The 2000s started off pretty well for the Providence Friars. Head Coach Tim Welsh was in his 3rd season at the helm in Providence during the 2000-01 season when the Friars made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since going to the Elite 8 in 1997 under Pete Gillen's guidance. The following season (2001-02) saw the Friars go backwards and finish 15-16. However, it was during that season that the best player of the 2000's would break onto the scene.
Ryan Gomes was an undersized power forward who hadn't gotten a lot of attention on the recruiting trail out of Wilby High School in Waterbury, Connecticut. After doing a post grad year at Notre Dame Prep, Gomes decided to attend Providence College. His freshman season got off to a rough start as he didn't play the first few games and the idea of redshirting him was discussed with the coaching staff. But on December 3, 2001 Gomes would see his first collegiate action at South Carolina. The game ended on the wrong side for the Friars but it was clear Gomes was going to be a player. He had 15 points and 8 rebounds in 28 minutes of action. After December 3, 2001, Ryan Gomes would not come off the bench in a single time the rest of his Providence career. He was a starter from then on and was on his way to being a star.
His sophomore season saw an improved squad that would end up losing in the 2nd round of the NIT. Gomes led the team in scoring (18.4 points) and rebounding (9.7 rebounds) while setting a few all-time Providence records in the process. Gomes was on the cusp of becoming a legit star player. His junior season was his best year in a Friar uniform. He again led the team in scoring (18.9 points) and rebounding (9.4 rebounds) but this time the postseason would mean a trip back to the NCAA Tournament. I don't want to ruin any Friar fan's weekend by getting into the Pacific upset but the Friars were bounced in the first round that year.
Gomes' senior season was not what fans were expecting following a breakout junior season that saw him named a consensus First Team All-American. After testing the NBA Draft waters, Gomes returned for his senior season but had a different mentality. He was undersized even in college for the power forward position so he certainly lacked the requisite size for that position in the NBA. As such, Gomes moved to the small forward position to try to showcase his newly minted perimeter skills which would make him more attractive to NBA general managers and scouts.
His scoring average increased, but the team's wins did not.
Despite a disappointing end to his Friar career, few challengers are remotely close in the discussion for the best Providence player of the 2000's (2000-2009). He still holds a number of all-time Providence records and went on to have a very solid NBA career. While he is still trying to get back in the league and make a roster, he only played in 5 games last season.
All told, Gomes amassed 2,138 points and 1,028 rebounds in his 4 years at PC. The 2,138 is the all-time school record for points scored in a career. The previous mark was held by Friar legend Jimmy Walker (2,045 points). The 1,028 rebounds is good for 5th all time in school history and Gomes is the only player at Providence to have 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career. Gomes also received the Jimmy Walker Most Valuable Player Award for his final 3 season as a Friar. The only other Friar to win that award 3 times is Ernie DiGregorio.
While all the statistics and winning are nice and Friar fans appreciate how great Gomes truly was as a Friar, arguably one of the best things about Ryan Gomes' career at Providence is that he got so good that Jim Calhoun had a meltdown when asked why he didn't recruit Gomes who grew up in UConn's backyard.