DePaul Blue Demons Coaching Search: Four Leading Candidates

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Dave Leitao at DePaul 2.0 was mostly a system malfunction, as it was overall much less successful and effective than the inaugural edition. The high point of his second tenure leading the DePaul Blue Demons was a deep run in the CBI a couple year ago.

And yes the words “high point” and “CBI” do not actually go together, at all. With Jean Lenti-Ponsetto finally gone, there is actual hope now that DPU could get the men’s basketball coaching hire correct. Under JLP, DPU was a total laughingstock, and there wasn’t ever going to be much hope of escaping that. However, DeWayne Peevy, who took over the A.D. job in April, is on the ball, and he’ll get things done.

Peevy brings ambition, acumen and competence, so you can expect him to make a great hire. He has to, as this is his first real chance to put his stamp on DePaul Blue Demons athletics. This is why he was hired away from Kentucky, where he previously served as Associate Athletic Director, and the main A.D. for the blue blood men’s basketball program.

Right now, the only things that Kentucky and DePaul basketball have in common is the color blue and missing out on the NCAA Tournament this year. Oh and both were powerhouses in the late 1970s. Peevy says he’s looking to make a coaching hire “where the floor is making the NCAA Tournament, not the ceiling.”

“We need to be in the conversation with the programs that are making the tournament every year,” he said. “I want to be in that stratosphere. I want to be looked at as one of those programs where it’s, like, odd if you’re not there.”

As Michael Jordan said, “the ceiling is the roof,” but that’s debatable, as the roof is actually slightly higher than the ceiling. Howeever, it’s time for DePaul to reach for the stars, with their feet on the ground, as the sky is now the limit. Peevy will no doubt call upon his Kentucky connections, and hit up that SEC rolodex he has as the coaching search gets underway. 

Kenny Payne, New York Knicks Asst. Coach

All DePaul Blue Demons coaching search listicles must start with Payne, who was Associate Head Coach under John Calipari at Kentucky from 2014 until this past August. Payne was at UK during the famous 2014–15 season, which featured a team composed of “reinforcements, not substitutes” which worked on a “platoon system.” They tied the NCAA record for most wins in a season (38), before suffering their first loss, to Wisconsin, in the Final Four.

Payne just took the Knicks gig, so DPU will have to throw a lot of money at him to make him move again. In the words of Cardi B. “I don’t need to dance, I make money move.” Payne definitely wants a head coaching gig, as he interviewed for the Mississippi St. job.

One name not being linked to the DePaul vacancy is alum and NBA G League Program Manager Rod Strickland. However, he might easily become an assistant on the new staff, regardless of whomever who is hired.

A Payne regime would be the perfect place, given his Knicks and Kentucky ties.

Strickland was an assistant coach for the South Florida Bulls, under then head man and now Illini assistant Orlando Antigua 2014-17. He had an administrative role under Calipari at UK and was the director of basketball operations at the University of Memphis under Coach Cal. He had a storied NBA playing career, with some of his best years with the Knickerbockers.

He’s also the godfather of current NBA player Kyrie Irving, so his role in Lincoln Park might, prospectively, be similar to what Antigua does now at U of I- recruiting guru.

Jon Scheyer

Jon Scheyer, Associate Head Coach, Duke

Fast rising commodity with local connections. It was just 2010 that he won a national title, as a player, at Duke. Scheyer, 33, also won a title in high school, where he led Glenbrook North to the 2005 crown. The Northbook native and fourth leading scorer in Illinois prep history is of course coveting the eventual vacancy in Durham, but he’s way down the pecking order of consideration for that gig.

However, if he proves himself elsewhere first as a head man

Porter Moser, Loyola Head Coach 

The buff boss of the Ramblers can pretty much write his own blank check right now, if he wants to move up the pecking order. Having recently re-upped, with a raise, in Rogers Park, he won’t come cheap. If he wants a premier gig now, then he should probably take the Indiana job instead.

However, taking this gig means he gets to stay home, likewise if Chris Collins continues to struggle at Northwestern next season, and his new A.D. and University President (whomever ends up filling those positions) isn’t impressed by hig body of work.

Moser is the new Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens of the early 2010s, his stock is high enough that he can wait for whichever job he feels is best.

dee-brown-roger-powell

Roger Powell Jr. Asst. Coach, Gonzaga 

Another local connection and hot commodity, up-and-comer in the coaching ranks. He was a starter on Illinois’ 2005 national runner-up team, and his image adorns the famous Joliet mural of famous denizens, underneath the bridge by the baseball stadium.

Powell also served as associate head coach at Vanderbilt and as an assistant at Valpo.

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Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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