Discover more from The Field Of 68 Daily
Trial by Friar
We take stock of programs that used the transfer portal to replenish rosters, starting with Providence, plus notes on the Huskies and Gators. Also, a 2024 prospect makes a leap.
We’ll spend the next few days highlighting the transfer portal winners from the summer, starting with the significant overhaul in Providence, and two other robust roster additions in Washington and Florida. That transfer portal never stops providing news.
Subscribe to The Field Of 68 Daily! It’s FREE.
Let’s get to the news.
1. Providence’s roster puzzle
The transfer portal can be a burden, especially for teams trying to retain talent. But for programs that need to replenish a roster, it’s a gift.
Just ask Providence coach Ed Cooley.
“This time of the year is like Christmas for us coaches,” he told the Providence Journal. “Especially with eight new players, you get to see what type of ornaments are going to go on your tree. You get to see which ones stand out, which one has some pop to it, which one everybody says, ‘Oh, I want that on my tree next year.’
“As I look at our ornaments, we’ve got a lot of work to do to put some shine on it. I like our talent. Our continuity and our chemistry, we have to develop that.”
Cooley knows a little bit about creating chemistry. Last year’s Big East champs mixed in two transfers, Al Durham and Justin Minaya, who were essential pieces of the Friars’ breakout 27-6 season that included a Big East regular-season title and a trip to the Sweet 16.
But eight new players and five new starters is another story. They’ll certainly lean on returning players Jared Bynum (Big East Sixth Man of the Year) and Ed Croswell, but it’s the newcomers who’ll determine if it’s another magical season. Noah Locke (Louisville) and Devin Carter (South Carolina) will likely start, while Kentucky transfer Bryce Hopkins is the one who could elevate Providence. From The Almanac:
The Friars open their season on Nov. 8 against Rider and have a few games before their first real test, Miami, at the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off. That and a Nov. 30 game at TCU will be the biggest tests of the non-conference schedule, positioned around tune-ups against the likes of Merrimack College and Columbia.
By the time they open Big East play on Dec. 17, Cooley should be able to tell just how good those new ornaments really look.
2. Practices = unfiltered optimism
We’re a little less than five weeks from the first college basketball games, which means coaches are in full preseason mode with generic quotes, vague lineup projections and bold statements. Such as this gem from Washington coach Mike Hopkins.
“We’re on the way up again,” Hopkins said Wednesday during an extensive interview on the eve of the first Husky practice. “You can’t rush the process. Obviously, the COVID year (5-21) was just a disaster. Last year, it didn’t start off like we wanted (5-5 during nonconference games), but you just got to believe in what you’re doing.
“Our system has a proven track record. You got to get the right guys on that roster, and then you got to coach them every day with energy and enthusiasm and build their belief. I believe at the end of the year (last season) you could feel something good.”
In five seasons at UW, Hopkins has won more than 20 games twice. The Huskies are 37-53 in the last three seasons. “A proven track record” is quite generous.
Sure, there’s stuff to like about Washington this season. Terrell Brown Jr. was a top 10 scorer last year at 21.7 ppg, and did add some notable transfers, including Kentucky starter Keion Brooks and Washington State starter Noah Williams. They’re going to be a long, athletic defense, which is the biggest component of Hopkins’ optimism. But proven? Hm.
3. Dylan Harper makes the leap
A new On3.com ranking of the 2024 prospects kept guard Tre Johnson at No. 1 overall. There’s a fast riser at No. 2 in Dylan Harper.
The son of former NBA All-Star Ron Harper and younger brother of Rutgers standout and Raptors signee Ron Harper, Jr., catapulted from 19 to second based on his mix of size and feel for the game. The 6-5 guard was a standout at Peach Jam, averaging 16.5 ppg.
Also interesting in On3’s rankings? Centers are center stage.
Flory Bidunga, Asa Newell, and Yves Missi occupy slots 4-6, though none of them are overly big (Missi is the tallest at 6-10). Newell is the only one of the three who can stretch the floor offensively, so it’ll be interesting to see how their games develop — and if they’re more likely to stay in college longer than others.
Also in recruiting news:
San Francisco added Ryan Beasley, a 5-11 point guard out of California.
IUPUI snagged 6-11 forward James Flippin, who played last season at Wallace State CC.
4. Dive into the details
If you need a break from the 814 pages in The Almanac, you could try notes from the upcoming NCAA Division I Council meeting this week, which is supposed to get updates from the D-I Transformation Committee.
Per Nicole Auerbach, there could be recommendations coming on governance and championships, not to mention coaching staff sizes for each sport. And maybe even some progress on the progression of programs to D1 status.
5. The lead Gator ‘does all the little things’
Florida’s offseason overhaul wasn’t as substantial as Providence’s — when you’ve got Colin Castleton in the middle, it helps — but the Gators did add four new key players in point guard Kyle Lofton, guards Will Richard and Trey Bonham, and forward Alex Fudge.
Lofton, a two-time first-team All-Atlantic 10 player, averaged 12.8 points and 5.9 apg last season, with a 2.3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’ll direct the offense for new coach Todd Golden, making him the most important new addition.
Even if he’s not a game-breaker. But that’s OK with Golden.
“First and foremost, he’s a great leader,” he told the Gainesville Sun. “He commands respect from his teammates, but he also does a really good job of holding them accountable in a way that they want to run through a wall for him and he’s just a really, really talented winner as a player.
“Now, he’s not an incredible shooter, he’s not the best athlete in the world, but he ends up winning everything he’s doing. He’s that guy. He does all the little things that you want as a point guard. He uses his voice, which is really important to me.”
There’s something to be said for a reliable, experienced point guard. Flash can get you a bucket, but that steady presence wins games.
An added bonus for Lofton? Former Gator Taurean Green, who played point for Florida’s back-to-back NCAA championship teams, is the program’s director of player development. That’s a resource Lofton uses every day.
“He’s like one of my big brothers,” Lofton told the Sun. “When I get a chance to, I work out with him a lot. He’s just dropping some knowledge on how to win and how to be successful at the college level.”
Need more on the Gators? You’ll find it here.
THE FAST BREAK
Links as you remember that celebrities also are sports fanatics.
One of the top 2023 prospects yet to commit, Ron Holland says he probably won’t make a decision until spring.
The best-selling Illinois jersey? Freshman Skyy Clark.
London Johnson, a 4-star point guard, will re-classify to 2022 and sign a two-year deal with the G-League Ignite.
Ohio State now has its first basketball-specific NIL Collective.
A job posting that could signal how the NCAA will handle NIL violations.
Thanks for reading The Field of 68 Daily! Share it with a friend!
BROUGHT TO YOU BY EDGE SPRAY
Grip, don’t slip
Making stepping on wet towels or wiping soles with palms a thing of the past.
EDGE is a new shoe grip spray that has been endorsed by players, coaches, and trainers from AAU through D1 and the pros. Learn more
To sponsor a future Field of 68 Daily newsletter, please connect with us here. For article ideas, newsletter feedback, tips and more, shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.