The Friars initially struck out on the recruiting trail for the Class of 2020 and have had the same results thus far for the Class of 2021. For the Class of 2020, Jyare Davis and Alyn Breed could very well make us eat our words, but they ended up with these guys after missing on several higher rated prospects. So far for 2021 they’ve seen Bobby Pettiford and Gabe Wiznitzer choose Louisville (Eric Van Der Heijden may join them), Gianni Thompson pick local competitor BC, and most recently Bensley Joseph to the U. I’m not going to sit here and say I have all the answers to why we are in this recruiting slump, but I have a theory on a contributing factor.
Last May all of Friartown waited on baited breath (once accidentally said the phrase as “Baby’s Breath”) as Ed Cooley interviewed for the University of Michigan Job. Luckily on May 21st, 2019 Cooley announced he would return to PC, with a contract extension to boot. Ed Cooley and Bob Driscoll had their rah rah interview on Fox Sports about the commitment the school has to Ed and his program.
While that was all great and dandy, did we ever stop to think what the outside perception would be of the interview? When PC fired Keno Davis George Mason coach and former Friar Jim Larrañaga was probably their first choice. He spurned the Friars saying it was tough, but he planned on being at George Mason forever. Three years later he left for Miami. Most recently Chris Mack brought his alma mater Xavier to the Elite 8 and was in consideration for the Ohio State vacancy, filled by Butler’s Chris Holtmann. Mack signed a extension with X only to leave for Louisville a year later.
You are foolish if you don’t think in some capacity the interview with Michigan has been a contributing factor, even if not that big of a factor, to the lack of results on the recruiting trail. I get that teams use negative recruiting tactics all the time but a lot of times the recruits don’t listen to it. If you look back on history of the coaching carousel, one could easily believe that PC isn’t Cooley’s final destination.
I certainly don’t believe that to be the case. Providence is continuing to trend upwards, Cooley gets paid very well, and essentially has carte blance at PC. On top of that I don’t know how much longer Cooley will be in the game, as he mentioned quarantine life has made him think about retirement on Jon Rothstein’s podcast. My guess would be he coaches for about 10-ish more seasons at PC before hanging them up. That still isn’t going to stop opposing staffs to chirp in a recruit’s year about him potentially leaving earlier.
To be clear, this is just a theory of mine, and I believe there are bigger factors. Roster composition could certainly be one, as PC currently has 10 sophomores and juniors on the current squad. Playing time is always a factor and currently it isn’t as big of a given as years past. With Cooley continuing to add players via the transfer market, Cooley has guys with a lot of eligibility left that are veterans to college basketball. Also, being robbed of finally making a tournament run due to COVID doesn’t help either. My argument is Cooley’s dalliance with Michigan is something to consider as a possibility for the Friars striking out on the high school recruiting trail.
For those wondering BOC is totally against this take and has his reasons that he may or may not share with you down the line (BOC edit – think it has to do with assistants and nobody solely recruiting what should be the hot spots for PC). Regardless of the reason, it will be interesting to see what Cooley and staff do with these open scholarships down the line with either this current class or the class of 2022.
I think we can all agree that something needs to change in Friartown because the results over the past two years haven’t been pretty.