For a fan base starving for good news on the recruiting front, the Friar fans have certainly been fed this week. On Monday, PC secured a pledge from 4-star guard out of NJ and Long Island Lutheran in Jayden Pierre.
The Friars finished off the week adding 7-foot 260 lb big man Christ Essandoko via his commitment today. The Friars three-man class of 2022 should provide the team with impactful pieces for a few years to come. Quante Berry was the first to pledge to PC, you can check out our write up on him here.
Berry is a combo guard that can pick his spots scoring the ball whether it be from the three-point arc or mid-range. He also is adept at attacking the basket. The Pierre commitment is so massive because they complement each other so well in the backcourt. College basketball is turning into a playing style where you need almost every single player on the court to create scoring opportunities on their own. Having two guards that can do this will help remedy the traditional offensive issues associated with Cooley’s Friar teams.
Pierre is more of a lead guard that has a strong handle, is quick in transition and can also score similar to Berry. Pierre also is a very active defender. What also stood out about Pierre’s game is the tenacity in which he plays. ESPN’s Adam Finklestein says the fact that Pierre is a gamer is one of his best traits.
When comparing Jayden Pierre’s game, I see a familiar foe. Watching Pierre’s tape reminds me a lot of Butler’s Kamar Baldwin. Baldwin was a bit more of a combo guard at Butler but in terms of his ball handling skills and ability to attack a defender off the dribble and finish at the rim is similar to Pierre. Baldwin would turn out to be an all-conference player so it may seem as a lofty comparison, but their games are strikingly similar.
The last thing to mention is that Pierre plays for the same AAU Team, Team Rio, that current Friar Rafael Castro played for. Coached by Mike Rice, it would be great to build a pipeline with this New Jersey based AAU program. It is clearly producing high level talent.
As mentioned earlier, Christ Essandoko is a true big man. At 7-feet and 260 lbs, Essandoko is a load to handle in the paint. He already has developed solid post moves and may be a better passer than what originally meets the eye. He’s a player that should come in and be able to impact the game with his rim protection and rebounding skills.
A comp for Essandoko is Purdue’s Trevion Williams. Again, this may be an aspirational-type comparison, but Williams arrived at Purdue with a similar frame to Essandoko. To Williams credit, he shed weight and transformed himself into one of the best big men in the country. I think with time Essandoko can have a similar trajectory.
Importance of this Class
There were lofty expectations for the 2022 class. Prior to the commitments of Pierre and Essandoko, it appeared that this class was going to follow the recent trend of previous classes by missing out on their Plan A targets. The fanbase was understandably frustrated given the recruiting misses of players such as Epps and Wessler. The end result may not have been as smooth as Friar fans would have liked (when is that ever the case?), but this 2022 class has the makings to be the next foundational type class for years to come. While this class doesn’t boast a plethora of 4 star talents like a Duke and Reeves class, this class will end up being a fantastic building block group for the Friars. It would appear PC now has positioned itself to have a backcourt of the future and a big that can replace some of the minutes that are walking out the door after this year (Watson and Horchler).
The 2022 class needed to land impact players because it is losing so much after this year, and these three players certainly seem capable of stepping in and playing at the Big East level.
From the Crier’s perspective I think Cooley is now done with the 2022 high school recruiting class. Any scholarships left will likely be held for an impact player via the transfer portal. Now, as a fan base we can focus on this upcoming season and that’s something I’m truly excited about.