Will McNair Jr. leaves Providence basketball; 6-9 center Eli DeLaurier commits to Friars

Providence lost and added some frontcourt depth over the span of 24 hours this week.

Will McNair Jr. is out and Eli DeLaurier is in, as the Friars swapped a graduate transfer from Mississippi State for a freshman who will reclassify and enroll immediately.

McNair’s departure was reported Tuesday by recruiting website On3, as he left Providence during the first full week of fall classes. DeLaurier announced his commitment via his personal Instagram account, as the Virginia native passed up a planned year with Overtime Elite.

McNair was a paint option who spent previous time with New Mexico State and with the Bulldogs. He was expected to be among the backups for starting center Josh Oduro, who followed new Friars coach Kim English from George Mason. Rafael Castro was also vying for minutes behind or alongside Oduro, and it appears he won out in a competition with McNair.

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Will McNair Jr., shown playing for Mississippi State last season, had committed to Providence this summer but entered the transfer portal this week.
Will McNair Jr., shown playing for Mississippi State last season, had committed to Providence this summer but entered the transfer portal this week.

DeLaurier is a top-115 prospect in his class, according to 247Sports. He also claimed offers from the likes of Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and others. The 6-foot-9-inch center has spent time with The Miller School, Moravian Prep and on the grassroots circuit with Team Loaded.

“After being offered and having an outstanding visit, I am proud to announce that I am re-classing to the class of 2023 and committing to Providence,” DeLaurier wrote. “I have been able to build a strong relationship with Coach English and the entire coaching staff over the past year and a half.”

McNair was solid during Providence’s three-game trip to Spain last month. The Friars finished a perfect 3-0 and McNair came off the bench in each victory. He totaled 10 points and 11 rebounds against the Madrid All-Stars, six points and six rebounds against Valencia and 12 points and seven rebounds against the Catalonia All-Stars.

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Castro was more explosive against Providence’s three opponents. He averaged 10.7 points and 9.7 rebounds while shooting 14-for-17 from the field. He’s been a little-used reserve through two seasons with the Friars but could be poised for a larger role entering his junior season.

McNair was a transfer addition from the Bulldogs who averaged 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 2022-23. He’s a Philadelphia native who played for the same grassroots program as former Providence forward Ed Croswell. DeLaurier joins a freshman class that also includes lead guard Garwey Dual, wing guard Rich Barron and wing forward Donovan Santoro.

"We have a good mix of veteran players and talented underclassmen this season," English said in a statement. "We believe that Eli will add to that skill level and he also will add to our strong team chemistry."

DeLaurier carries a noteworthy name when it comes to college basketball history. His older brother is Javin DeLaurier, a four-year player at Duke. His mother, C'ta, was a star at Rutgers in the early 1990s.

Oduro could feature in a starting lineup with Jayden Pierre, Devin Carter, Bryce Hopkins and Ticket Gaines. Carter and Hopkins were mainstays as Providence reached the NCAA Tournament last spring. Oduro and Gaines were teammates with the Patriots and Pierre could step into a larger role after playing bench minutes as a freshman.

The Friars hold two commitments in their Class of 2024 from point guard Daquan Davis and small forward Ryan Mela. They’re expected to receive a visit this month from shooting guard Isaiah Elohim, a New York native and high school teammate of Bronny James. Elohim was invited to the summer’s NBPA Top 100 Camp and is also involved with the likes of Villanova, Arkansas, USC and others.  

On Twitter: @BillKoch25 

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: At Providence basketball, Will McNair Jr. is out, Eli DeLaurier is in