Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The key to winning at DePaul? Keeping Chicagoans in Chicago

Jerry Wainwright was fired by DePaul two weeks ago after four and a half disappointing seasons, with Tracy Webster taking over as the interim head coach.

Wainwright had a lot of success at UNC-Wilmington and Richmond, reaching the NCAA Tournament in three out of five seasons. But he never found that success at DePaul. While some questioned whether or not anyone can win at DePaul, the biggest issue for Wainwright, an Illinois native, was his inability tap into the talent available coming out of Chicago.

And yes, there is quite a bit of talent coming out of Chicago: Derrick Rose, Evan Turner, E'Twaun Moore, Demetri McCamey, Michael Dunigan, Iman Shumpert, DJ Richardson, and Brandon Paul are just some of the names Wainwright missed out on.

It isn't hard to figure out that DePaul, if they want to compete in the Big East, is going to need to keep some of those Chicagoans at home.

How do they do that?

Jeff Goodman has a suggestion: hire Southern Illinois's Chris Lowery.

Not only is Lowery a proven coach – he led the Salukis to the NCAA tournament each of his first three seasons – but he is tied in as well as anyone to the top two summer programs in the area.

1. Lowery's associate head coach is Lance Irvin, who is the son of Mac Irvin of the Mac Irvin Fire – which churns out more talent than any other program in the state. My guess is he'd get a few players out of a program that constantly has high-major players.

2. Lowery coached Bryan Mullins for four years at Southern Illinois. Mullins is the son of Mike Mullins, who runs the Illinois Wolves program – the same one that has produced guys like Evan Turner, John Shurna and Bobby Frasor.
And let's not forget that the last two hires from Southern Illinois were Matt Painter and Bruce Weber, who are two of the best coaches in the country.

In theory, that would be a great hire for the Blue Demons.

But there is a catch.

Some of the talent currently in the Chicago high schools ranks is already committed to a school. As Rick Bozich points out, this means that there are a couple fan bases that may want to keep a very close eye on what happens with the DePaul opening.

Who are they?
  • Louisville: The Cardinals got a verbal commitment from Wayne Blackshear, a 6'5" junior two-guard from Chicago's Morgan Park High School that Rivals has listed as a top 20 recruit in the class of 2011, on Christmas Day. But Blackshear plays for the Mac Irvin Fire, and his high school coach is Nick Irvin, Lance's brother and Mac's son.

  • Illinois: Bruce Weber has something of a pipeline coming from Chicago, as he well should. Coming in the class of 2010, which is a consensus top 10 recruiting class, is Jereme Richmond, a 6'8" small forward rated as a top 20 national recruit out of Waukegan, IL; Crandall Head (Luther's little brother), a 6'4" off-guard form just out side of Chicago rated as a consensus top 75 players; and Meyers Leonard, a legit seven-footer out of Robinson, IL, who has drawn comparisons to Jon Leuer. All three players play for the Mac Irvin Fire.

    But that's not it. Weber has also landed a commitment from Nnanna Edwu, a 6'10" junior rated in the top 50 in the class of 2011, who happens to play for the Illinois Wolves.
Now, there is no guarantee that any, or even one, of those players will renege on their commitment. I mean, Crandall Head is the younger brother of Luther Head, who starred for the Illini when they reached the title game of the 2005 NCAA Tournament before heading to the league. I doubt that anyone would be able to convince Crandall to go anywhere else.

That said, there are still a number of high major prospects in the class of 2011, the first class that Lowery would be able to really recruit for at DePaul, that are uncommitted, and more than a few are associated with the aformentioned AAU teams: Chasson Randle, Jacob Williams, and Bobo Drummond with the Illinois Wolves; Dre Henley, Sam Thompson, and Mike Shaw with the Mac Irvin Fire.

And that's just scratching the surface of the wealth of players in Chicago.

The talent is there in Chicago. The challenge for Lowery, or any other coach that gets the DePaul job, is keeping it there.

1 comment:

Ptownballa1 said...

DJ Richardson is from Peoria, Illinois. I wonder when Depaul will recognize that Illinois separated itself from them when U of I began putting Peoria ballers to work for them which only led to Peorians on the coaching staff. Why not join them. Jacoby Roddy, Lawrence Alaxander, Romeo Johnson
Bobo Drummond, Deontray Dorsey ect. The talent is present for many different sports as well as in the classroom, hurry up!