Over the weekend, Gianni Thompson committed to the Boston College Eagles over a handful of other schools, including Providence. This was a bit of a surprise, but it makes sense on several levels:
⁃ Loyalty Being Rewarded: BC has been recruiting Thompson longer than almost all the other schools in his final grouping. They were one of the first high majors to offer, and their consistency and effort throughout his recruitment paid off.
⁃ Proximity to Home: His high school and AAU program are in close proximity to BC’s campus. In the COVID era where on-campus visits and travel in general are extraordinarily difficult, many recruits are committing to their local schools that they have seen in the past and are comfortable with. BC checks all of those boxes.
⁃ Mass Rivals Connection – BC has astutely targeted the Mass Rivals AAU program, and it appears to have paid off here. Along with Thompson, BC has three players from Mass Rivals on their roster: the Langford brothers (Makai transferred to BC after playing for PC, Demarr is the younger brother of Makai, and big man Justin Van Der Baan). Thompson’s familiarity with many of the players on the team had to have helped
⁃ Path to Playing time – Gianni will likely see the court in his freshman year at BC. You can’t definitively say that if he came to PC. Early playing time was likely a factor.
When you look at all of those factors, it isn’t too much of a surprise that Thompson decided on the Eagles.
Impact to Providence
In looking at this from the lens of the Providence program, losing Thompson doesn’t hurt too much, but the optics of PC losing a “local” recruit aren’t great.
If you were to look at the composition of the Providence roster, you would say the strengths are probably in the 3/4 position, which is where Gianni would presumably slot in. Reeves, Gantt, Davis, Nichols, Monroe all have eligibility after this year, so a path to playing time for Thompson probably doesn’t seem that clear until he is an upperclassmen.
Where this hurts is that PC seems to have prioritized him in this class, and PC doesn’t often lose out on “local” recruits. I’m fine with losing a recruiting battle of a kid residing in ACC country to a blue blood like Louisville, but losing out on a New England kid to a basement dweller in the ACC like Boston College stings.
Cooley and staff have had a really rough go of things over the past two years when it comes to landing priority high school recruits, with Gantt being the last one. They need to hit on a top prospect sooner rather than later to change the perception and stop the bleeding. Cooley has hit his mark on transfers, but I think a lot of fans would love to see us win some recruiting battles at the high school/prep level, rather than being so reliant on transfers.
The Crier: If I may just jump in for a moment. Thompson wasn’t my favorite recruit that we have pursued this year so I’m not super bummed about it. I will say that we haven’t missed out on a guy we recruited heavily that is local in some time. If there is a good local player that wants to play close to home and PC has recruited them heavily, we have usually won out. Makai-Ashton Langford originally committed to UConn but wound up at PC (ironically now at BC). We did miss out on Akok Akok but with him re-classing and now going into his third-year coming off a torn achilles, that one doesn’t seem to hurt that much. However, now that UConn is in the Big East and BC just won a local recruiting battle, these targets aren’t going to be as much of a layup as they once were. Ultimately recruiting incoming freshman to play is never going to get easy until we start winning some NCAA Tournament games. That is what builds the brand. Despite having a team this past season that could go far in the NCAA Tournament, the COVID pandemic netted us with 0 postseason wins. That is why this upcoming season is so important, and I believe we have another team that can make a run.
Who is Next?
PC is in a good position for a handful of recruits that would play a similar position as Thompson. I’m following the recruitments of EVDH, Mading, and Geeter even more closely now, as they all have PC offers. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see PC pull the trigger in an offer to Putnam Science player Sean Durugordon.
Mading is more of a Stretch 4/Small Ball 5, but we can group in here. We haven’t heard much on his recruitment, but the North Carolina native would be a great add to this roster. It’d likely also help us with NC wing Lucas Taylor.
With Geeter being from Michigan, Friar fans need to hope that MSU and UM don’t offer and fill up on the 2021 class. If either school offers, he likely commits to them. I’d like to see Cooley put the press on him and land him.
Eric Van Der Heijden is more of a mystery. He is from North Carolina, but has put us in his Top 10. I don’t feel all that great about this recruitment, but I’ve been wrong before and would gladly be wrong again. You can never have enough 6’9 3 point shooters.
My expectation is that Cooley and Staff expand their recruiting board a bit for this position, as I don’t know if they feel like they are in the driver’s seat for any of these three.