For his first recruiting class at DePaul, Oliver Purnell put together a well-balanced group of five student-athletes that will address needs at every spot on the floor.
With the signing of guards Macari Brooks and Shane Larkin, wing Jamee Crockett, and big men Braeden Anderson and Derrell Robertson, Purnell has put together an athletic group that will be the future of what he wants to achieve at DePaul.
"I'm really excited about our recruiting class," said Purnell. "Obviously, we got a guy at each of the traditional positions. I feel like we've addressed some needs. It's a very athletic group. Obviously that's important when you're talking about DePaul basketball now. I really like them."
Purnell has frequently talked about the importance of recruiting the Chicago area and building a team from the inside-out. He has done just that in his first class by bringing in two young men from Chicago's south suburbs first and then adding three out of state prospects.
"We've accomplished that goal in our first recruiting class," said Oliver. "Two of those young men are from the Chicago area. Both of them played with the fabled Mac Irvin Fire AAU team. So we're happy to have Macari Brooks and Jamie Crockett from the Chicago area. Then, as we thought, we were able to recruit nationwide with Shane Larkin from Orlando Florida, down in Jackson, Mississippi with Derrell Robertson, and then the Canadian kid who is up in a New England prep school – Braeden Anderson. So we're branching out nationally as well."
Purnell has put together a class that has potential, and as he points out, developing players to that potential is essential.
"Player development is huge everywhere I've been," said Purnell. "We haven't had a whole lot of top-five recruits, first round draft choices, and that kind of thing. Yet we've been able bring in guys that are athletic, they are team guys, and they believe in family. They want to be coached. They want to be good. We stress player development. We've got a great teaching staff, so we're very confident we'll bring those guys along and turn a number of them into outstanding basketball players."
Purnell is following the same blueprint that he used at Clemson. He brought in athletic players and coached them up. So, how does this class compare to his first class at Clemson?
"I can't remember that far back," quipped Purnell. "I'm sure it's very similar in that we've got a bunch of guys that are athletic. What we called Clemson guys then, we call DePaul guys now. They're long, tough, and they want to learn."
One person who wants to learn is Shane Larkin, the son of former MLB shortstop Barry Larkin, and an all-state caliber point guard from Florida.
"It's always important to have a number of point guards in your program," Purnell said. "That guy needs to be an extension on the floor. Larkin is not only what I think will be an outstanding point guard, but he can score the ball. He can shoot the three point shot. Right now with our program, we need that."
The Blue Demons will open the 2010-11 season on Sunday afternoon with Chicago State. Stay tuned to WeAreDePaul.com for the very latest on DePaul basketball.
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