DePaul Blue Demons
Overall Rank: #107
Conference Rank: #13 Big East
2006-07: 20-14, 9-7, 7th (t)
2006-07 postseason: NIT
Considering the talent on the roster, DePaul really should have made a stronger push for the NCAA Tournament last year. There are more questions surrounding this year’s team, but the talent level is still relatively strong despite the loss of a slew of quality players. Another run at the bubble is not out of the question, but making the Big East Tournament should be the top priority, for now.
The early departure of Wilson Chandler, who was drafted 23rd overall, to the NBA leaves a big hole on the team. The dynamic 6-8 forward led the squad in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. Losing the other main scoring option in Sammy Mejia certainly will not soften the blow. Mejia, who ranked second on the team in points, boards and assists, was another vibrant player who helped the team on so many levels. Without those two, DePaul will have to be a little more normal and the big guys will get rebounds and the little guys will shoot. The frontcourt depth takes a huge hit with the loss of Marcus Heard, Lorenzo Thompson and Keith Butler. Heard, at 6-7, was not really a big man and could step outside and hit the long ball, but outside of Chandler and Mejia, he was the main rebounding threat. Thompson started 22 games but spent most of his time on the bench. Butler at least provided another big man, but his minutes were also quite limited.
All those loses means that Coach Jerry Wainwright better big in some quality bigs to shore up the now non-existent frontcourt. And he sure did. Center Mac Koshwal is the star of the class and is expected to be a big time player right away. The Chicago product is a monster on the glass and a great finisher. His post moves will develop with time, but as long as he can be somewhat productive in the paint, Koshwal will get the opportunity to be the star of the team as a freshman. Power forward Matija Poscic is the more polished option after spending some time at the junior college level and should be a solid contributor off the bench. Fellow Croatian Mario Stula will spend most of his time on the perimeter, but could help address the depth concerns up front with his 6-7, 210 pound frame. Small forward Darquavis Tucker will give Koshwal some competition for the best newcomer. The 6-5 wing is a superb athlete and, in the mold of Mejia, will do more than his fair share of rebounding. The Flint, Michigan product will not blow anybody away with his shooting, but he will get to the basket with ease and has the ability to rack up a whole lot of points. Point guard Michael Bizoukas is unlikely to make a huge impact this year, but he is a smart point guard who can develop into a solid contributor with a little time on the weight bench.
Who to Watch:
With a plethora of other scoring options on the floor, Jabari Currie rarely had an opportunity to display his scoring prowess. Instead, during his first two years at DePaul, Currie developed into a solid point guard. This year, he may be asked to reach back to his high school days and do a little of both. However, it is Draelon Burns who will handle a bulk of the scoring. The 6-4 senior drastically increased his shooting percentage from long range last year and, with another year of improvement, Burns will be able to handle being the go to scorer for the Blue Demons. Karron Clarke will fight hard for the starting gig at small forward. He is a decent scorer and long range shooter and has enough size to help out at power forward if that becomes a problem. Will Walker and Cliff Clinkscales both earned starts last year and have the potential to become bigger contributors.
The problem is experience in the frontcourt. Wesley Green has yet to live up to his potential. The 6-9 senior averaged 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds during the 2006-2007 campaign and, if he finally takes the next step, Green could develop into more than just a roleplayer. This group has the potential to be a surprise team in the Big East. For that to happen, Koshwal, Poscic and Tucker have to live up to their potential and Burns must develop into a consistent go-to scorer. That could happen, but rarely do so many new faces come together so easily.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Jabari Currie, Junior, Guard, 3.7 points per game
Draelon Burns, Senior, Guard, 11.6 points per game
Darquavis Tucker, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Karron Clarke, Senior, Forward, 6.6 points per game
Mac Koshwal, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season