Providence received the news it was dreading Wednesday evening when the NCAA ruled top recruit Ricardo Ledo academically ineligible to play next season.
Now the Friars have to hope Ledo will live up to his word and remain on campus long enough to don a Friars uniform during the 2013-14 season.
Ledo, Rivals.com's No. 6 recruit in the nation, told GoLocalProv.com earlier this week that he intends to stay at Providence no matter how the NCAA ruled, but there's no question he has other options if he loses patience practicing but not playing. He could play professionally overseas for a season, go to the D-League or even practice with Providence for the year before entering the NBA draft.
"I am happy to be a student at Providence College," Ledo said in a statement. "It has always been a dream of mine to represent PC and I am looking forward to my days as a student-athlete."
It would certainly allow Ledo to get some stability in his life if he stays at Providence for a couple years or more. He attended four different high schools the last five years for both academic and athletic reasons, making his transcript a challenge for NCAA officials to decipher.
Whether Ledo stays or goes will have a big impact on second-year Providence coach Ed Cooley's attempt to transform the Friars into Big East contenders. Cooley had hoped to have Providence in the NCAA tournament next season, but that goal seems more remote now with Ledo unable to play and fellow top recruit Kris Dunn out until January with an offseason shoulder injury.
Some of that's bad luck, but in Ledo's case it also may have contributed to Providence's ability to land him. Had Ledo not been an academic risk, elite programs who shied away from him probably would have recruited him harder.
Providence fans will have to be a bit more patient, but the Friars' future can still be bright. If Ledo, Dunn and NC State transfer Tyler Harris join potential returners Bryce Cotton and LaDontae Henton for the 2013-14 season, that's a nucleus that can not just scrape its way into the NCAA tournament but also do some damage there.