The Providence Friars received more good news today, as it was announced that senior forward Rodney Bullock would return to school and remove his name from the NBA Draft. The news that the Friars would return their leading scorer and rebounder from last season was first reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. The return of Bullock shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as he wasn’t featured on many draft boards and he wasn’t invited to the combine, however you never know a person’s situation and he could’ve still played professionally even if it wasn’t with the NBA. With Bullock back in the fold, the Friars returning essentially everyone (yes, the Woodring loss is devastating) and having a nationally ranked recruiting class, the Friars are primed for a big season next year. While most college basketball analysts see PC as a fringe tournament team, I see them as a top-25 caliber team next year with the talent to compete for their first ever Big East regular season title. Was PC able to take advantage of injuries of opposing Big East teams and a soft bubble to make this past year’s tournament? Probably. Did PC blow a 15 point halftime lead against USC in the First 4 game? Yes. While that may have been the case I feel people are sleeping on a team that went to the tourney last season, will return everyone and add a nationally ranked recruiting class.
The most intriguing part about the Rodney Bullock return is the timing of it. The deadline for early entries to withdraw from the NBA Draft is May 24th. This gives the prospects time after the combine to evaluate if they should return to school or commit to going pro. Although Rodney Bullock didn’t get invited to the combine he still could’ve went through the process further. I expected Bullock to take at least up until the week of the deadline to decide but now that he is returning it puts the Friars ahead of schedule. This gives the Friars three extra weeks to work with all the returning players, including Bullock. It also gives Cooley extra time to decide what to do with the last open scholarship for next year. He can either give it to walk on Tom Planek, another incoming freshman or a transfer, whether it be of the graduate or sit out variety. I had said once Bullock made his decision we will get clarity on what Cooley’s plans are with the remaining scholarship, so stay tuned Friar fans.