The 2023 Recruiting Primer, Version 2: Providence Friars

The Crier released Version 1 of this article in January. Suffice to say, a lot has changed since then. Providence is fresh off landing a stellar 3 man recruiting class in 2022 and are looking to build upon the historic 2021-2022 season. After winning the Big East Conference and making a Sweet 16 run, the Providence program is in unchartered waters when it comes to national coverage. Momentum has never been better for the Providence Friars to land blue chip prospects that fit within Cooley’s culture. Cooley and Staff will look to build off this past season to land a nationally ranked recruiting class.

Below, we analyze team needs for the 2023 class, identify the key recruits Providence is targeting, and provide our predictions for who the Friars ultimately land.

Team Needs & Roster Composition

The 2022 Class landed two guards in Jayden Pierre and Quante Berry, alongside a true 5 man in Christ Essandoko. By landing Pierre and Berry, they ideally are trying to recreate the pairing of Bynum and Durham this year. Essandoko will have a year to learn under another physical 5 in Ed Croswell before being asked to contribute significantly.

As of this writing, the players we know are definitely leaving are Nate Watson, Noah Horchler, and Al Durham. AJ Reeves and Justin Minaya could return as well and have not indicated whether they are returning or leaving. Additionally, Ed Croswell stated he will be returning and likely manning the starting 5 spot. A lot is certainly going to change in the next week, but let’s presume that Minaya and Reeves both do not return for the 2022-2023 season.

Roster Projections for when the 2023 class lands on campus are as follows:

Senior: Allyn Breed, Brycen Goodine, Bynum

Junior: Mattheus Case

Sophomore: Legend Geeter, Rafael Castro, Quante Berry, Jayden Pierre, Christ Essandoko

Freshman: To be determined

Roster spots: When looking at the roster, it is clear that the 2023 class is likely going to be another 3 or 4 man class similar to 2022. We have an article identifying the needs in the 2022 transfer class where the immediate focus from our perspective is another ball handler, scoring wing, and stretch 4 that can hit the deep shot. If Reeves and Minaya somehow return, the needs in the transfer market are dwindled down to finding a replacement for Durham and Horchler.

The 2022 class did a fantastic job of securing the backcourt of the future in Pierre and Berry. I believe the 2023 class is going to focus primarily on the wing and frontcourt, with an option to add in the backcourt if a stellar prospect decides to come on board at Providence.

If I had to make my prediction today, I would envision this class being a 3 man class, with 2 of those 3 players being a “big guard/wing” type recruit and another being a stretch 4/small ball 5 recruit. That isn’t to say a 1 or 5 would be turned down, but I think the emphasis thus far has been on the 2-4 positions. Things can obviously change year over year with the transfer rules in place, but I think that is where I’d spend the most of my time if I’m Ed Cooley and Staff.

Below, we identify the recruits that have either been offered already or have been shown interest by the Friars. We excluded a few names where Providence may have offered, but there is really no recent interest or traction.

Recruits of Interest – Guard

Jaylen Curryhttps://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/jaylen-curry-256425

Curry is another Battle recruit hailing from the Tar Heel State. A 4 star point guard, Providence is in competition with Florida State, Ole Miss, and Pittsburgh. The log-jam at guard behind Pierre and Berry may pose an issue for many 2023 guard recruits. There hasn’t been a lot said about Curry, but the familiarity of PC in North Carolina may help the Friars make further inroads.

Trey Autryhttps://www.verbalcommits.com/players/trey-autry

Providence has yet to offer the combo guard that is son of a Syracuse assistant, but has expressed interest. The offer level right now is that of a mid-major recruit, but a big senior year could lead to more high major interest and offers.

Jayden Lemondhttps://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/jayden-lemond-270732

A lead guard out of Blair Academy in New Jersey, there hasn’t been too much traction with Lemond despite a Providence offer. Providence appears to be making more of a push in the Garden State with offers to players that play on an NJ AAU team in Team Rio in the 2021 and 2022 class (Jayden Pierre and Rafael Castro). I’d anticipate Lemond to stay on the East Coast, but unfortunately not be a Friar. Of late, there seems to be an SEC flair to his recruitment.

