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.