Kim English has done a fantastic job thus far of solidifying the Providence college roster heading into the 2023-2024 season. There was concern that the roster would need a complete overhaul due to players leaving, but English has, if anything, augmented the roster from last year. It’s safe to say the PC of 2023-2024 is more well rounded and has a higher ceiling than 2022-2023. That is quite a statement given PC was considered a Top 25 nationally ranked squad for the majority of the season.
To summarize developments to the roster to date, English landed grad transfer big Josh Oduro from George Mason to bolster the frontcourt, while also landing athletic wing Justyn Fernandez to bolster wing depth for the future. Oduro has one year of eligibility while Fernandez has 3. He also was able to get Santoro to reconfirm his commitment in the 2023 high school recruiting class. Santoro is a long wing known for his shooting prowess.
Providence fans have steadily been receiving positive news on existing players returning, magnified by the decisions of Bryce Hopkins and Devin Carter yesterday. With the return of Bryce Hopkins, Devin Carter, Quante Berry, Corey Floyd Jr., and Alyn Breed, along with the additions of Santoro, Fernandez, and Oduro, the remaining needs for the Friars are rather straightforward: Point Guard and a Center.
Jayden Pierre surprisingly entered the portal, as did Jared Bynum. We don’t expect Bynum back, but are cautiously optimistic Pierre reconsiders and stays in the fold as a Friar. With the nucleus of this squad returning, Pierre would be foolish to pass up an opportunity to lead this offensively potent team at point guard. If Pierre exits the portal, Providence should be all set at point guard for the next 2-3 years.
That leaves PC with a hole on the roster in the frontcourt. Rafael Castro’s status is still unknown, but even if he were to return, PC badly needs another big body for depth. That somebody is preferably an athlete with height, length, and athleticism. Oduro is a fantastic offensive player as a five man, but relying solely on Oduro and Castro as your 5’s isn’t a recipe for success. Thus, English is looking to further improve the roster with another high impact five man.
Graham Ike fits that mold. Ike will be visiting Providence the weekend of April 14th.
Below, we break down Ike’s game and how he fits into the mix as a potential Friar.
Ike is a 6’9/6’10 post player from Wyoming. Ike missed this past year due to a lower leg injury, but put up outrageous stats in his true sophomore season in 2021-2022. Ike averaged 20 and 10 and led Wyoming to the NCAA tournament. Due to the COVID year loophole, Ike technically has 3 more years of eligibility. If English could somehow land this transfer big man, he now has his future 5 man for the foreseeable future.
It remains to be seen if English envisions Oduro at the 4 and Ike at the 5 or if they split time at the 5. If Ike were to commit, the frontcourt goes from an abject disaster to a strength if you think about the composition of Oduro, Ike, and Castro. English is building a roster that is both deep and talented.
Player Fit – Providence
While Oduro gets to his position on the floor with marvelous footwork and patience, Ike uses his strength and physicality to do the same.
Where they are similar is their ability in the post to score. Ike reminds me a bit of Nate Watson where he uses brute force to get where he wants on the court. There’s something to be said for having a physical five man who likes to mix it up in the post. Ike does that. Watson was so effective in the low post because he was bigger and stronger than his opposition. I get similar vibes with Ike.
Ike is also a double double machine. A lot of his points often come off of offensive rebounds and put backs. The hallmark under Cooley was rebounding and toughness, and Ike would bring a lot of that to this iteration of the Friars.
When somebody transfers up, the question inevitably is if their production carries over to the high major level. In their loss to Indiana against All-American Trayce Jackson Davis, Ike more than held his own. He put up 17 points and 9 rebounds. In that same season, Ike put up 26 and 10 against Washington and 17 and 4 against Arizona. His game clearly carries over to the Power 6 level.
Ike doesn’t have great assist numbers, but something that caught my eye watching his tape is his ability to pass out of the post. Ike was the focal point of the Wyoming offense, so he would inevitably get doubled. Again, his assist numbers aren’t great, but he seemed to show an exceptional ability to pass out of a double and find the open cutter. That’s a really unique trait for a big man.
Providence may have an “in” here due to his existing relationship with Devin Carter. Carter and Ike played AAU ball together before Devin Carter moved down to Florida.
For the upcoming year, if Ike were to commit, I would expect one of Oduro or Ike to come off the bench with each splitting time. My guess is that Ike is first off the bench, but time will tell if he forces himself into a starting line-up. My only hesitancy with having Ike and Oduro both starting is that both don’t shoot the three ball. It also forces Hopkins to play the the 3 spot.
English wants 4 shooters on the court, so Oduro and Ike on the court at the same time eliminates that possibility. Also, I think we all believe the best version of BHop is playing the stretch 4 where he can take his defender off the dribble and utilize his quickness. Spacing on the offensive end would be much better with one of these two on the court, rather than both. With all that said, English would love to have to solve for this problem.
If Providence is able to land Ike, it sets up English with a future star on his roster. Don’t assume this is foregone conclusion though. The blue bloods are after Ike, namely Kentucky and Kansas. This will be a tough one to win, but PC is in there early and has secured a visit, which is massive.
After this year, it wouldn’t shock me to see Hopkins and Carter leave alongside Oduro. English needs high level talent to reload the roster. Ike would be that person. English is building the present and future for Providence, and Ike/Fernandez/Santoro would be the new blood to usher in Friar basketball post BHop/Carter.
If Providence does land Ike, I still have questions on the defensive end, as PC still lacks a true rim protector. English is a dog on the trail, so I presume he is actively working to resolve that.
Bottom line: Ike is one of the most sought after transfers for a reason. He has the potential to be an All-Conference player in the Big East, and English would have him for 3 years.
We should know more shortly after his mid-April visit.
Recruiting Article Archives
Class of 2024 Recruiting Primer, Version 3.0 – https://theprovidencecrier.com/2023/03/27/providence-college-basketball-recruiting-class-of-2024/
Transfer Portal Spotlight: Josh Oduro: https://theprovidencecrier.com/2023/03/25/transfer-portal-spotlight-george-mason-forward-josh-oduro/
Transfer Portal Spotlight: Justyn Fernandez: https://theprovidencecrier.com/2023/03/26/transfer-portal-spotlight-george-mason-wing-justyn-fernandez/