- Paul Biancardi, Basketball Recruiting
When coach Ed Cooley makes a recruit a priority the percentages are usually in favor of the Rhode Island native. The Friars landed earlier tonight big-time ESPN 100 center Paschal Chukwu (Westport, CT/Fairfield Prep). This Providence program is beginning to take shape just like the Fairfield team that ED Cooley took to postseason appearances.
Why he committed: Trusted assistant Bob Simon has been recruiting Chukwu for a couple of years and the trust factor with Cooley, Simon and staff was hard to beat as loyalty and trust were a big part of the decision. The proximity was perfect as Chukwu wanted to be close to home and be in a big-time basketball program with a small-school feel. Providence checked all the boxes.
What he brings: Great length and excellent mobility. Chukwu's approach in the paint, specifically at the rim, has been much more assertive as he looks to block more shots on defensive and finishing with authority by dunking more on the offensive end. What makes his shot blocking special is his timing as he waits and leaves his feet seconds after the offensive player has jumped up in the air and released the ball.
A better interior passer than people realize, his ability to score is raw in terms of moves but that progress will come with strength, practice and coaching as he possesses a soft touch near the rim. When Chukwu is not in the gym he is in the weight room so he understands the importance of investing time into his game and body. Chukwu will eventually be a high-level rim protector and rebounder who can score close to the basket.
How he fits: When you go up and down the Providence roster you see many young pieces to a winning team and program but there is no one like Chukwu. The Friars needed a presence inside to contest and reject shots, while making it difficult for opponents to score at the rim. By being someone who can challenge shots, this will enhance the fast break which will be led by the talented Kris Dunn. With a wealth of scorers and developing size all -- led by Dunn -- Chukwu was the missing piece on the roster and in the lane. The quicker he develops the more dominating a team Providence can be in the future with all its other parts.
Who he reminds us of: When I watch Chukwu I see a version of former Georgetown Hoya great and NBA player Dikembe Mutombo both at 7-foot-2, thin and starting out as shot blockers and rebounders who run the floor with effort. Mutombo slowly developed his offense one step at a time over the years as Chukwu will take a similar path. The trait I question is that Mutombo was a fierce competitor, and that’s the part I don’t know yet about Chukwu.
How the class is shaping up: With two top 100 already committed (Jalen Lindsey is the other) and two transfers sitting out Tyler Harris (N.C. State) and Carson Desrosiers (Wake Forest), the Friars are building a talented and experienced group for the future. Lindsey, who is a super athlete and can make shots from the outside, is the type of athlete needed at this level to compete. With room for more, Providence is in the running for ESPN 100 prospects Abdul-Malik Abu and Jared Terrell, who are making their college decisions together on Sept. 7.