Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Let’s face it, Providence is not the easiest job in the Big East.
In fact, it’s one of the hardest.
It’s a small Catholic school with no football program to draw recruits on Saturdays and a limited recruiting base.
Last year, the Friars finished 15-17 overall, 4-14 in the Big East.
The year before, they ended 12-19, 4-14 in the league.
But there is some tradition. The Friars made the Final Four in 1987, the Elite Eight in 1997 and have appeared in 15 NCAA Tournaments.
And there are some quality pieces already on the current roster, including guards Gerard Coleman and Vincent Council, and forwards Kadeem Batts and Bilal Dixon.
Kansas freshman Naadir Tharpe originally committed to Providence. And Pitt freshman forward Khem Birch, a McDonald’s All-American, likely would’ve come to Providence had former assistant Pat Skerry stayed on.
Now new coach Ed Cooley is looking to write a new chapter.
And he took a step in the right direction Wednesday by landing a verbal pledge from 6-foot-3 point guard Kris Dunn of New London (Conn.) High.
“Providence is a special place for me,” Dunn told ESPN.com. “I have a great connection with the coaches but most importantly with [coach Cooley]. He made my family and I feel at home and like we were wanted.”
Cooley, who recruited Dunn when the coach was at Fairfield, shadowed Dunn for much of the summer and ultimately got the commitment over schools like Georgetown and Louisville.
“I think [Cooley] is a great man who will show me how to become a better player,” Dunn told ESPN.com. “I can’t wait to play with the players and get things rolling.”
Providence could get things rolling even more should Cooley get 6-7 shooting guard Ricky Ledo to re-commit to the Friars.
A Providence native, Ledo committed on Christmas Day to then-head coach Keno Davis, only to decommit later on. His top five now includes Providence, Kentucky, UConn, Syracuse and West Virginia, but it’s not clear who’s really working hard to land him other than Providence.
He was on campus Wednesday at Providence when Dunn committed.
Asked what his future plans were, Ledo told SNY.tv by text, “I’m not sure yet.”
“Certainly if they can get a couple Top 30 or 40 kids, that’s a hell of a first-year hall,” one Division 1 coach with Big East ties told SNY.tv.
Providence now has two 2012 commits in Dunn and Hampton, Va., shooting guard Josh Fortune.
“Josh Fortune, he’s a shot-maker,” the Division 1 coach said. “Everybody needs guys that can make shots.”
But the staff isn’t done.
“We’re plugging away,” one source close to the staff told SNY.tv. “We got a movement going here. There are too many kids in our general vicinity not to pay attention to them. There’s more talent in New England now than ever.”
Indeed, in the short time Cooley’s staff — which includes associate head coach Andre LaFleur, a member of UConn’s 2011 national championship staff — has been on the job, the Friars have hosted a slew of talented players.
2012 forward Zach Auguste of New Hampton (N.H.), 2012 forward Jake Layman of Wrentham (Mass.) King Philip, 2014 guard Wayne Selden of The Tilton (N.H.) School and 2014 forward Noah Vonleh of New Hampton have all been on campus. (Layman recently cut his list to five, excluding Providence).
“Every big-time, highly ranked player in the New England area has been on our campus at some point,” the source said.
If the Friars can continue to reel those players in and create a buzz, Cooley could get something interesting going.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.