#29 Providence Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Providence Friars
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #29
Conference Rank: #5 Big East
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Providence returns their top seven players to a team that snuck into the NCAA Tournament. The Friars 2017 NCAA Tournament appearance was brief since they lost to USC in Dayton during the First Four. However, making the tournament at all was a good showing for Providence and this is the year where Providence could seriously compete for a Big East title. Senior point guard Kyron Cartwright is the player that makes this team tick. He led the Big East in assists, averaging 6.7 per game. But he can score too. Cartwright is enough of a three-point shooting threat to keep the opposing defense honest and can use his speed to get to the basket and finish.
2016-17 Record: 20-13, 10-8
2016-17 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Ed Cooley
Coach Record: 123-80 at Providence, 215-149 overall
Who’s Out:
The only departure from last year’s regular rotation is Ryan Fazekas. The 6-8 guard played in 11.8 minutes per game and was capable of providing an offensive spark with his outside shooting ability. He is transferring to Valparaiso and should see more playing time there.
Who’s In:
The four incoming freshmen will add some more depth to this team and provide a nice core moving into the future. Makai Ashton-Langford is the highest regarded of the bunch. The 6-3 point guard will spend his freshman campaign being groomed to replace Cartwright at the point guard position in 2018-2019. The backcourt also adds local product Andrew Fonts. In the frontcourt, there will be a lot more size with the addition of centers Dajour Dickens and Nate Watson. Dickens, a seven-footer, will need some time to develop his game, but he is a very good athlete who should emerge as a key contributor in the years to come. Watson is a 6-10, 260 pound bruiser who has a better chance at cracking the regular rotation this year. His size, toughness and rebounding ability will be an asset.
Who to Watch:
Cartwright will have plenty of scoring options to get the ball to once again this season. The frontcourt duo of Rodney Bullock and Emmitt Holt were the team’s top scorers last season. Bullock, a 6-8 senior, led the team with 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He can do everything, including stretching out the defense with his outside shooting ability. Holt, a 6-7 forward, will stay in the paint more often, but he too can knock down some three-pointers. Holt is very efficient scoring in the paint and he should be in for a big senior season. Kalif Young had a promising freshman campaign and will again provide quality depth in the frontcourt. On the perimeter, the main scoring threat besides Cartwright is Jalen Lindsey. The big 6-7 senior guard was a superb shooter last year, connecting on 46.0 percent of his 161 three-point attempts. He could turn into an extremely dangerous scorer if he can be effective off the dribble. Alpha Diallo and Isaiah Jackson are big wings too. They split starting time last season and both will play a big role this year. Jackson is a better shooter, but Diallo is a promising sophomore who could have a breakout season. The backcourt also has Maliek White, a sophomore point guard who will have to compete with Ashton-Langford for minutes.
Final Projection:
Providence has everything they need to compete with the best the Big East has to offer. There is quality depth across the board and a ton of experience. This group got a small taste of the NCAA Tournament last season and will want to get back and prove that they can win a game or two this time around. The Friars have been to four straight NCAA Tournaments, but have only advanced to the second round once during that span. This might be their best opportunity to make a serious tournament run.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Kyron Cartwright, Senior, Guard, 11.4 points per game
Jalen Lindsey, Senior, Guard, 10.7 points per game
Alpha Diallo, Sophomore, Guard, 5.7 points per game
Rodney Bullock, Senior, Forward, 15.7 points per game
Emmitt Holt, Senior, Forward, 12.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.3 (242nd in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.9 (52, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.8 (148, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.0 (188, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 185, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.1 (79, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.1 (209, 7)
Rebound Margin: -1.3 (248, 8)
Assists Per Game: 14.3 (121, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.5 (119, 5)
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#38 Makai Ashton-Langford
#92 Nate Watson
#133 Dajour Dickens