|Ed Cooley and Providence were hoping for the services of five-star freshmen Kris Dunn and Ricky Ledo. (US Presswire)|
NEW YORK -- Providence expected to have one of the most explosive backcourts around this season, with freshmen Kris Dunn and Ricky Ledo teaming with all-around stud Vincent Council and scorer Bryce Cotton to form a potent perimeter.
Then the bad news started coming. Dunn tore his labrum in late June and needed shoulder surgery, and the NCAA ruled Ledo ineligible to play in games this season.
For a team with only seven other healthy and eligible scholarship players, the two losses were huge.
“We could use them right now,” coach Ed Cooley said.
Dunn, a 6-foot-3 New London (Conn.) product, was ranked as the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2012. His quickness and scoring ability would have been a major asset next to Council.
For now, he's out for at least the first half of the season.
“Kris is coming along,” Cooley said. “Emotionally, he's a little bit beat up, since he's never been this situation. He's out of his sling, and he's made the best of it.”
The doctors have said Dunn should be able to return in December or January, but it depends on his recovery. Cooley mentioned the chance that Dunn would have to redshirt, if he decides it's not worth it to rush him back from injury.
“It's a possibility. But I'm trying to get him for every Big East game. I need him,” Cooley said. “But I'm in it for the long haul.”
If Dunn is able to return, Cooley said he would pair him with Council (15.9 ppg, 7.4 apg) on the court at the same time. The two play the same position but are also the most talented players in the rotation.
After playing nearly 39 minutes per game last season, Council could use the ball-handling break too.
“I'll call timeout to rest them,” Cooley said, before pointing out that it's unclear where Dunn will be in his recovery come Big East play. “Kris doesn't even know what it's like to be in practice.”
As for Ledo, the Friars were expecting an immediate scoring boost from the 6-foot-7 shooting guard. Ranked No. 18 in the class of 2012 -- and the No. 5 player at his position -- Ledo is one of the most difficult players in the country to stop when he's focused.
“He's still motivated, but of course he's disappointed he couldn't play right away,” Cooley said. “He needs us the most right now; he doesn't really need us when he's on the court.”
For the next six months, Ledo has to settle for being a stud during practice.
“We play against potential pros every single night,” Cooley said. “He helps us prepare for that, because he brings a lot to the table.”
It looks like Council, whom Cooley said he would take over everyone in the country, and Cotton will be back to playing 39 minutes per game. At least for now.
Come next year, Cooley hopes to be talking about the Dunn-Ledo tandem in terms of actual impact -- not just hypotheticals and what-ifs.
“I think we can have the best backcourt in the country,” he said.