Providence received some stellar news on Friday, as Bryce Hopkins and Devin Carter both simultaneously announced their return to Providence. With this announcement, the floor AND the ceiling are exponentially raised for the 2023-2024 Friars. We break down what their return means for Providence ahead of the next season.
Impact of Bryce Hopkins Coming Back
With the return of Hopkins, Providence now is one of two Big East programs to return a unanimous First Team All-Big East player. The other is the defending Big East champion Marquette and Tyler Kolek. That’s good company to be in.
With Hopkins returning, Providence is now going to have a candidate for 2023-2024 Big East Player of the Year. Hopkins will almost certainly get accolades as a potential All-American candidate as well. That’s some pretty high praise for a program that routinely doesn’t get these type of players.
Providence hasn’t had this type of star power returning since Kris Dunn returned to Providence. It’s great for Coach Kim English to have somebody like Hopkins to lean on, as Bryce will most certainly be one of the best scorers and rebounding wings in the entire country.
Impact of Devin Carter Coming Back
You can point to the stats of Hopkins and clearly see his impact. Devin Carter, in my opinion, is just as important to the success of Providence as Hopkins is.
I said this earlier in the year and stand by it: Carter is one of the best two way guards in the country. There isn’t a player on Providence that impacts a game more than Devin Carter. That includes Bryce Hopkins.
With Carter returning, Providence has arguably the best defender in the Big East returning (hat tip to Kalkbrenner). Carter is, simply put, one of the best wing defenders in the country and has the ability to lock down the opposition’s best backcourt player.
What makes his return most important, in my opinion, is his leadership qualities. I think Cooley incorrectly labeled Bynum last year as the face of Providence when the real leaders on the team the entire time were Ed Croswell and Devin Carter. With Carter returning, English should label him instantly as the emotional leader and captain of this upcoming team. He’s the type of foxhole guy that I love on my Friar squads. The team will be a tougher and more resilient Friar squad because he is back in the black and white.
What This Means for Providence in the Big East Hierarchy
I’ve been saying that the Big East is now the conference of coaches with the additions of Pitino, Smart, Holloway, Miller and rise of McDermott and Hurley. Kim English will be coaching his first year in arguably the hardest Big East conference to date. There will inevitably be preseason rankings for 2023-2024, and I’d imagine there are 5-6 teams that are ranked in the Top 25.
Connecticut will be, at worst, top 5. Creighton and Marquette will be, at worst, Top 10. Xavier should be Top 25. Oh, St. John’s also just signed a Top 5 head coach of all time. Joy.
That’s all to say that Kim English needed these two to return to be competitive in the Big East. If they both went to The League or transferred, Providence and English were staring at a bottom 3 finish in the Big East. Now, Providence should be preseason ranked Top 25.
Providence should be more than competitive in the Big East and has a fighter’s chance to try to win the conference. It’s going to be murderer’s row, but Providence now has the tools to at least be in the conversation to win it. That is all you can ask for Year 1 of the Kim English era.
What This Means for Providence & Rest of Roster
Bryce Hopkins and Devin Carter returning is great for the 2023-2024 Friars, but it will pay dividends for years to come. Floyd Jr. and Justyn Fernandez are the future wings for Providence basketball. Getting to go against Hopkins and Carter every day in practice will have them incredibly prepared for the future when they are thrust into prominent roles. Iron sharpens iron, and these two will be better players having to go against two of the better wings in the country.
Starting Line-Up Prediction
With Carter and Hopkins returning, PC should have one of the most explosive offensive line-ups in the Big East. I have serious questions about their defense, but their offense should be able to keep up with anybody in the nation. The addition of big man Oduro is another chess piece for the English 4 out, 1 in offense.
My prediction for the starting line-up is as follows: Pierre, Floyd Jr., Carter, Hopkins, Oduro
With the above line-up, Providence is almost certainly an NCAA tournament team and has a chance to make a serious run. With how the Cooley era ended, PC fans should be jumping for joy at this possibility.