NBA Draft Approaches For Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton

One thing all Friar fans know is to never count Bryce Cotton out.

That's the motto for his entire basketball life. Everyone knows the story by now of how Cotton was about to enroll in local Pimo Community College after not having a single Division I basketball scholarship offer when he got a call from then PC assistant coach, Chris Davis. He was at PC a week later and classes started a few days after that.

What has transpired over these last 4 years has been a microcosm of that same theme.

Cotton came to Providence with a hitch in his jumpshot and was a liability handling the basketball at the Big East level. He played a modest 15.3 minutes per game that first year while averaging 4 points per game, 1.5 rebounds per game and 0.5 assists per game. Keno Davis and his entire coaching staff got the boot after that season.

Enter Ed Cooley.

Cooley, recognizing the tremendous amount of work Cotton did on his shooting stroke that offseason, combined with the fact that he was losing all of Marshon Brooks' scoring to the NBA, began to try to grow Bryce's confidence in himself and his shooting ability. Cooley could regularly be heard yelling at Bryce to shoot the ball - during games. Improving his scoring from 4 points per game to over 14 points per game was a fairly substantial leap for Cotton. His playing time also made a big jump from 15 to over 38 minutes per game.

Then after the season that saw Cotton lead the Big East in minutes per game, the shocking news came that Cotton had asked for his release and was looking to transfer closer to home. At the time, I can remember some fans, while shocked, not thinking it would be a big deal to replace an undersized shooting guard. Thankfully, Cotton decided to stay in Friartown. He would go on to increase his scoring output each of the next two seasons, capping off his career with a Big East Tournament championship, where he was named the tournament Most Outstanding Player, an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where he scored a career high 36 points against blue blood North Carolina, being named to the First Team All-BIG EAST, a Lute Olson All-America Team member, NBCSports.com's Second Team All-American, Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press, NABC All-District 5 First Team and USBWA All-District 1 First Team.

Soon after the season came to an end against the Tar Heels, Cotton began grueling workouts with former Friar point guard and current undergraduate assistant coach, God Shammgod to begin preparation for workouts with NBA teams with hopes of hearing his name called at the Barclays Center on June 26th.

From all reports these last weeks, the chances of that happening are picking up steam.

Cotton has done something notable at almost every workout he has attended. In Sacramento, he broke a shooting record by hitting 15 consecutive 3 pointers in 53 seconds. He beat the old record by 5 seconds. In Boston, he did the second most full court laps ever recorded (28) in the infamous Boston Marathon drill. At a recent workout for the Washington Wizards, Bryce recorded a 44 inch vertical leap. The Wizards have never had anyone with a 44 inch vertical in the history of their workouts. Just for good measure, Bryce followed that up by recording another 44 inch vertical in Memphis soon after he did it in Washington. Per a team source at one recent workout, "he impressed the entire staff with his point guard skills." Another team source from another recent workout was "impressed that he has several ways to score...and appears to do it effortlessly." That team was also impressed with his maturity and the efficiency with which he ran the offense and distributed the ball. But maybe the most telling thing came after one of Cotton's first workouts. The GM of the team took Bryce's agent aside and told him that he needed to get Bryce in front of as many NBA people as possible for an interview because you cannot help but like Bryce Cotton. "You just want to give this kid a hug and he has the perfect balance of humility and confidence," said the GM.

In addition to all of that, Cotton is a young senior at only 21 years of age. That's something that will work in his favor with NBA teams.

From all reports, Cotton has impressed teams at every stop. He has been so impressive that other teams are hearing about it and are desperately trying to get him to come in for a workout before the 26th. Unfortunately, there just isn't enough time to get them all in. Some teams have had to be turned away because he is already booked. Even recent mock drafts are now showing Cotton among the drafted. Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico has Bryce going to Milwaukee with the 48th pick, CBS Sports' Gary Parrish has Bryce going to Denver with the 56th pick and ESPN's Chad Ford has Bryce going to Indiana with the 57th pick.

It appears his final workout will be a return trip to Sacramento on Tuesday. I wonder if he will try to get a chance to break his own shooting record?

But on Thursday night, Bryce plans to be at home surrounded by family and friends as he waits to see what city this basketball journey will take him to next.

It's been a long journey from Tucson to Providence but the next stop is the NBA for Bryce Cotton.

You can find more of Mike's work on his site, pcbb1917.com and you can also follow him on Twitter @pcbb1917.

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