Donnavan Kirk transferred to DePaul after averaging 2.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in 9.5 minutes of play in 13 appearances for the Miami Hurricanes last season.
Under NCAA transfer rules, the 6-9, 222 lb. big man has been allowed to practice with his teammates, but has not been permitted to play in game competition until now.
"The year off definitely gave me a chance, when I first came here, to see the competition we're playing against," said Kirk. "To see how I can be a positive asset to my team, help them out, and see which ways I can contribute."
Kirk has been able to put the last year to good use while working in the weight room and on his game.
"I was able to build up," Donnavan said. "I built up strength-wise and quickness-wise and getting to know the plays and getting the feel. I'm ready to get out there and showcase my talents. "
Kirk wasn't allowed to travel with his teammates on their European tour this summer, so instead he was able to catch on with the Global Sports Academy tour of collegiate all-stars in August.
"I was able to work on my game," said Kirk. "I was able to take a trip over to Belgium to play with the Global Sports Academy team. It was great. We spent a week over there. I got to get the experience and see how it is to play overseas. We played against some really good professional teams over there. That was an eye opener as well. You're competing with more than just Americans and you keep getting better. We played a team in Amsterdam as well and took a day trip to London. It's beautiful over there. It benefitted me to get some European experience. "
Kirk never really fit in well with former Miami coach Frank Haith's system and finds DePaul coach Oliver Purnell's frenetic pace on both ends of the floor more to his liking.
"The speed of the game, more pressing, and more man-to-man defense are all different," said Kirk. "This style right here really fits me, getting up and down and running the floor.
Kirk will be eligible just in time to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic on ESPN2 on Thursday.
"I'll be playing on Thanksgiving Day," said Donnavan. "That will be a great day for me to come out and play."
DePaul (2-0) has struggled on the boards in their first two games and will need someone with Kirk's size and skill on the glass against Minnesota's frontcourt.
"Yes, I've seen them," Kirk said of Minnesota. "When I was at Miami, we played them as well. They're a good team. Some of those guys have been there for awhile. They'll come ready to play and I'm excited to get out there and play."
Thus far, Purnell has been impressed by Kirk's contributions in practice.
"Donnavan is an athletic, long, big guy just like we thought," said Purnell. "I wish we had him at the beginning. I guess it's a blessing that he's only missing two games. He's shot the ball well. He's been really good at the point of my press. He has long arms and he runs extremely well for a guy his size. He's shown us what we thought. I think the biggest thing with him is really getting him in our game shape, because Miami played zone and they didn't run a lot. So, it's a little different mentality. We have to get him ready right from the beginning, because we're definitely counting on him. "
At one point in DePaul's win over Mississippi Valley State, Purnell saw that big men Krys Faber and Derrell Robertson had four fouls apiece. Purnell turned to his bench to see that he had no other options. If nothing else, Kirk will give the Blue Demons some much needed depth in the frontcourt.
"I know Donnavan is excited that he'll be eligible for the next game," said Purnell. "We just got to keep him from getting too excited. He's a big body that we sorely need."
After watching the team from the bench for the last year, Kirk has a positive outlook on the Blue Demons this season.
"I think everybody is going to do a lot better than what they did last year," said Kirk. "It will be a step forward. Everybody has worked hard. Everybody is coming together like a team. We can be the attack team that we are. We'll bring it every single night. We play against a lot of great teams in the Big East, so we got to make sure that we're ready and make sure we're focused. "
Donnavan also has a lot of faith in his fellow teammates.
"I think Cleveland Melvin is cooking up to have another good year," Kirk said. "Charles McKinney is going to turn out to be a good player as well. He has a lot of heart and plays hard. Brandon (Young) is playing well too. Pretty much the whole team has stepped up and shown what they can do. We're definitely headed in the right direction. "
Donnavan Kirk is Ready to Hit the Floor
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