DePaul (9-3) is off to their best start in 12 years. Junior point guard Worrel Clahar has been a key off-the-bench contributor to the Blue Demons early success this season.
Clahar was a late addition to the DePaul team this season due to unexpected circumstance. Purnell found himself without a backup point guard in early August when freshman guard Shane Larkin decided to transfer.
It was fortunate for DePaul that Clahar, a junior college transfer from Lawson State junior college in Alabama, was still available.
At Lawson State last season, Clahar averaged 12.2 points per game while shooting 48.4% from the floor, 48% on 3-pointers, and 77.2% from the free throw line. He dished out seven assists per game and averaged 3.9 steals per game. Clahar was named first team all-conference in 2011 in the Alabama Community College Conference.
It turns out that Purnell struck it rich with the late addition.
Clahar made an immediate impact by winning the team's dunk contest during the Blue Madness festivities in October.
The 5-11, 179 lb. guard even managed to surprise his new teammates with his vertical leap.
"Worrel was kind of holding out in practice," said fellow slam dunk contestant Jamee Crockett. "We've never seen that before. "
Clahar's performance on that night served as a springboard for the 2011-12 season.
"It was real important for me, because coming in late as a new guy, I had to establish my role and my presence," said Clahar. "That kind of gave me more confidence on the court and with my teammates and gaining my teammates' respect. That was an icebreaker for me."
Originally Clahar wasn't supposed to be in the contest.
"Actually I got in at the last minute, Krys Faber was supposed to be in it," said Worrel. "Somehow he ended up saying he didn't want to be in it and I ended up being in it."
Clahar has gone on to give the Blue Demons a lift off the bench while backing up Brandon Young at the point guard position.
Worrel is averaging 5.1 points, 1.5 assists, and one steal per game while playing 14.2 minutes per game for the Blue Demons.
Clahar's season-high came earlier in the month with nine points against Ole Miss in the Big East / SEC Challenge.
Where Clahar has contributed the most has been through his defense in Purnell's full court pressure system.
"You'll see my on-the-ball defense," said Clahar. "The major change for me is that a lot of times my offense isn't going to be there. There is a drastic change from the junior college to the Division I Big East level. Sometimes I know my game is not going to be there, but my defense should always be there. I think I contribute by getting our guards, Brandon Young, Charles (McKinney), and JK (Jeremiah Kelly), better with my defensive pressure. I always go hard on defense no matter what. "
Clahar has made the transition to the Division I level and got acclimated to his new team quickly.
"I think the biggest thing is for him to understand what I want out of him and what his role is," said Purnell. "That's basically take to care of the daggone basketball, don't turn it over, and get us into things. Then he's got to be a pest on defense. I think he's done an excellent job of adjusting to that role."
While Clahar comes to DePaul from the South, he originally hails from Brooklyn, New York. Worrel has a number of mates playing on Big East teams, including Dante Taylor, Ashton Gibbs, and Tray Woodall from Pittsburgh, and Russell Smith from Louisville. Clahar looks forward to matching up with the best talent the Big East has to offer.
"It's real exciting to play against those guys and go back East," Worrel said. "At the same time I stay humble, because nobody is really expecting us do anything. They are expecting us to be at the bottom of the polls. We're just going to surprise everybody."
Surprise is something that Clahar seems to be very good at.
Clahar is Biggest Surprise for DePaul
We Are DePaul Top Stories
On Campus: Weekend of September 24thA number of the nation's top prospects will take official and unofficial visits this weekend. Who is headed where? Scout breaks down the key visits of the weekend.
Scout HoopsFriday at 5:07 AM
DePaul Learns Big East ScheduleCHICAGO – The Big East conference unveiled the 2016-17 conference schedule today as well as TV assignments for FOX and CBS coverage with the Blue Demons opening on the road at…
We Are DePaul09/13/2016
Hoops Recruiting Inside ScoopWhat's the latest on the top recruits in the country? Scout's basketball recruiting team -- Evan Daniels, Brian Snow and Josh Gershon -- break down the latest.
Updated 2018 Top 100The 2018 player rankings have been extended from a top 75 to a top 100. Marvin Bagley, a 6-foot-10 power forward, held on to the No. 1 spot, while Zion Williamson and Romeo…