By Meaghan Cahill ’20
There will be noticeable absences on the rosters of both the men’s basketball and hockey teams next year. Asides from the six graduating seniors on the hockey team and two seniors on the basketball team, hockey players Josh Wilkins ’20, Brandon Duhaime ’20, Jacob Bryson ’20, and Jay O’Brien ’22 alongside basketball player Alpha Diallo ’20 have all decided to pursue a professional career in their respective sports.
Bryson was the first player to announce his decision to cut ties with his college eligibility when, on April 15 he signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres. Having completed three full seasons with the Friars, the tri-captain of the hockey team recently earned Second Team Hockey East All-Star honors after a successful junior season that consisted of four goals and 24 assists (28 points total) in 42 games.
A 2017 fourth round draft pick (99th overall), Bryson has completed 121 games total with the Friars and notched 73 points during that time. He also was a two-time recipient of Hockey East’s Len Ceglarski Sportsmanship Award.
In place of completing both his junior and senior years at Providence College, Bryson will compete at an amateur tryout with AHL Rochester before his contract kicks in at the start of the 2019-2020 season.
Duhaime, like Bryson, also finalized an entry-level contract that will conclude his college eligibility. The fourth round, 106th overall 2016 draft pick was selected by the Minnesota Wild and will be playing for their AHL team, the Iowa Wild, on an Amateur Tryout Agreement. He dressed in 117 games as a Friar and during the course of three years, he totaled 22 goals, 50 assists, and a plus-18 rating.
Along with the April 16 announcement that he would not be continuing his career as a Friar, Duhaime made sure to thank the entire PC community, especially his coaches and teammates, for an “incredible” three years saying, “The memories made at Providence College were some that I will never forget.”
The last Friar who has decided to pursue a professional career is Josh Wilkins ’20, who signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Nashville Predators.
“Been a crazy few days but I’m excited to sign my first NHL contract,” he announced on social media. “Thank you Friars hockey for an incredible three years.”
Wilkins posted 46 points (20 goals and 26 assists) this past season; this is the best offensive season a Friar has had in over 15 seasons. He is not just the only 20-goal scorer since 2002-2003, but Wilkins is also the 54th hockey player to reach the 100-point milestone (he totaled 108 points over the course of three seasons).
And finally, rounding out the members of the hockey team who will not be returning next year is O’Brien. The Philadelphia Flyers prospect has decided to leave the College after what he described as a “tough” year in terms of injuries and playing style. Wanting to “play more games” and “have fun playing hockey again,” O’Brien commented that he will be looking to play in either the United States Hockey League, the Canadian major junior level, or the British Columbia Hockey League to “get back on track.”
It may be the end of their career as Friars for Bryson, Duhaime, Wilkins, and O’Brien, but for basketball player Diallo, coming back for his senior season will still be an option if things do not pan out the way that he wants in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Diallo announced on April 16 that he will submit an application to be an early entrant, which means that he will have the opportunity to withdraw his name by May 29 and come back to PC for his senior year.
In an official statement announcing his intentions, Diallo said, “I am excited to go through the workout process. I believe this process will help me grow as a player. I enjoy being at Providence College and playing for the Friars. The Friars have a strong group of players returning next season, and I believe the team could compete for a conference championship.”
Named to the Second Team All-Big East, Diallo put up 1,155 career points in 99 games with the College; he ranks 33rd all-time in scoring for the College.
Head Coach Ed Cooley commented on Diallo’s decision saying that “this process will enable him to gain knowledge and experience about the potential for his future in professional basketball.”
With the exception of O’Brien, all four players will be joining a group of very successful Friars in the big leagues. Most noticeably, for hockey, is former Friar Noel Acciari ’15, who is currently playing with the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a key part of their third line. A member of the 2015 National Championship Team, the style of play that Acciari developed at PC is what makes his NHL career so successful today.
According to Head Coach Nate Leaman, “[Acciari] takes the puck to the net hard, stays on the rebound and scores. That’s Friar hockey. That’s why Noelly’s out there.”
And while Acciari may be the most notable recent PC alum in the NHL, Bryson, Duhaime, and Wilkins can also be added to a list that contains some NHL greats such as Hal Gill, Fernando Pisani, and Chris Therien.
In Diallo’s case, should he chose to keep his name entered in the draft, he will be joining a long list of former Friar players who have gone pro, as well as current pro-player Kris Dunn, who graduated in 2016 and is now playing with the Chicago Bulls after being picked fifth overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. Dunn most notably scored a season-high 26 points—eight of which were in overtime—and had 13 assists in a 126-120 overtime win against the Washington Wizards on March 20.
On the former basketball player, PC Athletic Director Bob Driscoll said, “He plays both ends of the court at an elite level all the time. Usually people are good at one or two things. He can rebound, he can pass.” All of which are skills that he was able to develop and grow during his four years at PC.
In addition to former Friars making it big in both the NHL and NBA, PC can also boast that their athletes from all sports are having great success in their professional careers. Tate Boyce ’19 just signed with the Boston Cannons after they drafted him in the first ever Premier Lacrosse League Collegiate Draft. Also, former cross-country and track runner, Emily Sisson ’14 just became the sixth-fastest American in history on a record eligible course after finishing the London Marathon with a time of 2:23:08.
PC has a legacy of producing top-notch athletes who go on to have great careers in their chosen sport and while Wilkins, Duhaime, Bryson, and Diallo are only just taking the first steps to further their professional career, the College most certainly wishes them the best as they set out to make a name for themselves outside of a college setting.