The Evolution of Kyron Cartwright Parallels Providence’s SurgePosted by Eugene Rapay on March 9th, 2017
Heading into the season, there wasn’t much to expect from Providence. The Friars had just said their early goodbyes to all-Big East talents Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, both of whom were drafted by the NBA. They were projected to finish ninth in the Big East, a prediction that was attributed to significant roster shakeup and a number of reserves stepping into bigger roles for the first time. Junior point guard Kyron Cartwright was one of those players next in line, facing the burden of not only becoming a first-time starter but also the pressure of being Dunn’s successor.
At first, he and the Friars lived up to their low expectations. Ed Cooley’s squad feasted on a weak non-conference schedule that featured nine teams outside of the RPI top 100, finishing 10-3 against those teams. This included a 2-2 showing against the four top-tier opponents, beating Vermont and Rhode Island but losing to Ohio State and Virginia. It also included an embarrassing road loss to Boston College just before Big East play began.
During non-conference play, Cartwright only averaged 8.5 points per game but proved to be a capable facilitator, averaging 7.6 assists to just 2.7 turnovers per game. As Providence has surged over the second half of the Big East season, so too has its junior leader. He has sustained his early impact as a distributor, averaging 6.8 assists per game on the season while also catching up as a scorer. And in averaging 13.3 points per game during Big East play, he’s posting the highest shooting percentages of his three years at Providence (41.4% FG, 38.7% 3FG). A player who has primarily been known as a slasher — using his quickness and savvy crossover moves to find space — has added a solid mid-range game to his arsenal as well. Cartwright doesn’t pull up from deep very often, but even there he is beginning to capitalize on open opportunities.
Sure, the Friars’ six-game winning streak to finish the regular season was predicated on more than a one-man show — fellow all-Big East Second Teamer Rodney Bullock, transfer Emmitt Holt, and sharp-shooter Jalen Lindsey have each contributed to Providence’s momentum in significant ways — but the Friars’ success begins and ends with the player who gets the ball in their hands.
In a year of success that nobody saw coming, the evolution of Cartwright as a leader and playmaker for the Friars has made all the difference. Can he continue on this path and spark another deep Big East Tournament run for Cooley’s squad. We’ll find out beginning this evening.