Providence was supposed to have one of the best recruiting classes in the country coming in this season.
ESPN has them sixth. Rivals has them slotted at eighth. Scout has the Friars all the way down at tenth, which is the lowest you’ll find them situated. Theoretically speaking, this should be the kind of talent influx that helps Ed Cooley turn Providence into a team that finishes in the top half of what will eventually be a watered down Big East and competes annually for NCAA tournament berths.
Unfortunately, things aren’t exactly going at planned.
It started with Kris Dunn, who injured his shoulder bad enough back in July that he was forced to undergo surgery will likely end up keeping him out of the lineup until December or January and could force him to miss the season. Dunn was a top 25 recruit and considered by many to be the best point guard recruit in the country.
Cooley’s other elite recruit, Ricky Ledo, is currently sitting square in the crosshairs of the NCAA. They recently took a visit to see a childhood friend of Ledo’s and his father, who happens to be a Providence booster. And, apparently, the NCAA is more concerned with Ledo’s academic eligibility than an amateurism issue. He bounced around a number of high schools and prep schools. Should I mention that Ledo has been described to me as a “program killer” as well?
And if that wasn’t bad enough, Ian Baker, a three-star point guard recruit that is recovering from an ACL he tore during a pickup game, has decided not to enroll at Providence because it was taking too long to hear from the NCAA.
The good news is this: Providence’s future is still quite bright. Bryce Cotton and Vincent Council both return. If Dunn sits out the season, he’ll become eligible at the same time as NC State transfer Tyler Harris and Wake Forest transfer Carson Derosiers. Josh Fortune is still enrolling this year,
Kiwi Gardner — who may end up being one of the most exciting players in the country — will be eligible, (UPDATE: Turns out that Gardner is no longer with the program) and former Arizona big man and top 100 recruit Sidiki Johnson will be eligible in December. Throw in younger guys already on the roster like LaDontae Henton and Kadeem Betts, and Cooley will have some pieces to work with.
It’s just that Providence’s peak may come a year or two later than we expected.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.