Reid Ducharmehttps://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/reid-ducharme-277391#school-interests

Ducharme is a shooting guard out of New England with ties to Brewster Academy. Ducharme was offered by the Friars in June of 2021. It appears this will be another Northeast battle brewing, with UConn and Syracuse some of the primary competition. Ducharme is a smooth shooting wing that is lethal from deep, but also willing and able to attack the rim. He’s the type of player PC doesn’t land too often, but is sorely needed on the roster. He does remind me of AJ Reeves a bit.

Silas Demary Jr. https://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/silas-demary-jr-270819

A shooting guard out of the friendly confines of North Carolina, Demary Jr.’s stock has exploded this AAU season. Demary Jr. is a winner that continues to find himself in the headlines for all the right reasons. I’d expect the relationships Battle has developed in the Tar Heel state to assist us here if we decide to push. This may be a familiar scenario where Providence goes head to head with ACC foes. As of right now, VCU, PC and Texas A&M are in the driver’s seat.

Recruits of Interest – Wing

Jahmari Hamilton-Brown -https://www.verbalcommits.com/players/jahmari-hamilton-brown

Every year, Mass Rivals has a guy who explodes in his senior year. This is my pick. Providence rightly offered him in October of 2021, and his recruitment hasn’t taken off as I would expect. I presume that will change this upcoming AAU season.

A big bodied wing that can play through contact and finish at the rim, he’d be an ideal development candidate for Cooley and staff to be a nuisance in the Big East come his junior and senior year. He would fit the physical, defense first mentality that Cooley’s squads have come to be known for. Keep an eye out here (just my 2 cents).

Matas Buzelishttps://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/matas-buzelis-269999#school-interests

6’8 Small Forward from Brewster Academy – Providence was an early offer here, but he has seen his recruitment explode. Look for schools like Michigan, Arizona, and Kansas to be the heavy hitters in this recruitment, as they’ve had some success with similar players as Buzelis. Simply put, Buzelis can choose to attend whatever school he desires.

Taylor Bol Bowen https://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/taylor-bowen-269335

Bowen, another wing from Brewster Academy, has long been a target for the Friar staff and has been on campus multiple times. It is clear that Cooley has made him a significant priority. Another Brewster Academy player, Cooley is going to continue to push. This is going to be a similar battle to Wenyen Gabriel, where the Friars are the local school trying to fend off the blue bloods like Duke and Kentucky. Bowen, while highly ranked, still is somewhat raw and needs some type to develop in a college strength and conditioning program before he reaches his full potential. The main competition is going to be a Duke or UCONN, in my opinion, but Providence has positioned itself quite nicely by having him be a frequent visitor on campus. The superb year on the court certainly helps as well.

Gavin Griffiths https://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/gavin-griffiths-276095

A Connecticut product that has been on campus a handful of times already. The need for wings has already been discussed in detail, and Griffiths would fit that mold to a tee. While his game is a perfect fit for Cooley’s squad (think a more athletic and advanced Horchler at the same age), I don’t think Providence is standing well in this one. I’d anticipate UCONN to win this recruitment, unfortunately.

Wesley Tubbs IIIhttps://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/wesley-tubbs-iii-272140#school-interests

An under the radar wing that has accumulated offers over the past year. Tubbs III hails from North Carolina, and this should be a battle between Mid-Atlantic programs and Providence, should Providence decide to push harder in this recruitment.

Recruits of Interest – Bigs

Ugonna Kingsleyhttps://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/ugonna-kingsley-279918

Kingsley is a name that has really popped up on the Providence College radar over the past few months due to him reclassifying into the 2023 class. A 7 foot big playing for local Putnam Science Academy, Kingsley is a 4 star Top 100 player. Kingsley hails from Nigeria and is a bit raw offensively. His impact to the college game will be on defense and rim protection first and foremost. He honestly is the perfect rim-running athletic big man that seem to grow on trees at blue blood programs.

Providence, as of this writing, is in a great position, but I anticipate this to be a local battle with newly hired Shaheen Holloway at Seton Hall, Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, and Danny Hurley at UCONN.

