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2017 NCAA Tournament First Four: Providence Friars Players to Watch

Six Providence players to keep an eye on.

Providence v UNC-Chapel Hill Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Here are the six players to know when watching USC take on the Providence Friars in the 2017 NCAA Tournament First Four:

#5 Rodney Bullock 6’8” Forward, JR.

Bullock leads the Friars with 15.7 points per game he is also second on the team with 6.4 rebounds per game. Bullock was also named All-big East Second Team. Containing Bullock will go a long way toward advancing to Tulsa. Providence coach Ed Cooley stated in his press conference on Tuesday that Bullock would need to have an A-plus game if the Friars were going to advance.

#15 Emmitt Holt 6’7” Forward, JR.

Holt is scoring 12.4 points per game making him the second leading scorer in average points per game. Holt is also pulling down 5.2 rebounds per game. He is a transfer student-athlete and he is having an immediate impact in his first year with the team.

#24 Kyron Cartwright 5’11” Guard, JR.

Cartwright is the team point guard replacing Kris Dunn who went on to the NBA. Cartwright is averaging 11.4 points per game and 6.7 assists per game. Cartwright leads the entire Big East Conference in assists per game. He was also named Second Team All-Big East honors as well as named Big East Most Improved Player.

Providence coach Ed Cooley stated in his press conference on Tuesday that Cartwright as well as Bullock would need to have an A-plus game if the Friars were going to advance. Cartwright and Bullock are definitely the players to key in on when the Trojans are on defense but not entirely at the expense of everyone else.

#21 Jalen Lindsey 6’7” Guard, JR.

Linsey is putting up 10.5 points per game 4.4 rebounds per game. Lindsey is a solid contributor but his biggest contribution may be as a team leader. One major thing to keep an eye on is Lindsey’s 3-point shooting. The Trojans have struggled a bit in defending the 3. Lindsey leads the Friars in 3-point shooting. If he gets hot from behind the arc the Trojans could be in for a brutal game.

#11 Alpha Diallo 6’7” Guard, FR.

Diallo is the youngest starter for the Friars and is still finding his place on the team. He is only averaging 5.7 points per game and 3.2 rebounds but he has come on strong as of late and has recently begun putting up double digit points on a more consistent basis.

#44 Isaiah Jackson 6’7” Guard, SO.

Really the only major player off the Friars bench is Isaiah Jackson. Jackson is a solid 6th man scoring 5.7 points per game and 2.5 rebounds. For much of the season Jackson was good for roughly 2-5 points per game with the occasional big game sprinkled in. The Friars 6-game winning streak at the end of their season that vaulted them into the NCAA Tournament, however, marked a turning point for Jackson.

Jackson’s points per game saw a noted uptick during that six game run culminating in 18 points against St. John’s. In the Friars loss to Creighton ending their Big East tournament run, however, Jackson scored only 3 points. Jackson is capable of having big games against good teams. Do not be surprised if Jackson can make a significant contribution off the bench.

Where is the Friar’s bench?

As I’m sure you have noticed there are only 6 players here. That is because the Friars have little to no significant statistical contributions from their bench beyond Jackson. Therefore if any of the Providence starters get into foul trouble or have to deal with an injury then the Friars could be in a major bind. The necessity to avoid foul trouble may create major opportunities for Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright inside the paint on offense.

The Trojans are going to want to contain forward Rodney Bullock, disrupt point guard Kyron Cartwright, and not let Jalen Lindsey or anyone else get hot from behind the three point line. If one of the starting 5 for Providence has to go to the bench then the Trojans will want to press this advantage and not let Isaiah Jackson have a big game off the bench. Certainly this is a big challenge for the USC Trojans, but it is not an insurmountable one.