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.
Providence’s Cooley: ‘We want to recruit the best players in the country’
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Providence coach Ed Cooley sat courtside for much of last week’s Nike Global Challenge.
The Friars head man was keeping an eye on recent commit Jalen Lindsey, as well as players he hopes ultimately become Friars, such as 2014 forward Abdul Malik Abu.
“We want to recruit the best players in the country,” Cooley, speaking generally because he cannot comment on specific players, told SNY.tv.
“Everybody always says a lot of negative things about the brand of Providence. Whether that’s in the past or whatever, I don’t look at that. I want the best players in the country to to play in the best league in the country.”
Providence beat out Tennessee, Memphis and Mississippi State for the 6-foot-7 Lindsey, and Cooley has worked especially hard on Abu, who is playing the month of July while fasting for Ramadan. The Providence staff hasn’t missed one of his games in two years, and is expected to be at the “Live in AC” event this week to watch his Expressions Elite team.
As for his current team, Cooley lost Vincent Council and Ricky Ledo, who never actually played a game for the Friars, but brings in freshman guard Brandon Austin, as well as transfers Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers.
“Losing Vince, who was a natural playmaker, we’re going to miss the natural playmaking ability that he possesses,” Cooley said. “Ricky never played for us, so don’t know what he would’ve done in a game. He would’ve been a great scorer.
“But what I’m excited about is we’re coming together as a program. Our guys believe in what we’re trying to do.”
Cooley will now use sophomore Kris Dunn, senior Bryce Cotton and freshman Brandon Austin, he of the 91 points in a charity game, to replace Council.
“We want to always play with three ballhandlers, three decision-makers,” Cooley said.
“We won’t have a primary ballhandler, we’ll have a lot of secondary ballhandlers with the way we want to play.”
Cotton got some nice experience training with the USA World University Games team, although he didn’t make the final cut.
“I think we’re going to be really good,” Cotton, who led the Big East in scoring at 18.3 points per game, previously told SNY.tv of his Providence team. “We still have a strong core coming back and we add a couple of good transfers who sat out this previous year who are going to help contribute significantly. Time will tell soon enough come next November.”
Harris, the Long Island native who transferred from N.C. State, also got some good training this summer by attending the Kevin Durant and LeBron James Skills Academies.
“I think Tyler gives us a lot of versatility,” Cooley said. “His ability to play multiple positions makes him a tough guard. I think he’s had a really good summer.”
Desrosiers is a 7-footer who transferred from Wake Forest and has two years left.
“He gives us a very high-skilled, high-post player, back-to-the-basket presence to go along with Kadeem [Batts] on the inside,” Cooley said. “Still trying to see where our guys fit, how do they complement one another has been the toughest thing to adjust to.”
Providence finished strong last season and ended at 19-15.
This year, they enter the new Big East that no longer has Syracuse, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, among others.
“I think the league is in great hands,” Cooley said. “I love our new comissioner [Val Ackerman].
“It’s unfortunate that football has dictated so much of what’s happening in realignment. I think it’s a travesty to college athletics.
“But the American dollar has dominated college and there’s many of us who have are benefactors of it. Losing Syracuse, losing Connecticut, you gotta move on. With change there will be progress.”
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.