Garrett’s Development Depends on Others

DePaul men’s basketball is less than a month away from their regular season opener against the UIC Flames. Through his four years at DePaul, head coach Oliver Purnell holds a 42-77 record, including only nine in-conference wins. You can’t argue with those numbers, but there’s reason for optimism.

While Garrett Jr.’s freshman season was coined a success, scoring 12.4 points per contest, along with 3 assists, fans still jumped on his back, pointing to the 36 percent shooting from the field. If the Morgan Park alum is to improve upon his mid and long range jump shot, he’ll hinge on these five Blue Demons.

Myke Henry stands at the top of the list. After sitting out his transfer season, Henry comes into DePaul with two years of eligibility left. The swingman didn’t play much at the University of Illinois, averaging nine minutes per game in two seasons. His threat to score the basketball is evident, though.

Prior to regular season games, as well as scrimmages, Henry has shown the ability to light it up, both within and outside the arc. He’ll be forced to replace Brandon Young’s production, as well as becoming an option that Garrett Jr. can lean on.

Along with Henry, sophomore Tommy Hamilton must improve in the post. The big man shot 39 percent from the field, but his inconsistency was surrounded by his struggles to remain on the court. Hamilton’s began last season at 281 pounds, playing a factor in foul trouble, as well as his ability to sprint up and down the hardwood.

Hamilton now sits at 253 pounds, giving himself room for development. The frontcourt threat needs to find a way to be effective from not only the low block, but on the defensive end, too. DePaul has been searching for a dominant force in the post for a while, and Hamilton’s opportunity is there for the taking.

His rebounding is also an area of needed improvement. In 2013-14, Hamilton averaged 4.8 boards per contest. Late in games, Blue Demons struggled on the defensive end, giving their opponent too many chances with a fresh shot clock. It’s important for Hamilton to step up on both ends of the floor.

Sticking in the frontcourt, Rashaun Stimage, an incoming junior college transfer, will be forced to play key minutes in his first season at DePaul. Throughout the summer, the power forward was the best low post defender that the Blue Demons had to offer.

Last season, according to ESPN.com, DePaul ranked 302nd in points allowed (75.4 points per game) and 318th in rebounds per game (21.6). Even though the Blue Demons need more on the offensive end, their main liability remains on defense. Hamilton and Stimage have an opportunity to boost those numbers in the right direction.

Moving onto the backcourt, Aaron Simpson is another junior college transfer entering his first season with the Blue Demons. Although Simpson’s 5 foot 11 inch, 152 pound frame might seem peculiar, his jumper isn’t. Throughout practices and scrimmages, the guard has consistently knocked down shots from the free throw line and out. Adding another scorer will be a key to DePaul’s success in 2014-15.

The last piece, and maybe the forgotten man in DePaul’s rotation, is Jamee Crockett. The senior swingman has digressed since his freshman year; after shooting 43 percent his freshman year, he connected on just 25 percent of his shots last season. However, Crockett has recovered from injuries, lost weight and looks explosive again around the rim.

If Crockett can find the success he once had, the Blue Demons could really use his athleticism in their new, fast-pace offense.

Don’t pop the champagne yet, but keep it to your side. DePaul has a chance to gain ground on a weak Big East conference this season. It’s not just up to Purnell, though. Alongside Garrett Jr., the aforementioned Blue Demons must rise to the occasion.


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