Justin Bishop ’24
The best player for the Providence College Men’s Basketball team is clearly 6’10” Center, Nate Watson ’22GS. He is dominant in the paint and constantly comes down with rebounds. However, the X–Factor for this season’s team is the new guy-transfer guard Al Durham ’22GS.
Head coach Ed Cooley knew Durham would be great for the PC culture. He said, “I know that as good as a basketball player as Al is, he is even a better person and for that reason we believe he will fit into our culture as we welcome him into the Friar family.”
Durham transferred to Providence this past off-season from the University of Indiana where he averaged 8.6 points per game (PPG) and 2.0 assists per game (APG) across 123 games during his tenure.
The 6’4” playmaker transferred to Providence looking for a bigger role and better leadership than where he left.
He is a confident shooter the team can rely on to keep his composure during crucial moments.
The veteran guard has started out on a hot streak, putting up at least 10 points in every game this year and is currently averaging 13.4 PPG and 3.6 APG, well above his averages during his time at Indiana.
Durham has adjusted well to playing with a new group of guys, but having veteran players like Watson, Noah Horchler ’22GS, and A.J. Reeves ’22 on the starting lineup helps. Durham is expected to be the clutch guy and make the big shot late in a close game.
The question of whether Durham can adapt to the Big East style of play compared to the Big 10 remains.
The Big 10 Conference is similar to the Big East, where it is dominated by big Centers in the paint as the first scoring option, with the second scoring option in the corner, ready to shoot a three.
For Providence, Watson is the first scoring option down low in the post, and Durham is expected to slide in as the second scoring option ready to hit that clutch three or short jumper. Watson is currently averaging 17.7 PPG, the most on the team, while Durham is second with 13.4 PPG, proving that this model is working. If the Friars want to reach the next level, Durham is going to have to step up in big ways.
Stephen Foster ’22
When looking at the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team’s roster for the 2021-2022 season, there is a group of talented players ready to prove their worth to the team.
However, one player stands out as the X-Factor for the Friars this season: center Nate Watson ’22GS. Watson is returning to the Friars for his graduate year, which will be his fifth season with the team.
He has made substantial improvements throughout his collegiate career, and this season seems to be no different.
Watson was named the Providence College Male Team Athlete of the Year last year for his impressive season, during which he recorded a team high 16.9 points per game (PPG), 6.7 rebounds per game (RPG), and 26 total blocks. David Duke ’22, who finished second on the team in points per game (16.8 PPG) and rebounds per game (6.3 RPG), chose to leave PC after last season to play professional basketball in the NBA. Watson is expected to step up and become a pure star player for the Friars in order to fill the gap left by Duke.
So far this year, Watson is leading the team with 17.7 PPG and 10 blocks. He is also second on the team with 5.9 RPG, including a team-high of 13 offensive rebounds. Watson controls the paint both offensively and defensively for the Friars. He is their best option when they look to score inside and is their number-one rim protector. He also grabs the most rebounds for the Friars, which limits the opposing team’s shot attempts and ensures that Providence gets as many possessions as they can on the offensive end. It is essential in D1 College Basketball to have a force like Watson playing the center position.
If Watson can hold down the key for the Friars, then the rest of the team will step up from deep and capitalize on their three-point shot attempts (3PTA). Having Watson’s strong interior presence opens up the court for guard Al Durham ’21 (13.4 PPG, 31 3PTA, 25.8 3PT%), forward Noah Horchler ’21 (11.9 PPG, 25 3PTA, 48.0 3PT%), and guard AJ Reeves ’22 (7.9 PPG, 32 3PTA, 31.3 3PT%) to provide consistently from beyond the arc.
If Watson can continue to perform at this level for the remainder of the season, the Friars should rise to the top of the Big East Conference in 2021-2022.