Two seasons ago, Bryce Cotton was a freshman garnering a shade over 15 minutes per outing off the bench for a mediocre Providence Friars squad.
Fast forward to the present, however, and the 6’1”, 165-pound Cotton boasts the nation’s fifth-highest scoring average.
It is a meteoric rise that the Tucson, Ariz., native himself did not see coming.
“I don’t think anybody can really envision the success they’re going to have,” said Cotton, who enters the weekend averaging 21.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, as reported by courier-journal.com. “I’m sure a lot of people believe good things are coming their way, but, honestly, I didn’t see it coming to this extent, this fast.”
Cotton, who signed with the Friars out of Pale Verde High School (Ariz.) in 2010, has net at least 20 points in eight of the past nine contests in which he has played and ranks eighth among Big East players in three-point marksmanship at 41.7 percent.
While Cotton has indeed been the straw that stirs second-year head coach attack Ed Cooley’s offensive attack this year, he is flanked by talent in the back and front court.
Senior guard Vincent Council, a preseason All-Big East First Team selection and Providence’s leading scorer a season ago, missed 10 of the Friars’ first 11 contests due to a hamstring tear, but enters his team’s matchup against Marquette on Saturday averaging 13.0 points, 6.0 assists and 2.0 steals per outing.
For his career, the 6’2”, 180-pound Council, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., holds per game averages of 12.5 points (headlined by a career-best 15.9 ppg during the 2011-12 campaign en route to garnering Third Team All-Big East accolades), 6.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
The 6’10” Batts, a junior hailing from Powder Springs, Ga., ranks second on the Friars in scoring (14.5 ppg), rebounding (7.3 rpg), field goal percentage (50.5 percent) and enters the weekend four days removed from his best all-around performance in league play this season: 17 points (on 8-of-12 shooting), nine rebounds and two steals in the Friars’ home loss to Pitt.
A big body down low, Batts is not afraid to draw contact and get to the line, as evident in the 100 free throws (trailing only Cotton on the Providence roster) he has attempted this year, including a 13-of-15 showing against Penn State on November 16.
While his play has been hot and cold over the past two months (17.8 ppg and 6.6 rpg in December; 11.7 ppg and 7.0 rpg in January), Batts is an efficient scorer in the paint and has the potential to cause headaches from start to finish.
Complimenting Batts is the 6’6”, 215-pound Henton.
Henton, a sophomore business management major, has certainly managed his business well on the hardwood this season.
The conference’s third-leading rebounder (8.1 rpg), Henton has seven double-doubles to his name this season and has snared at least ten rebounds in nearly half of Friars’ contests.
Although efficient underneath the basket, Henton also possesses the ability to get hot from beyond the arc—although consistency has been an issue.
Entering Saturday, Henton is connecting on 25.0 percent of his three-point attempts, including four triples in seven conference games. However, the Lansing, Mich., native torched the Brown Bears for six three pointers on Dec. 28 en route to scoring a career-high 37 points, and has drained multiple three-point baskets on six occasions this season.
However, even though not devoid of talent, the Friars, who opened the season at 8-2, come to the Brew City having dropped seven of its past nine contests while eclipsing the 70-point plateau only once over the past four weeks.
Preceding narrow losses to Pitt and Villanova (by three and four points, respectively) in its past two outings, the Friars, 12th among league affiliates in scoring (68.3 ppg)and 13th in field goal accuracy (42.1 percent), have been upended by nearly eight points per game since falling to Boston College on December 22.
Will the trend continue on Saturday afternoon? The Marquette Golden Eagles (13-4, 4-1), winners in eight of their past ten games and boasting a 19-game home winning streak, will aim to ensure that it does.
Tipoff between the Golden Eagles and Friars (10-9, 2-5) at the BMO Harris Bradley Center is slated for 1:00p.m. CST.