As predicted by several national analysts, Bryce Hopkins is taking his talents to the Bluegrass State once more, spurning Providence and a few others for the Kentucky Wildcats.
Kudos to Ed Cooley and staff for going up against some big time programs and hanging in this until the end. While the end result isn’t what Friar fans want, being at the final table with the likes of Kentucky is a positive sign in and of itself. Make a run in March, and we may start winning these battles.
I understand the appeal of Kentucky. They have a plethora of players doing well in the NBA and have an excellent brand. With that said, the Kentucky squad is loaded with players at the 3/4 position. What is unique about their squad is that it isn’t solely composed of one-and-done talents. Hopkins may not see immediate playing time and will have to remain patient. This is why it is imperative for Cooley to maintain that relationship with Hopkins and staff should Hopkins look for a change in scenery after a year or two at Kentucky.
(Tyler Herro one of several Kentucky products who made a statement in NBA Bubble)
Where do the Friars go from here?
Lost in the hoopla of the Hopkins recruitment is the fact that Providence is still in the final pairing for a high level talent in Rafael Castro. They are in the final 3 pairing with Miami and Dayton. While not a top 40 recruit like Hopkins, Castro is a nationally relevant recruit that would be an absolute huge win for the Friars.
I’ll put my tin foil hat on here for a second, but it is rather interesting that Castro’s recruitment has gone radiosilent in coming weeks when it was thought that he may make a decision a few weeks ago. Could Castro be waiting on the Hopkins decision before making his choice? This would be a heck of a consolation prize should they miss on a Hopkins.
If Castro decides to go elsewhere beyond Providence, the NCAA ruling of giving all winter athletes a “free” year of eligibility makes for an interesting next 12 months. Prior to this ruling, Watson and Horchler were both out of eligibility. Does either player return after this season? Do both? Those things are still very much up in the air and likely haven’t been decided, but the dire need for frontcourt players as of a few weeks ago isn’t as urgent as it once was (even if only one of the aforementioned players return).
Additionally, LaSalle big man transfer Ed Croswell was intending on sitting out this year. Does Cooley try to get him a waiver to play two years? It wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.
Finally, let’s not forget that Kuluel Mading and Jonas Aidoo are still firmly on the radar for the Friars. Both recruitments have seemed to stall out for differing reasons. Aidoo has received a slew of new offers that will make landing him much more difficult, while Mading seems to have slowed the recruitment process entirely. Once thought to be a leader in the recruitment of Aidoo, I wonder if Providence is waiting on other decisions before making a final push for him.
In summary, there are so many moving pieces here. In an ideal world, we lessen the blow of losing Hopkins by landing Castro and then make a huge push on landing Aidoo. A class of Aidoo, Geeter, and Castro would solidify the front court for years to come.
As always, we’ll keep you updated on how things are progressing on the recruiting front.