There was an expectation that the Providence Friars would have a Big East Player of the Year-caliber talent on their roster this season. That player was assumed to be junior forward Bryce Hopkins. The Preseason All-Big East First Team selection was playing up to that level through his first 14 outings, averaging 15.5 points and 8.6 rebounds with five double-doubles to his credit. Things were going according to plan until Hopkins tore his left ACL on January 3 against Seton Hall.
Providence’s Devin Carter Is Elevating His Game Without Hopkins
The expectation of suiting up an all-league player feels like it’s only become more of a reality, however, since the Friars lost Hopkins for the season. Providence’s junior guard Devin Carter was playing some of his best basketball in tandem with Hopkins before the injury but has only upped his game in the last three weeks, propelling himself into the mix with the league’s best players.
After averaging 9.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and shooting 26.7% from behind the arc in his freshman season at South Carolina, Carter – like Hopkins – took a sizable step forward in his first season at Providence last year. Hopkins transferred from Kentucky, where he only averaged 6.5 minutes and 2.1 points before transforming himself with the Friars.
Carter reached All-Big East Honorable Mention honors last season and again in the preseason poll. With top-three scoring and rebounding outputs in the Big East this season, however, Carter is working on reserving a much more exclusive table for himself this March.
Carter Is Among the Big East’s Best
Scoring 18.0 points and grabbing 8.2 rebounds per game, Carter ranks second and third in the Big East in each category. Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman is the only other Big East player in the top five in both areas.
Leading up to the Hopkins injury, Carter had scored 16.2 points per game and only eclipsed 20 points in three of the 13 games. However, the former South Carolina transfer has played on another level in the five games since. Averaging 22.6 points over that span, Carter tied his career-high in scoring the first game without Hopkins. His 25-point, 10-rebound effort was impressive enough before he topped it in his second game without Hopkins. In a January 10 game against St. John’s, Carter logged a career-high 31 points to pair with 13 rebounds.
Carter is also one of the top defensive guards in the Big East. The junior is tied with Preseason Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek, who has 1.6 steals per game and ranks fifth in the conference. Carter’s 0.9 blocks per game is one of the few numbers that’s down from a season ago (1.1 in 2022-23). He still holds the 12th-best mark in the Big East.
Turning Providence Around
Despite Carter’s individual success, Providence has fallen off significantly since losing Hopkins. The Friars lost four straight before putting things back on track this week. Losses to Seton Hall, Creighton, St. John’s and Xavier sunk them to 2-4 in Big East play. They were served a 100-62 layup at DePaul to end the skid. The Friars then picked up a gutsy win at Seton Hall on Wednesday.
Less than halfway through conference play, their story is far from written, but they have work to do. What would have been a soft landing hosting Georgetown on Saturday has quickly turned into their most important game yet. This game has been circled for nearly a year for Friars fans. Former head coach Ed Cooley made his return after fleeing for the Georgetown job at the end of last season. Providence was able to take care of Georgetown, winning 84-76.
Providence will visit the No. 1 UConn Huskies on January 31 and host No. 17 Creighton a week later.