Team: DePaul Blue Demons
2016-17 Record: 9-23, 2-16 Big East
2016-17 Big East Finish: Last, for the eighth time in the last nine years.
Final 2016-17 KenPom Ranking: #184
Postseason? LOL, no.
Key Departures: Billy Garrett (14.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists); Peter Ryckbosch (not an on-court contributor, but the loss of jokes is notable)
Key Returners: Eli Cain (15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists); TreDarius McCallum (9.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists)
Key Arrivals: Austin Grandstaff (shooting guard, 6’4”, 180 lb., transfer from Ohio State by way of Oklahoma, former top 60 recruit); 247’s #73 recruiting class (#8 in the Big East), no top 180 recruits.
Coach: Dave Leitao, in his third season, sixth total at DePaul, 12th overall (18-45 in this DePaul tenure, 76-79 total at DePaul, 161-174 overall)
Outlook: 11, 9, 8, 7, 12, 11, 12, 12, 9, 9. Those are DePaul’s win totals over the past 10 seasons.
But hey, on the upside, they’re opening a brand new 10,000 seat arena for this coming season! Good times. I’m sure it will look very very nice with 7,000 gold shirts in attendance when Marquette comes to McCormick Place.
Does anyone have any reason to believe that the Blue Demons are going to be anything but a complete tire fire again this season? They’re losing Billy Garrett, who was actually pretty good, and there’s no one really to replace him. KenPom’s depth chart algorithm says Eli Cain was the backup PG, and little used Devin Gage was behind him. Relying on a barely top 200 recruit to step in and play the point in the Big East is probably a poor idea, and all of this is probably not great for Dave Leitao.
Perhaps the debut of Austin Grandstaff will work wonders for DePaul. The Texas native hasn’t played a minute of game action since December 2015 as he left Ohio State after a semester, sat out at Oklahoma for another semester, and then bounced off to DePaul for the 2016-17 season. He was a four star prospect in the class of 2015 way back in the day, which means he was ranked just a wee bit ahead of Haanif Cheatham coming out of high school. Grandstaff didn’t really crack the lineup all that much for Thad Matta as the Buckeyes opened up 5-5 but ended up at 21-14 and in the NIT.
This may end up being a bit of a lost season for DePaul, as the future does have a bit of a shine to it with the commitment of Tyger Campbell for 2018. I don’t know if hiring Shane Heirman, Campbell’s high school coach, will pay dividends for the Blue Demons outside of the one player they already locked up, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.