Thursday, August 29, 2013
Providence adds ESPN 100 center Chukwu
By Adam Finkelstein
ESPN 100 center Pascal Chukwu (Westport, CT/Fairfield Prep) committed to Providence on Thursday night, announcing his decision via Twitter.
The 58th-ranked prospect and 5th best center in the nation, Chukwu combines immense natural talent with what has proven to be a quick learning curve. He has already proven to be one of the better shot-blockers in the country, while making rapid strides on the offensive end of the floor within the last six months as well.
Chukwu took an official visit to St. Joseph’s earlier this week, and was widely perceived to be choosing between the two schools, despite having been pursued by a variety of high-major programs.
For Providence coach Ed Cooley, the commitment is a result of years of hard work, dating back to his time as the coach at the University of Fairfield. Providence made Chukwu a top priority not just this year, but also in the summer of 2012, when he was still flying very low below the national radar.
“I’m close to the coaching staff, I’ve been up to Providence many times and I thought it was a good fit for me,” Chukwu told ESPN. “I like how Coach Cooley relates to players.”
The commitment is an absolutely huge one for Providence as Chukwu joins Jalen Lindsey (Franklin, TN/Hungtington Prep) to become the second ESPN 100 product to commit to Providence this year. That’s significant for a number of reasons.
First, the 2014 class is expected to be a big one for Providence, with potentially as many as five scholarships to fill. Lindsey and Chukwu give Providence just the early anchors it was looking for, while also addressing its top priorities in the frontcourt.
This gives Providence a boost of momentum heading into the upcoming decisions by fellow ESPN 100 products Abdul-Malik Abu (Marblehead, MA/Kimball Union) and Jared Terrell (Weymouth, MA/Brewster Academy) on September 7th. Providence remains in the hunt for both but was thought to be losing some ground as of late. Chukwu, Abu, and Terrell all attended Providence’s Elite Camp together earlier this month, and so Chukwu’s commitment gives Cooley some extra ammunition to use down the home stretch.
Regardless of what happens with Abu and Terrell, having Chukwu and Lindsey on board solidifies Cooley’s third consecutive strong recruiting class since taking the reigns at Providence. He made big waves in Year 1 when he delivered a top-ten class that included local products Kris Dunn and Ricardo Ledo. He added another ESPN 100 perimeter player last year in Brandon Austin while also attacking the transfer front. Now, with the foundation for another strong class in place, he’s continuing to grow Providence’s brand one year at a time.
Finally, while there is no denying the rise of Providence’s national brand, Cooley’s core competency has been his ability to dominate his backyard. Chukwu’s commitment keeps that streak alive while continuing to pour gas on the fire that now has the top prospects in New England, from across AAU and grassroots lines, believing it’s fashionable to stay home and play at Providence.