Trying to replace Providence legend Kris Dunn is certainly not for the faint of heart.
It’s an incredibly tough job, but somebody has to do it. And the player tasked with that unenviable job is Friars junior guard Kyron Cartwright.
While Friar fans should not expect Cartwright to seamlessly fill in for Dunn and provide similar production, some might still be selling short what Cartwright can do for a young team in transition.
In his time at Providence, Cartwright has shown to be a capable player in his own right. He is coming off a sophomore season in which he averaged 5.9 points and 4 assists in 24.2 minutes per game behind Dunn.
That’s some good per-minute production. You extrapolate those numbers with Cartwright getting well over 30 minutes a game—which he should be in line for this season—and the sky is the limit.
That sentiment was shared by Providence coach Ed Cooley.
While speaking with Cooley at Big East media day, he felt as though Cartwright was in for huge season.
“I expect Kyron to lead the league in assists,” Cooley said about Cartwright’s role. “I expect his numbers offensively to triple. I think he has the chance to be an all-conference guard.”
That is a lot of confidence Cooley has in Cartwright, but it just goes to show that Cartwright is someone we should be have our eyes glued on.
While it’s natural for a coach to have blind confidence in his players while building up their confidence, this may not be just “coach speak.”
Providence coach Ed Cooley expects a big season from his JR guard: "I think the most improved player in the league will be Kyron Cartwright"
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) October 11, 2016
With Providence losing both Dunn and Ben Bentil, some players on the Friars will have to step up and Cartwright is certainly one of them.
We already know that Rodney Bullock (who averaged a respectable 11.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last year while playing second fiddle to Dunn and Bentil) can provide some stability for the Friars. Bullock is in fact the only player returning to average more than seven points per game.
Cooley also has some talented wild cards in returnees Jalen Lindsey, Ryan Fazekas and Drew Edwards and newcomers Alpha Diallo, Emmitt Holt, and George Mason transfer Isaiah Jackson.
What Cooley needs most, though, is an established ringleader to gather the troops and be a calm, cooling voice for the team.
That’s where Cartwright comes in.
Playing two seasons behind Dunn, Cartwright no doubt learned a great deal of valuable lessons. Cartwright patiently bided his time while waiting for his chance.
His time is now.
Again, he is not as talented as Dunn. But what Cartwright has done, is get better and better each and every season.
Cartwright is a shifty guard who loves to penetrate the lane. His driving ability allows him to get the basket with relative ease. Cartwright can score for himself, just as well as set up for his teammates.
Also helping matters is Cartwright getting some competition at lead guard from incoming freshman Maliek White.
White, a four-star recruit according to 247Sports, is another headstrong point guard who Cooley can count on. White can dial it up from deep, but as a freshman, expect there to be some bumps along the way.
Look for White to push Cartwright in practice and that eventually leading to better production from Cartwright. The competition from Cartwright probably made Dunn a better player.
Anticipate Cooley using White the same way he used Cartwright behind Dunn. Thus, expect Cartwright to pass the baton in two years to White.
With the season set to commence this weekend—Providence will open at home against Vermont on Saturday—the Friars are something of an unknown team in the Big East.
Many pundits are predicting them to take a step back. Maybe that will be the case, but there is some decent talent Cooley is working with. That said, a lot has to break right for the Friars, but they at least have a path for success.
It all starts with Cartwright at the top and as he takes on the role of leader and exhibits confidence along the way, look for that confidence to spread among his teammates. Quite simply, it is shaping up to be a career year for Cartwright.