Throughout his tenure at Providence, head coach Ed Cooley has dealt with hits to his team’s depth and unfortunately for him that will once again be the case in 2014-15.
Days after reports that he’d suffered a knee injury, redshirt freshman Rodney Bullock has been declared out for the entire 2014-15 season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee according to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal. Bullock’s college debut will have to wait for another season, as he was suspended for the entire 2013-14 campaign after being investigated (but not charged) for sexual assault.
The 6-foot-7 Bullock is a talented player who was capable of helping the Friars account for the graduation of starter Kadeem Batts in the front court. Returnees such as seniors Carson Desrosiers and LaDontae Henton and junior Tyler Harris will obviously be factors, as will freshmen Jalen Lindsey, Paschal Chukwu and Ben Bentil.
However it should be noted that Bentil, who is practicing with the team, has yet to be cleared for competition. Losing Bullock adds even greater importance to the NCAA’s decision on Bentil, with the school according to McNamara’s report confident that he’ll be cleared to play.
Cooley’s navigated personnel issues throughout his tenure, molding the program into one that won the Big East tournament title and earned its first NCAA tournament bid in a decade last March. With one of the players expected to compete for minutes now sidelined for the season, Cooley’s Friars will once again have to adjust.
Providence redshirt freshman forward Rodney Bullock arrived on campus last summer as one member of a talented freshman class reeled in by head coach Ed Cooley. However the Virginia native did not take the court for the Friars last season, as he was suspended for the entire season after being involved in an investigation for an on-campus sexual assault along with former teammate Brandon Austin. No charges would be filed in relation to the incident.
In 2014-15 Bullock is expected to compete for playing time as the reigning Big East tournament champions account for the loss of key contributors Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts. Unfortunately for Bullock, the process of earning minutes has been derailed due to a knee injury. According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, Cooley is unsure of how long he’ll be without the 6-foot-7 Bullock.
“The news isn’t good but we’re trying to get through a couple more tests and see what happens,” Cooley said. “We’re evaluating to see just how bad it is.”
Asked if he knows if Bullock could be lost for the upcoming season, Cooley said “no, not yet.”
Providence lost Batts but they return other key front court contributors from that team, including seniors LaDontae Henton and Carson Desrosiers and junior Tyler Harris. Freshmen Ben Bentil (who has yet to be cleared for games) and Paschal Chukwu (6-foot-7 Jalen Lindsey is listed as a guard but will factor into the wing rotation) are also expected to help the Friars in 2014-15.
Depth won’t be as much of an issue for Providence as it had been in the years (under Cooley) leading up to last season’s NCAA tournament appearance, but Bullock is a talented player who can help them. Bullock averaged 21.4 points and 16.0 rebounds per game as a high school senior in 2012-13.
Prior to the start of the 2013-14 season, newcomers Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock were expected to compete for playing time as freshmen at Providence. However the two players were alleged to have sexually assaulted a female student in November, with a school disciplinary board ruling that Austin and Bullock would be prohibited from playing for Ed Cooley at all in 2013-14. With the school coming to that conclusion there was still the issue of whether or not a Rhode Island grand jury would indict them on charges of sexual assault.
Wednesday afternoon it was reported by the Providence Journal that the grand jury has declined to indict the two, citing insufficient evidence as the reason for the decision.
“The investigation into allegations of sexual assault by Rodney Bullock and Brandon Austin has concluded,” the office of Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said in a statement according to the Journal. “The allegations concerned an incident which allegedly occurred on November 3, 2013, in Providence.
“The investigation was presented to a Statewide Grand Jury. The Grand Jury determined there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges against Rodney Bullock. After presentation of the evidence to the Grand Jury with respect to Brandon Austin, it was determined there was legally insufficient evidence to ask the Grand Jury to consider charges against Austin.
“The Office of Attorney General cannot release further details surrounding the Grand Jury as disclosure is prohibited by law.”
The two players chose different paths in the aftermath of their suspension, with Austin transferring to Oregon and Bullock remaining at Providence. And while the remainder of the season was relatively quiet for the suspended Bullock the same can’t be said for Austin, who was investigated for another sexual assault at Oregon.
Austin, Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis weren’t charged in the case, but all three were dismissed from the program and subsequently banned from the Oregon campus for up to ten years. It remains to be seen where the three players wind up, with Artis and Dotson still looking for schools and Austin not headed to Hutchinson (Kansas) CC despite reports earlier this month that he would be joining the program.
Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock are being investigated by Providence police for an alleged sexual assault of a student, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday night.
Austin and Bullock were both suspended on November 6th for what head coach Ed Cooley said at the time was a result of the two freshmen “not upholding their responsibilities as student-athletes.” In December, the school announced that the suspensions would be for the entire season. Bullock is still a member of the team, but Austin transferred out of the program over winter break and has since enrolled at Oregon. He’s eligible to play this December.
The report states that the alleged victim approached the Providence police department “a couple of weeks ago”, but that the incident itself occurred in November before the basketball season had started. It also states that the victim, who knew the players, went to campus police immediately after the alleged assault occurred.
Austin was unable to be reached for comment, but Bullock’s attorney told the Journal that the school carried out an investigation by a former Rhode Island state police officer, and that the police have not spoked to his client.
Austin, a 6-foot-7 point guard, was a top 50 recruit in the Class of 2013. Bullock was a top 150 recruit.
Just two days before Christmas, Providence College announced that freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock, who were suspended prior to the start of the season, would remain suspended for the remainder of the season due to a violation of the school’s Code of Conduct. With that ruling being handed down, the two freshmen had a decision to make: either remain in school (they would be allowed to work out with the team) or transfer to another institution.
According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, Austin has decided to transfer. A highly regarded perimeter prospect from Philadelphia, Austin was expected to be an immediate contributor for Ed Cooley’s Friars. And with Kris Dunn out for the season due to a shoulder injury, Austin would have been of even greater help to a rotation that has relied heavily on senior Bryce Cotton thus far.
“We wish Brandon success with his basketball career and with his academic future,” Cooley said in the school release announcing Austin’s departure.
McNamara’s story also mentioned a couple possible destinations for the 6-foot-6 guard:
Word from several Philadelphia basketball sources is that Austin’s advisors were calling other schools early last month as PC’s administration weighed its decision. Penn State, Oregon and Temple are a few of the schools being mentioned as potential landing spots.
Austin was originally gave a verbal commitment to Penn State in February 2012, only to change his mind five months later. Bullock has remained with the team and is working out in hopes of being ruled eligible to play next season.
A promising season for Providence has gotten off to a bad start.
A couple of days after Kris Dunn reinjured the shoulder that slowed him as a freshman, head coach Ed Cooley announced that two of his freshman, Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock, will be suspended indefinitely.
“We hold our student-athletes to very high standards,” Cooley said in a statement released by the school. “We are disappointed in some of the choices that Brandon and Rodney have made. Due to this, we have decided to suspend them indefinitely from any game action.”
The Friars open their season on Friday night against fellow New England up-and-coming program Boston College.
Bullock is a 6-foot-6 power forward from Hampton that was ranked No. 148 by Rivals in the Class of 2013. Austin is a much more highly-regarded recruit, however. A 6-foot-7 lead guard, Austin is a freak athlete that was expected to join Dunn and Bryce Cotton in giving PC one of the most talented back courts in the new-look Big East.