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Austin completes strong Friars backcourt

With ESPN 100 strong forward Brandon Austin committing to Providence on Monday, the Friars just got a whole lot more talented and deeper next season. Providence assistant coach Bob Simon recruited him hard and did a great job.

The multidimensional Austin possesses a long frame and tremendous ball skills. His game is to distribute to others, and he does it at a high level. Don’t box him into a singular position just yet because he easily can play anywhere on the perimeter and be effective; he might even be a future point guard. A natural ball handler, he has excellent vision and the ability to create and find open teammates. With Austin, Providence could have one of the best and deepest backcourts in the country.

When it comes to scoring the ball, he has a knack of putting it in the basket by way of drive and jumper. With his slashing ability he will force a defense to help, and that’s when becomes extra dangerous because he will find the open man. His capable jump shot is more than deserving of respect from opponents, and his signature low and tight crossover allows him to easily shake free from defenders.

His shot preparation, however, needs polish. He shoots it differently almost every time he attempts and must learn to be more consistent and release it quicker before the defense arrives. Because he is a hard worker who cares about improving, that will correct itself with time and practice, though.

His was rail-thin a couple years ago and still needs to add muscle to his excellent length, but his toughness will help him compete until his body becomes Big East-ready. Defensively he needs to commit himself, first to stopping his man, then to playing help-side defense.

Providence coach Ed Cooley has been bitten by the injury bug already as this season. But he will have a completely different group with a strong and extremely talented perimeter next season. Ricky Ledo is sitting out this season because of academic issues but will be ready to go next year, when incoming freshman Kris Dunn should be back from shoulder surgery and shooter Josh Fortune will be a year older. Junior Friar Bryce Cotton is emerging and dropped 30 points against UNC Asheville on Sunday night.

It takes years to rebuild a program. It’s a process to break through the upper half of any league. Cooley and staff are putting the right pieces together and quickly have brought respectability to the program. The next step is to stay healthy and develop the talent they have. That will lead Providence to the top of the Big East.