Joseph Estrellahttps://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/joseph-estrella-281541

A “local” recruit hailing from Maine, Estrella is a long 6’10 big that can run the floor and finish near the rim. Providence is battling with the likes of Syrcause and Marquette for his services. PC hasn’t necessarily turned the heat up on this recruitment, but may do so if they don’t land some of their other frontcourt recruits.

Isaiah Mirandaย โ€“ https://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/isaiah-miranda-257539

Miranda is the next blue chip prospect to hail from the Ocean State in the 2023 class. The Friars have been trying to stay front and center in this recruitment. With Horchler, Watson, and Croswell departing over the next two years, along with the addition of a developmental big in Essandoko, it would be ideal to land Miranda who would likely be able to provide the Friars with solid minutes at the 4/5 the moment he steps onto campus. This recruitment seems to have been pushing away from the Friars as other programs like USC, UCONN, Kentucky, Duke, and LSU get in the mix. Miranda reminds me of the new modern big, like an Evan Mobley, that is all of 7 feet tall, but can run the floor.

TJ Power โ€“ https://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/t-j-power-269962

Another local flavor here hailing from Massachusetts, Power is more of a 4 than a true center. I think if the Friars turn up the heat here, they have a great shot at landing Power. Competition will likely include the local B.C. Eagles. I’m a bit surprised more high major programs haven’t gotten into the mix. I’d do everything possible if I was Cooley to land this kid.

Akil Watson โ€“ https://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/akil-watson-269121

Watson is a frontcourt player from the Garden State, playing for the powerhouse Roselle Catholic program. The Friars have offered here, but it seems like they are on the outside looking in with programs like UCONN, Illinois, and Oklahoma State being the perceived programs to beat. Watsonโ€™s teammate Simeon Wilcher recently committed to UNC.

Papa Kantehttps://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/papa-kante-277364

Kante is another big from Connecticut. While he holds an offer from PC, I haven’t seen much noise between player and program. I’d anticipate he lands at a Rutgers or Syracuse.

Brandon Whitehttps://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2023/brandon-white-265218#school-interests

White was originally a North Carolina high school recruit, which is likely how the Friars got into the mix, but is now playing out West at the newly formed Donda Academy. That move can’t be great for Providence, but we’ll see how engaged they remain. White reclassified from 2022 to 2023 to give himself more time to develop, which appears to be paying off with his growing recruitment.

Class Predictions

BOC: I adjusted my prediction from Version 1. Version 1 had me predicting Griffiths, Bowen, and a NC recruit. My version 2 is a bit different.

I think we pull an ultimate shocker and land Taylor Bowen. This will give PC one of the highest ranked recruits in history, comparable to a Kris Dunn, Ricky Ledo type signing. The second player is Ugonna Kingsley, which wasn’t even on the radar as of 3 months ago. He and Essandoko fortify the frontcourt for the next 4-5 years. The third player is more of a shot in the dark, and I’ll guess it will be one of three players: Silas Demary Jr, Jahmari Hamilton-Brown, or Wesley Tubbs III. This three man class would finish with 1 5 star, 1 4 star, and 1 3 star. This should cement the Providence Friars with a Top 25 nationally ranked class and keep them in the upper echelon of the Big East.

Crier: It feels like itโ€™s been awhile since Iโ€™ve thought about recruiting. Predicting high school recruits under Cooley is difficult. Think about some of the guys that have played pivotal roles for the Friars success this season- Al Durham, Noah Horchler, Jared Bynum, Justin Minaya and Ed Croswell are all transfers. I think Cooley has liked his return on the transfer portal and will no doubt try to tap into it for next season and the season after. With the historic season, I’m confident in drawing a line in the sand and saying that the Friars will land a top 50 prospect for 2023.

2 thoughts on “The 2023 Recruiting Primer, Version 2: Providence Friars”

  1. look Friars need a true center and power forward both who play defense and score inside, guards are a dime a dozen today! but a good shooting guard from deep would be nice! depth must always come into play as injuries or sickness are things to guard against! this year I was proud of the friars and the program, but continuity is a must to build on! Lifelong fan from 1956 to today!

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