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November 13, 2011

Roundtable: Early signing period surprises

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a current topic in the sport.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: The early signing period began Wednesday. Were there any surprises to you among the top dozen or so classes?

David Fox's answer:
Other teams made a more dramatic late push, but the biggest recruiting surprise is Providence sitting with a top-five class and two top-10 prospects. The signing of Kris Dunn and Ricardo Ledo gives the Friars the best backcourt duo in this signing period. We knew Ed Cooley was a good recruiter from his days at Boston College and a good program-builder from his time at Fairfield. But a top-five class at Providence, a Big East footnote? That's a big surprise. Ledo is a Providence kid who represents a recruiting victory nonetheless. Dunn may have been the bigger coup as a point guard because he was considering Connecticut. Of any first-year coach, Cooley has made the biggest splash at a program not known for major recruiting victories.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
When I first glanced at the list of the top classes, I thought I had missed out on the national link and instead was looking at the top classes in the Big East. Providence at No. 4? That's unreal. New Friars coach Ed Cooley did a nice job at Fairfield, and when he was an assistant at Boston College, the Eagles were known for uncovering a lot of diamonds in the rough. But at Providence, Cooley has landed two of the nation's top 10 prospects. Even if the Friars - as expected - struggle this season, the future looks bright, especially for a school that has resided near the bottom of the Big East the past few seasons.

[Related: Early signing period notes]

Steve Megargee's answer:
I sure didn't expect to see Providence in the top five. This is a program that hasn't reached the NCAA tournament since 2004. The Friars have posted losing records in three of the past four seasons and have gone 4-14 in Big East competition in each of the past two seasons. New coach Ed Cooley did a nice job at Fairfield and had some experience on a major-college staff from working as a Boston College assistant from 1997-2006, but I didn't realize he had the recruiting acumen to sign two of the nation's top 10 prospects. Yes, it helped that Cooley already had connections with both Ricardo Ledo (the No. 8 prospect in the class) and Kris Dunn (No. 10). Ledo actually had de-committed from Providence after the firing of Keno Davis, but Cooley managed to bring him back into the fold. Dunn selected Providence over defending national champion Connecticut. Ledo and Dunn form the type of backcourt duo that eventually could make Providence at least a little more competitive with Connecticut on the floor.

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