The hard truth for Ed Cooley and Providence College is that Kris Dunn is no longer with the team. The two-time Big East Player of the Year is now a trendy pick for NBA Rookie of the Year as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Friars are left wondering how they can soften the blow of his departure. While Cooley has an in-house answer in Kyron Cartwright, but his late-2015 signing of Virginia point guard Maliek White could prove to be just as vital for the Friars.
White wasn't considered one of the best point guards in the class of 2016, but his attitude and approach to the game stands out to many, as Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal noted in an article last year. Cooley thrives off of coaching guys like White, a scrappy player who plays hard and makes things happen.
White rose through the recruiting ranks after a strong junior year at George Wythe High in Richmond, Va, a season in which he averaged 17.5 points and 5.8 assists per game en route to a state title. As McNamara also mentioned, White continued to make himself known with a strong year on the AAU Circuit, and eventually chose the Friars in early fall over schools like Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, and home-state school Old Dominion.
White won't be expected to step into the starting five right away, but he'll likely play a key role from the word go following the losses of Dunn and fellow guard Junior Lomomba, who departed for Western Kentucky. On a team overloaded with skilled wing players, White could make himself known as a solid distributor and occasional scorer, not unlike Cartwright did in his first two seasons as a Friar.
The parallels to Cartwright don't stop there either. Cartwright was relatively unheralded when he came to Friartown in late 2014, and quickly endeared himself to Cooley after being a capable leader of the second unit, something White will be asked to do as well. Unlike Cartwright, however, White stands over 6 feet tall (6'2" to be exact), and will be able to use his size to his advantage on both ends of the court.
Like any freshman, White is likely to have some growing pains. However, his upside is extremely high, and he'll find himself in the good graces of the Friar Faithful as long as his grittiness and willingness to win manifest themselves throughout his inaugural campaign.
You can see some of White's best high school highlights in his tape below.