Scott Jarosz ’21
The Providence College Men’s Basketball Team is coming off what many would call an unsatisfactory 2020-2021 season. After being projected to finish third in the Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the Friars finished at sixth in the Big East standings upon the conclusion of the season.
PC finished the regular season with an impressive victory over Villanova University at Alumni Hall, but was unable to carry the momentum from this win into the Big East tournament. The Friars fell in the first round of the tournament to DePaul University by a score of 70-62. With the loss, the Friars finished the season with a record of 13-13 and failed to qualify for the postseason tournament.
To add insult to injury, several key players on PC’s roster entered the transfer portal shortly after the season ended and one player declared for the NBA Draft. Jimmy Nichols Jr. ’22, Kris Monroe ’22, and Greg Gantt ’23 all announced that they would be leaving PC to search for a new team.
Shortly following this news, star guard David Duke ’22 announced that he declared for the NBA Draft, a brutal blow for the Friars. However, despite these announcements, the PC basketball community still has a great deal to be excited about for the upcoming season.
Shortly after the end of the season, Jayden Epps, a highly touted four-star guard from Virginia, announced his commitment to Providence College. The news of Epps’ commitment to PC coincided with other good news. On March 17, Nate Watson ’21 announced that he will be returning to Friartown for a fifth season. Watson is eligible to play a fifth season because the NCAA granted all winter athletes an additional season of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elaborating on his decision to return to PC for a fifth season, Watson cited the fans as a major reason for his return. “I did not want to end my career without being able to have my final season playing at the Dunk in front of my family and all the great fans in Friartown,” Watson explained. Watson averaged 16.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in the 2020-2021 season and was a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award for the best center in college basketball.
Just over a week after Watson announced that he would be returning to PC for a fifth season, teammate Noah Horchler ’21RS announced that he, too, will be returning to PC to play an additional season.
Horchler is a high-energy player whose presence has had a tremendously positive impact on the court. In the final eight games of the season, Horchler averaged 11.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Horchler’s return is a welcome one considering the major hole in the scoring column created by Duke’s departure.
Additionally, Al Durham, a guard from Indiana University, announced on Twitter that he will be transferring to PC for his final season of eligibility. Durham averaged 11.3 points per game for IU and reached the 1,000-point mark during his final season with the team. Durham is also an excellent three-point shooter, and he will certainly be a valuable asset for the Friars.
Despite the loss of a few key players, the outlook for the PC Men’s Basketball Team is positive due to the return of Watson and Horchler, and the additions of Epps and Durham. The Friars appear prepared to have a successful 2021-2022 season.