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The 12 Days of Big East-mas Season Preview: The DePaul University Blue Demons

DePaul Blue Demons

Record Last Season (Big East: 6-14 + T-9th Place, Overall: 15-16)

Last Year in Review

Head Coach Tony Stubblefield drastically improved this Blue Demon team, securing 15 wins last season. That's more wins in 12 of the last 14 season for DePaul. When breaking down their schedule, it's important (and impressive) to note that they did beat teams like Rutgers and Louisville.

Although finishing tied for 9th in the Big East, they made a jump in the conference, winning six games, which is higher than 11 of the past 13 years. They took down teams such as Seton Hall and Xavier (who were both ranked at the time), and Marquette (who soon after made the tournament).

Who’s Out?

I feel bad for DePaul fans because their departing players will be big voids on their team. Javon Freeman-Liberty (Chicago Bulls Exhibit-10 Contract), David Jones (St. John's), and Brandon Johnson (Graduated) were their top three scorers from last season, who also were their top three rebounders. Additionally, Courvoisier McCauley (Indiana State), a key member of the rotation transferred out as well. Freeman-Liberty will be the most missed, as the guard averaged a steady and impressive stat line of 21.7 PPG. / 7.3 REB. / 3.2 AST.

Who’s In?

DePaul will have a refreshed roster coming into the season, with seven new players joining in the mix. The biggest name of them all is Ahamad Bynum. A former Top-100 prospect who didn't play last season after eligibility issues. Incoming freshman, Zion Cruz, will be a key piece to the rotation. The 6-5 shooting guard is a natural scorer with great athleticism. The 4-Star Recruit had offers from across the country, including Creighton, Alabama, Indiana, and Illinois.

Joining DePaul from the transfer portal is Forward Da’Sean Nelson (JUCO Kilgore College), junior guard K.T. Raimey (JUCO College of Southern Idaho), senior forward Eral Penn (Long Island), senior guard Umoja Gibson (Oklahoma), and sophomore guard Caleb Murphy (South Florida).

Penn averaged 17.1 PPG and 7.4 RPB last season for Long Island. A very solid pickup to help fill the void. Same goes for Gibson, who started for the Sooners last year, averaged a productive 13.1 PPG. Caleb Murphy as well provided great stats for USF. Unfortunately, he underwent wrist surgery and will be reevaluated in 6 weeks. This is a major blow for the team. Expect Zion Cruz to get some more significant minutes until Murphy returns.

Who’s Back?

A guy who will be a key piece for DePaul, is returning senior center, Nick Ongenda. He averaged a career high 8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds while starting in 27 of his 30 appearances. He will need to make a big jump for this team in order for them to stay competitive. Junior guard, Jalen Terry, will also be returning, after averaging 8.2 PPG and 3.1 APG (2nd most on the team). Terry will provide solid depth to the backcourt, especially with Murphy out for a bit. Other returning members include senior guard Philmon Gebrewhit (4.8PPG / 2.2 RPG, 1.2 APG), senior forward Yor Anei (4.6PPG / 4.1 RPG, 0.4 APG), and senior forward Javan Johnson (7.1PPG / 2.2 RPG, 0.4 APG).

Projected Starters

  • G: Jalen Terry

  • G: Umoja Gibson

  • F: Javan Johnson

  • F: Eral Penn

  • C: Nick Ongenda

Final Thoughts

DePaul is projected dead last in the Big East Preseason Rankings. It's a tough conference to play in, no questions asked. It is even noted that this year might be the most competitive field of teams we've witnessed.

Did they get better? Who's to say. Although the conference got better, I think DePaul might surprise a few teams and pickup some games here and there. I don't think they are a top half team, but I don't see them finishing in last.

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