Kevin McSports

Friars add a Dude with return of Christ Essandoko

Friars add a Dude with return of Christ Essandoko

PC adds former committed recruit who spent this past season at Saint Joseph’s (Photo: Sideline Photos)


We are beginning to see just who constitutes a ‘Dude’ in the eyes of Providence coach Kim English.

The Friar mentor promised to assemble a roster stocked with ’13 dudes’ after a late-season loss and his first two trips into the transfer portal offer some guidance on that front. A week after adding burly, veteran guard Bensley Joseph from Miami, the Friars secured a commitment from 7-foot, 280-pound Christ Essandoko from Saint Joseph’s.

Now Essandoko’s name (his first name is pronounced Creest) should be a familiar one to Providence fans. He verbally committed to play for Ed Cooley back in the summer of 2021 but never enrolled. Issues with the TOEFL, or test of English as a foreign language, jeopardized the Paris, France native’s chances to come to Providence. Instead he landed at Saint Joe’s and sat out the 2022-23 season as a redshirt.

Essandoko worked his way from 320 pounds to 280 during his season sitting and watching the Atlantic 10 and he did notice a few things along the way. One was the physicality of college basketball and the importance of being in shape. Another was a young coach at George Mason who used his big man, Josh Oduro, as a scorer.

“I remember watching the games being the last player on the bench; I was frustrated. I was frustrated because I felt I was letting my teammates down,” Christ told the last October. “The first five games were bad. I wanted to be on the court. I had to tell myself ‘It’s God’s plan, it’s God’s plan.’ That was it. I had to be patient.

“These last two years have been hard. I never watched basketball in my life. The experience humbled me. That’s the main lesson I learned. I had to come back to earth and had to settle in. By December, it sunk in that I could not be upset about the NCAA rules. I put my head down and went to work.”

Essandoko improved in his redshirt season under coach Billy Lange, a former 76’ers assistant coach. Even before his big man stepped on the floor for the Hawks and averaged 8.2 points on 50% shooting and grabbed 5.7 rebounds over 21.1 minutes a game, Lange praised Essandoko’s upside.

 “If he reminds me of anyone, I would say Christ’s competitiveness, and I want to make sure this is correct – strictly on competitiveness – he reminds me of Joel Embiid,” Lange told CityofBasketballLove. “I am not saying he is going to be the next Joel Embiid. I have to stress that it is Christ’s competitiveness that reminds me of Embiid.”

Essandoko’s progression from his time at Winston-Salem (N.C.) Christian to his arrival at Providence is dramatic. He’s not only matured physically but he was a reported strong student at Saint Joseph’s. On the court, he battled a toe injury and saw his playing time and usage rate waver but enjoyed some breakout games. He scores well inside with his quick feet and stepped out and made 14 three-point shots. The big man is also a skilled passer who finished with 38 assists.

He helped push Kentucky into overtime early in the season with 9 points and 9 rebounds and by mid-January was ready for a 21-point/12-rebound effort vs. Duquesne. In a season-ending loss to Seton Hall in the NIT, the big man played a season-high 37 minutes and delivered with 14 points and 8 rebounds.

Essandoko drew inquiries from an array of schools once he hit the portal, according to internet reports. Kansas, Creighton, Florida, Villanova, Butler, Georgetown, Missouri, N.C. State, St. John’s, Texas, Seton Hall, Arizona State, Boston College and Xavier were among the schools mentioned.

At Providence, Essandoko will slot into a likely starting role in a competitive frontcourt that includes 7-foot-2 junior college addition Anton Bonke and 6-9 jumping-jack Oswin Erhunmwunse, who is expected to reclassify and be a freshman at PC in the fall.

Bryce Hopkins will certainly lead the forward spot at Providence in 2024-25 with Rich Barron and 6-9 Eli DeLaurier adding even more size. The Friars now have 11 players slotted into the mix, leaving two very critical openings. English and his staff will now turn their sights to wing scorers where only Barron, Corey Floyd and injury redshirt Justyn Fernandez own any collegiate experience. 



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