The Providence Friars had the 54th “best” average height as a team among the 351 NCAA Division 1 basketball programs in America last season, according to Kenpom.com. However, the position where they lacked the most height, on average, was at center. The Friars were 181st nationally in terms of height at the center position. Ed Cooley’s Friars were running 6’9 — previously listed at 6’8 for the 2014-15 season — Ben Bentil out as their center with his backups being 6’8 freshman Quadree Smith and 6’8 redshirt sophomore Rodney Bullock. Smith played sparingly and ultimately transferred after the season, Bullock was undersized as the team’s starting power forward and Bentil chose to take his talents to the NBA, where he was drafted in the second round by the Boston Celtics.
The starting center spot for the 2015-16 Providence Friars seemed to be a lock for rising sophomore Paschal Chuwku until the 7’2 native of Nigeria made the surprising decision to transfer after his freshman campaign in Friartown. Chuwku chose Syracuse where he will be eligible for the 2016-17 season after sitting out, per NCAA transfer rules.
All of the above is meant to explain why Cooley was frantically chasing additional size for his frontcourt. Enter Kalif Young. 6’9, 255 lbs, 7’ wingspan.
Young and his mother visited Providence during the school’s commencement weekend and it was the atmosphere that turned the tide for the Friars over Big East rival Marquette.
“The final thing that made me decide was the family atmosphere. I felt right at home. It's a small school which I like,” the southpaw told Brendan McGair of the Woonsocket Call shortly after committing in mid-May.
Young played at Orangeville Prep and ran with famed Nike program CIA Bounce on the EYBL circuit. He also competed in the Biosteel All-Canadian Games the last two years, which is Canada’s version of the McDonald’s All-American game. Each year the top 24 basketball players from all of Canada compete in this game and Young took home MVP honors for Team Red after producing 20 points and 9 rebounds.
Young will get every chance to compete for early minutes with Bentil’s departure creating a wide open opportunity for anyone with any semblance of size to earn themselves a bevy of playing time. Young will be likely competing with Indian Hills Community College transfer Emmitt Holt for minutes on a team that figures to be in development mode after losing 60.7% of their scoring and 46.8% of their rebounding from last year’s NCAA Tournament team.