It was Team Rio University’s final AAU basketball event of the 2021 summer season. On hand was Providence head coach Ed Cooley, who personally delivered a scholarship offer to Team Rio’s top high school prospect from the Class of 2022.
For Jayden Pierre, the course of action taken by Cooley struck a chord as the 6-foot-2 point guard delved deeper into the recruiting process. The University of Minnesota may have been the frontrunner to land Pierre, yet like a thoroughbred making the pivotal final turn, the Friars were closing in fast.
“If the head coach offers, that must mean he really wants you,” said Pierre when reached Sunday night not long after taking to social media to announce that he would be joining PC beginning with the 2022-23 season. “That means the whole staff is onboard from the top on down. It was big, for sure.”
Added Mike Rice, Team Rio head coach, “Getting an offer from the head coach verifies and certifies everything that Jayden has put into his game. Physically, he’s a late bloomer and still not nearly what he’s going to be in the next year or two. He’s still continuing to grow.”
What the Friars are getting is a certified floor general who’s not afraid to play above the rim. Pierre is also the rare player who did not change his high school graduation year by reclassifying. He’ll enter his senior year at Long Island Lutheran (NY).
“A point guard should always look to attack … getting by guys and setting up your teammates,” said Pierre. “Having the ball in my hands, I thrive on getting shots for my teammates and also myself.”
“You watch the small things he does for his teammates – his change of pace and creativity – and you get a better appreciation of what this young man can do,” said Rice.
Per Rice, PC’s antenna was raised concerning Pierre after assistant coach Jeff Battle watched him compete in an AAU tournament that was held in Atlanta. Competing in the same grassroots event was Quante Berry, a fellow Friar ‘22 commit who was hooping it up with the Bobby Maze Elite program.
“He probably had a 20-point/10-assist/10 rebound-type of game. That’s when Coach Battle came to me and asked about Jayden’s recruitment,” said Rice. It just built from there … the comfort level of recognizing just how good Jayden was as someone who plays both ends of the floor as hard as he possibly can.”
Minnesota was still the leader in the clubhouse to land Pierre before he took his official visit to PC two weekends ago.
“It’s a small campus and a tight environment like a family. I got to see how tight everyone is,” said Pierre. “I felt (PC) and Minnesota were two great spots. I had to weigh where I saw myself taking my game to the next level. I feel like I can do that the best at Providence.”
“Minnesota was so far ahead in the lead. He was going to Providence to take another visit to compare,” said Rice. “Then Coach Cooley came in with his culture and family-like atmosphere. Jayden was blown away by the genuine like that the players had for the staff and not just Ed. Growing up around the Big East footprint and watching all the great guards that Ed has had, it just snowballed.”
Pierre hails from the same AUU program that produced current Friar freshman Rafael Castro. Officially, Pierre informed Cooley and the Friar staff of his decision late last week.
“Coach Battle and Coach Cooley were on the phone when I told them. Everyone was excited that I’m now part of the Friar family,” said Pierre.
“With COVID and the transfer portal, recruiting turned itself upside down. It was hard on Jayden’s class. He didn’t come in with the hype of a top player. That was okay. He was another dog and he plays that role really well,” said Rice. “He showed everyone what he could do and how bright his future is. He’s going to PC to win a Big East Championship.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03