Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series. Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days. We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
The DePaul Blue Demons have been to the Big East what the Pittsburgh Pirates have been to the NL Central in recent years. While the Pirates have come out of nowhere to be division contenders this season, second year head coach Oliver Purnell has a lot of work to do as he continues his overhaul of the Blue Demon roster. I give them this though, I actually have two Big East teams ranked lower than them!
Projected Depth Chart
C: Krys Faber (Sr)/Darrell Robertson (Fr)
PF: Cleveland Melvin (So)/Donnovan Kirk (So)/Montray Clemons (Fr)
SF: Tony Freeland (Jr)/Moses Morgan (So)/Jamee Crockett (Fr)
G: Jeremiah Kelly (Sr)/Macari Brooks (Fr)/Charles McKinney (Fr)
PG: Brandon Young (So)
Gone: G/F-Mike Stovall, SG-Jimmy Drew, F-Mario Stula, PG-Michael Bizoukis (transfer-Missouri State), PF-Devin Hill (transfer-Loyola), SF-Eric Wallace (transfer-Seattle U.), C-Kene Obi (transfer-Oklahoma Baptist)
2-52. That is DePaul’s record in the Big East the past three seasons. Oliver Purnell was brought in last summer to change the culture at DePaul and restore respectability to the once proud program. While the Blue Demons were again the laughing stock of the Big East in 2010-11, Purnell is starting to bring in his own recruits and bringing optimism to the direction of the team.
One of the bright spots last season was the play of Big East Rookie of the Year, Cleveland Melvin. The skilled forward was Purnell’s first signing and led DePaul in scoring. He and fairly stiff big man Krys Faber will start up-front while freshmen Darrell Robertson and Montray Clemons will need to provide depth until Miami transfer Donnovan Kirk becomes eligible after the first semester.
Point guard Brandon Young experienced growing pains during his freshman season but also showed a ton of promise. He figures to share the starting backcourt with senior Jeremiah Kelly who was the team’s top three-point threat. Tony Freeland starts at the three while sophomore Moses Morgan figures to factor into the equation as well. Freeland is athletic and more physical than most small forwards but is a non-factor from beyond the arc.
When Purnell was hired, one of the expectations is that he would put a fence around the Chicagoland area and keep as many talented players in the city as possible. Purnell accomplished that with his 2011 class by keeping Charles McKinney, Macari Brooks, and Jamie Crockett in the Windy City. All three players should add depth on the wing. Point guard Shane Larkin was considered by many as the best recruit of the class, but will not attend DePaul due to a medical condition that will keep him closer to home in Orlando.
DePaul does lose three players to transfer as Purnell continues to clean out Jerry Wainwright’s old recruits and bring in his own talent. With ten underclassmen, the new era is being ushered in. There is more talent on the roster and the Blue Demons could actually finish higher than last place in the Big East this season. While that seems like a little victory, let’s be honest; winning more than one conference game this season will be a huge success for DePaul. Remember, baby steps.
Player to Watch: Cleveland Melvin
The Baltimore native is lengthy, athletic, and explosive in the open floor. He also has a nice mid-range jumper and solid back-to-basket game even against bigger, stronger opponents. He averaged 14.3 points per game despite only playing 26-plus minutes a night. Expect Melvin to see an increase in court time which should only give him more opportunity to add to his numbers. If he can improve his outside shot and become a more aggressive rebounder, it is not out of the question that Melvin could leave DePaul after his sophomore season.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/24 vs. Minnesota (Old Spice Classic)
11/25 vs. Texas Tech/Indiana State (Old Spice Classic)
11/27 vs. Dayton/Wake Forest/Arizona State/Fairfield (Old Spice Classic)
12/1 vs. Ole Miss (Big East/SEC Challenge)
OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraka Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.