Will Murphy ’23
Coming off of their most successful campaign in years and their first Big East regular season title in school history, the providence men’s basketball team is faced with the challenge of replacing many of their most impactful players from last year’s squad. Luckily, head coach Ed Cooley and his staff were able to secure the commitments of several high-profile student-athletes from the transfer portal. Bryce Hopkins ’25 and Devin Carter ’25 each figure to play critical roles as they are transferring in from University of Kentucky and University of South Carolina, respectively. Hopkins is a strong wing who can bull his way into the paint to finish in traffic. Carter is a high-flying, skilled wing who defends well, using his speed and aggression to harass opposing ball-handlers. Additionally, Clifton Moore ’23 G from La Salle University should provide some much-needed rim protection and the ability to stretch the floor at center. Most important of the incoming transfers is likely to be Noah Locke ’23 G who is coming to the Friars after previous stops at University of Louisville and University of Florida. Locke is a sharp-shooter whose game revolves around his exceptional ability to shoot from three-point range, which is an area of desperate need for the Friars. In their home-opener against Rider University, the Friars shot an ugly 4–19, or just over a measly 21 percent, on three-point attempts, and an even worse 26–43 on free throws. This can partially be attributed to first-game jitters, but a bigger factor may have been the loss of the Friars’ best shooters from last year’s team, Noah Horchler and AJ Reeves, to graduation. Locke is a career 38.4 percent three-point shooter, which is well above the national collegiate average, and he will be asked to play a role resembling Reeves’ last year. Locke can be an x-factor for an offense that might otherwise lack shooting touch to spread out opposing Big East defenses. This becomes especially important considering Jared Bynum ’23 G, Hopkins, and Carter are all at their best when they can operate in space, beat their man off the dribble, and finish at the rim or kick out to a capable three-point shooter like Locke. Locke’s ability to keep his man out of the paint and attach to him on the three-point line will be crucial in giving the offense the space they need to fire on all cylinders. If Locke is able to play up to his potential, the Friars could have another very exciting season in store for the eager fans at the AMP.
Justin Bishop ’24
The 2022-2023 men’s basketball team has brought in several five-star transfers this year, including the likes of Clifton Moore ’22G formerly of La Salle University, Devin Carter ’25 of the University of South Carolina, Noah Locke ’22G of the University of Louisville, and Corey Floyd Jr. ’26 who escaped the dark side from the University of Connecticut. Ed Cooley and his staff also poached a five-star recruit from the University of Kentucky, the player that will have the biggest impact of all the transfers, Bryce Hopkins ’25. Hopkins has it all: the size to play down low in the post and collect rebounds, along with the handles to get out of trouble or take it to the rack, and an effortlessly smooth jumper.
This is not a knock on any of the talent or expectations for the other transfer athletes that have felt the call to come to Friartown. Hopkins has the notion of being “That Guy.” He is a former five-star recruit, played at one of the biggest basketball schools in the nation, has gone from John Calipari who is a three time Coach of the Year & 2012 NCAA Champion head coach to Ed Cooley who now has a Coach of the Year on his resume. It is safe to say that Hopkins has played under two of the most well respected coaches in college basketball. With just that resume, the 6’7” forward has the highest expectations of anybody on the team.
However, after the game against Rider University, head coach Ed Cooley had high praise for Hopkins. Cooley stated, “Give him a damn chance to develop and grow, and I think you’re going to see one of the best players in the history of the school.” This high praise from Cooley is worth noting considering he has seen NBA talent in Kris Dunn and David Duke. Cooley making comments like this to the media should not be taken as headstrong; rather, he is giving his players confidence by giving them the chance to prove how good they are in each game.
If there is one player down the stretch that Friars will turn to when they need a tough bucket or a clutch rebound, they will look to the X-Factor Bryce Hopkins. Keep in mind that in last year’s edition of this PCI, a very smart writer chose Al Durham to be the X-Factor before the season.