‘Grateful to be in this situation’: Englishman relishes Providence’s opportunity

A new era is underway at Providence College, and based on Kim English’s attendance at the introductory press conference, Friartown is more than excited about what the future holds.

More than 1,000 people, including fans, coaches, members of the sports administration, as well as former and current players, filled the Mullaney Gym at Alumni Hall, as the 34-year-old Englishman was introduced Wednesday as the 16th head coach in Providence men’s basketball history.

“This gym looked like this for a press conference…not a game, not Midnight Madness, not a scrum, but a press conference,” English said. “The hunger of these fans…that’s something I’ve never seen.”

English, who has spent the past two seasons as George Mason’s head coach and just steered the program to its first 20-win season in six years, joined college basketball reporter FOX Sports , John Fanta, to discuss his new role and the upcoming opportunity. .

“Coach Cooley left an incredible base here, and I’m really grateful to come into this,” said English. “I’m at a loss for words to say what an opportunity this is in a place that I think is really, really special.”

Providence were targeting English shortly after former head coach Ed Cooley left for Georgetown after 12 seasons. The two sides reached an agreement last week, with former Providence and current Tennessee coach Rick Barnes helping to push the decision forward, playing a key role in the hire.

(Exclusive: Ed Cooley explains why he left Providence for Georgetown)

The English has a strong friendship with Barnes, serving as an assistant coach under him at Tennessee from 2019-21.

“He always talked about Providence and always said how special his time here was,” English said of Barnes. “He’s a great mentor. Our relationship got really close when I was in Knoxville, and it’s still going.”

One of English’s first tasks is recruiting, which includes convincing current Providence players to stay with the program.

English took to social media on Tuesday, posting an Instagram Live video of himself and current Brothers keeper Jayden Pierre – who announced his decision to enter the transfer portal on Tuesday – playing in the lead- one-on-one at the team’s training facility. According to the message, English made a bet with Pierre that if he beat the freshman guard, Pierre would have to stay and remove his name from the portal.

Pierre accepted the challenge and lost, much to English’s delight.

“Head to head for the portal, and I won,” English said in the Instagram Live video recording. “I want him to stay in Providence.”

Pierre is not the only player that the English recruited to join him in Providence. In his first week on the job, he has already secured commitments from Justyn Fernandez and Josh Oduro, who will follow him to Providence from George Mason.

Oduro led the Patriots in both scoring and rebounding last season, with 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Fernandez has been pivotal for the team off the bench as a true rookie, averaging 4.1 points in 14.1 minutes per game.

In addition to adding Fernandez and Oduro, Providence guards Alyn Breed and Corey Floyd Jr. have both confirmed they plan to stay with the program, while several other players are currently deciding their future plans.

“I love their tenacity and I love their competitiveness,” English said of the players he was able to retain. “I think there’s a really good advantage in these guys.”

English is excited about what lies ahead for this Providence program and left Wednesday’s introductory press conference feeling the love and support of the Friar Nation.

“Kentucky fans are awesome. Kansas fans are awesome. Everyone knows that,” English said. “I had no idea, at this level, how invested Providence fans are in this school and this basketball team. It makes me really happy. I want to do it for them.”

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