What it will take to win: DePaul

Coaching change season has kicked into gear in college basketball. Scout.com will look at the top available jobs and what it takes to win at each of them. Here the focus is on DePaul.

With the decision to let go of Oliver Purnell, the job opening at DePaul University is sure to command some definite interest. While it is a program that has been basically irrelevant for a decade, there is still somethings to like here. Here is a look at what has to be done to win at DePaul.

The Recruiting Climate

DePaul is located right in the heart of Chicago in the Lincoln Park area, and there might not be a better place in the country from a recruiting perspective to be located. Look no further than the last two years when players such as Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, and Frank Kaminsky all have been in the mix for National Player of the Year voting, and all are Chicago natives.

So from that perspective the local talent base is very strong. Also Chicago is only about three hours from another hot bed in Indianapolis and roughly an hour from the city of Milwaukee which is also producing good talent. So geography is absolutely on the side of DePaul.

However while that is all well and good, the only major recruiting coup from the city that DePaul has landed is Billy Garret Jr, and his father was on staff and the one recruiting him. Quite simply Chicagoland area players have not been remotely drawn to DePaul since the days of Quentin Richardson, Bobby Simmons, and Lance Williams, and that was 15 years ago.

With that it is important to understand that recruiting the Chicago area is not easy. There is a lot that goes into getting the top kids from the area, and some coaches are more willing than others to deal with some the headaches that come along with that.

If DePaul is going to be a factor in the future it is going to be based on keeping Chicago kids home. Maybe their new arena will help which is set to open in a few years, maybe new blood on the coaching staff will help, but the reality is that it won’t be easy because recruiting Chicago isn’t easy.

People from Chicago love their city, there is a ton of pride about being from Chicago, but then kids seem to have no loyalty to staying there for college, and finding a way to change that is going to be key for the next person who has the job at DePaul.

What type of coach is needed

Maybe the most important thing to keep in mind with DePaul is that the roster is far from devoid of talent. Billy Garrett Jr, Tommy Hamilton IV, and Myke Henry are all legit high-major talents, and all return next season from a team that managed to win 5 of their first 7 Big East games this season.

With that the new coach has to be someone who can work with the guys on the roster. Over the past few seasons DePaul has shown absolutely no desire to guard anybody. The Blue Demons have had the worst adjusted defensive efficiency ranking in the Big East the last three seasons, and with their length, athleticism, and size that simply shouldn’t be happening.

So clearly someone who will hold the players accountable is important. Also the person in charge will have to find a way to bring excitement to the arena. Now it is likely that DePaul doesn’t magically bring in 10,000 fans to Allstate Arena next season even if Phil Jackson is named coach, but it has to be someone who is willing and able to engage with the students and will get them to support the team.

Finally the next coach absolutely has to put together a staff around him that flat out knows Chicago. Places like Indianapolis can be recruited by people who don’t have intimate knowledge of the area, that is just not the case with Chicago. Retaining Billy Garret Sr. would probably help keep some continuity with the decently talented returning core, and then after that at least one guy with a proven track record or connection to the city has to be added to the coaching staff.

Unlike a school like St. John’s which relies on New York City’s talent pipeline which has kind of dried up in recent years, DePaul’s homegrown talent is better than ever in Chicago, and in order to make a statement some of them have to stay home, and that is going to be the biggest challenge for the new coach.

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