Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Could this be the season the Providence Friars end their ten-year NCAA Tournament drought? Ed Cooley brings in some talented newcomers to complement his three top scorers from last year as PC looks to make some noise in the revamped Big East.
Last Season: T-9th, 9-9 in Big East, 19-15 overall
Predicted Big East Finish: 6th
Projected Depth Chart
C: Kadeem Batts (Sr)/Carson Desrosiers (Jr)
F: Tyler Harris (So)/Brice Kofane (Jr)/Lee Goldsbrough (Sr)
SF: LaDonate Henton (Jr)/Brandon Austin (Fr)/Rodney Bullock (Fr)
SG: Bryce Cotton (Jr)/Josh Fortune (So)
PG: Kris Dunn (So)
Gone: PG-Vincent Council, G/F-Ricky Ledo, F/C-Sidiki Johnson (transfer-Wabash Community College)
The Friars return the Big East’s leading scorer from last year in Bryce Cotton. The talented combo guard is a dynamic scorer whether creating his own shots or launching triples from downtown. Cotton will be joined in the starting backcourt by Kris Dunn. The 6-3 sophomore missed the first nine games of last season due to a shoulder injury and was never really able to hit full stride. With that behind him, Dunn could be headed for a breakout season and might emerge as one of the best all-around guards in the conference.
There is not a whole lot of depth at guard though. Josh Fortune returns and should once again be a valuable reserve. Freshman Brandon Austin can play either the two or three and should factor into the mix right away. With no true backup for Dunn, expect to see more of Cotton playing the point as well.
The very productive frontcourt duo of Kadeem Batts and LaDontae Henton returns. Combined that tandem averaged nearly 28 points and 16 rebounds per game with Batts having a breakout junior campaign by more than doubling his scoring and providing Providence with a low post option. I really like Henton who is ferocious on the glass but can also step out and knock down jumpers.
The addition of N.C. State transfer Tyler Harris adds more versatility to the frontcourt and he could be a valuable glue guy due to his ability to guard different positions and stretch defenses with his outside shooting. Another transfer, former Wake Forest Carson Desrosiers is a seven-footer who should add physicality off the bench along with upperclassmen Brice Kofane and Lee Goldsbrough. Freshman Rodney Bullock will probably be the odd man out of the rotation.
With an already impressive trio of 2014 recruits committed, Ed Cooley appears to finally have this Providence Friars program turning the corner and on the verge of becoming a NCAA Tournament team. A top five finish in the Big East is an achievable goal this year and would snap the decade long skid.
Player to Watch: Kris Dunn, PG
Dunn and Ricky “Hey, Thanks for Coming” Ledo headlined a major 2012 recruiting class for Cooley. While Ledo never played a minute in a Friar jersey, Dunn replaces Vincent Council at the point. The 6-3 playmaker is at his best when attacking the basket but also is a terrific distributor and rebounds extremely well for his position. His impact could be the x-factor for Providence’s tourney hopes.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/8 vs. Boston College
11/22 vs. Vanderbilt (Paradise Jam)
11/23 vs. La Salle/Morgan State (Paradise Jam)
11/24 vs. Maryland/Marist/Northern Iowa/Loyola Marymount (Paradise Jam)
12/1 vs. Kentucky (in Brooklyn)
12/5 at Rhode Island
12/28 at UMass
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#52 Boston College
#53 Ole Miss
#56 Saint Mary’s
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#64 Florida State
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#70 Miami FL
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks