Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Providence Lands Top PG Recruit Kris Dunn

Providence fans are ecstatic today after new coach Ed Cooley landed Kris Dunn, arguably the best point guard in the 2012 recruiting class. Scout has him 1st, ESPN has him 2nd, and Rivals has him 4th. Recruiting is an inexact science, of course. These are the same services that had Josh Selby ahead of Kyrie Irving, Scott Martin ahead of Evan Turner, Craig Brackins over Blake Griffin, Jeronne Maymon ahead of Kawhi Leonard, Romero Osby over Klay Thompson, Kenny Kadji ahead of Tyler Zeller, Ray Shipman ahead of Marcus Morris and Alex Legion ahead of DeJuan Blair.

But while landing Dunn might not end up meaning much on the floor, he opens up a tremendous opportunity for Ed Cooley. The reality is that Providence needs a reason - a spark - to get blue chip recruits to commit to them over their top Big East rivals. I'm sure that some Providence alums get offended by that idea, and they'll probably bring up that Final Four trip under head coach Rick Pitino in 1987. But the reality is that for most 17 and 18 year old kids, that might as well have happened in the Cenozoic Era.

Keno Davis was actually moving the Providence program in the right direction, particularly with a very deep 2010 recruiting class. But he was fired after only three years at Providence because things were going slowly, and more importantly because he wasn't bringing in blue chip recruits.

If there's one thing that coaches look to achieve in their first year it's a splashy recruiting class. If you can't get blue chippers in your first class, how can you convince a future star to join your squad? But bring in a stud-filled first class and suddenly you'll get yourself on the radar of dozens of top recruits. A perfect example of this is at St. John's under Steve Lavin. While Lavin got a ton of hype for the success he had on the floor, the reality is that the team didn't really perform any better than one would have expected if Norm Roberts was still at the helm. Lavin's true accomplishment was his recruiting class - a high quality and very deep class that confirmed St. John's as a place for top recruits for the first time in almost 20 years.

The signing of Dunn won't launch Providence into the top half of the Big East by itself. But it presents a tremendous opportunity for Cooley to use Dunn as a magnet to draw in other top recruits. A single recruiting class has the power to wake up a slumbering program overnight.

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