell. The other three finalists for Abu’s services are UConn, Florida and N.C. State, with Cincinnati, Oklahoma State and Rhode Island being the other three schools on Terrell’s list. How likely is it that Abu and Terrell will decide to attend the same school? That remains to be seen, but the fact that Providence remains in the discussion is another sign that Cooley and his staff have things headed in the right direction.
As for Chukwu, he’s an important addition to the front court considering Providence’s current rotation. Kadeem Batts, who was the Big East’s Co-Most Improved Player last season (shared with Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams), and Lee Goldsbrough are seniors and Wake Forest transfer Carson Desrosiers will be a junior in 2013-14. Also in the junior class are returnees LaDontae Henton and Brice Kofane, with N.C. State transfer Tyler Harris (sophomore) and freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock being the underclassmen.
With Desrosiers having just one more season of eligibility after the 2013-14 campaign the Friars needed to add some size in the 2014 class. Landing a verbal commitment from Chukwu, one of the best shot blockers in his class, accomplishes that goal.
When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.
LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.
Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).
All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.
The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.
Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.