by Sam Scanlon ’20
The Kris Dunn era is over in Providence. The two time Big East Player of the Year graduated in 2016, and started his professional career last June as the 5th overall pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, Kris Dunn ’16 wasn’t the only player selected that represented the Friars. His counterpart, Ben Bentil ’18, decided to declare for the draft, left school, and was the 51st overall pick to the Boston Celtics. With both Dunn and Bentil no longer on the Providence roster, the team is going to have to find a way to move forward and fill the void.
Despite losing two key components of last year’s successful squad, the Friars plan on keeping up their momentum with this year’s current roster. There is a ton of talent from top to bottom on the team, making the transition without Dunn and Bentil on the floor extremely easy.
The veterans are looking to step up and become dominant players who are able to take control of big games. Production out of Kyron Cartwright ’18, Rodney Bullock ’18, and Jalen Lindsey ’18 will be huge if this team hopes to succeed. They have a lot of experience as Coach Cooley noted, “Rodney, Kyron and Jalen have played in a lot of big games for us, including three NCAA Tournament games. We are now looking for them to enhance their roles and lead the team to another successful season.” The three of them are going to take on bigger roles this year, both in terms of leadership and production. They need to take the reins from Dunn and lead the team to more wins by using their experience to take over every game with their skills. When the veterans are performing, the Friars are going to be tough to stop, and the hole left by Dunn and Bentil will be filled.
On top of veteran leadership, the Friars have an extremely talented sophomore class that is looking to contribute more and step into bigger roles from their rookie seasons. When speaking specifically about the sophomore class, Coach Cooley had a particular pair in mind that is going to help the success of the team this year. He explained, “Ryan Fazekas ’19 could have a big role for us this season. He was slowed down last season by the virus mono, but we expect this season he will make an impact. Also, when healthy, Drew Edwards ’19 will need to contribute for us to have success. We need everyone to play a role.” Fazekas is going to step up into an increased shooting role to increase offensive production, while Edwards, a skillful player who also emerged as a three-point weapon, is going to see more time on the floor without Kris Dunn on the roster.
However, this shooting-heavy class of 2019 is expecting each player to come into his own and produce results in order for the team to succeed as Cooley added. The depth stretches from the upperclassmen down to the sophomores. They look to spread the wealth and get the sophomores involved as they take on their new roles in enhancing the offense from beyond the arc.
The Friars also welcome four freshmen to the roster this year to go along with two transfers who will be wearing the PC uniform for the first time. Bryan Donovan ’20 and Maliek White ’20 are two of the shorter players on the team, but they compliment the taller guys up front. White’s high-flying ability, explosiveness, and speed will provide a spark for the offense. Kalif Young ’20, Alpha Diallo ’20, Emmitt Holt ’17, and Isaiah Jackson ’19 are going to provide the height and fill in big-man roles that were previously occupied by Bentil. The new additions to the roster have a great deal of depth, speed and explosiveness as well as a lot of height that will be vital on defense and rebounding. White and Diallo, both four-star recruits, are ranked top 30 in their respective positions and are looking to make an immediate impact to start their careers. Cooley touched on the depth of the team and indicated his expectations as he concluded with, “We are looking for everyone to contribute for us on the floor, in the community and on the campus.” So look out for the boys this year and make your way over to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to support them as they look to get everyone involved and keep the Providence Basketball tradition alive with another successful season.