Eli Cain looking for carryover after fine freshman campaign

Not a whole lot was expected out of DePaul's Eli Cain last season.

The freshman came in last season as an unknown. Cain was a late signee under ex-DePaul coach Oliver Purnell and was re-recruited and retained by new coach Dave Leitao. By and large, fans were more hopeful about the contributions Erten Gazi, Develle Phillips and Oumar Barry could produce.

However, it was Cain who worked himself into a huge role, which started with an impressive showing on DePaul's trip to France over the summer.

After a somewhat rocky start, Cain really hit his groove in the middle of the season. In the end he averaged 10.3 points (third on the team), 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, while being named to the All-Big East Freshman team.

While speaking with Cain at Big East Media Day, Cain said he learned a good deal from his freshman season. He's now ready to apply what he learned last season and become more of a leader on the court this season.

“The main thing is becoming more of a leadervocally and leading by example” Cain said about what he is expecting this year. “Last year I think I had a pretty decent year, but I feel that I left a lot of things on the table.”

Cain said he was proud of his individual accomplishments, but he wants team success above anything else.

“Individually I haven't set any goals,” said Cain. “I just want to win more, do well in Big East (play) and make the tournament. I just want to change the culture of DePaul basketball.”

Although practice was only a few days in at the time of Big East Media Day, Cain thinks there is difference in this year’s team.

“It's a different culture,” Cain said. “The young guys are excited, they bring a lot of energy. The coaches are (emphasizing) sticking together as a team. I really like what I see so far.”

Cain and senior guard Billy Garrett Jr are really the only two known quantities on DePaul, with holdovers Darrick Wood, R.J. Curington, Peter Ryckbosch and Erten Gazi providing solid depth.

As such, Leitao is bringing in eight newcomers (including one transfer sitting out this season in Max Strus and another possibly in Austin Grandstaff) to bolster the roster.

So there is the expectation that some of these newcomers will play a vital role this season.

Cain was excited about the potential of some of the newcomers.

“Tre (McCallum), big Levi (Cook) and all the freshmen guys (have been impressive),” said Cain.

However, Cain thinks junior college transfer Tre'Darius McCallum can be a game changer for the Blue Demons.

“He's long, athletic, can play every position, get up and down the floor, rebound and he shoots the ball well,” Cain said.

Cain also said he likes the defensive intensity freshmen guards Devin Gage and Brandon Cyrus give the team.

“Brandon and Devin bring a lot of energy and a lot of defense,” Cain said.

Cain also said seniors Wood and Curington have a different mindset heading into this season, as they look to finish their careers in style.

“Darrick and R.J., they seem like their mindset has completely changed from last year.”

Although Cain is a gifted slasher and mostly plays on the wing, he is up to taking on more roles this season. With Leitao losing key frontcourt pieces in Myke Henry, Tommy Hamilton and Rashaun Stimage, Cain, who gained ten pounds of muscle over the summer, said he would play power forward if he had to.

Considering Leitao already said he would like to spread the floor with more shooters and playmakers, Cain can play a variety of positions.

“All of us are pretty much the same height,” Cain said. “Me, Bill, Tre and Darrick we can all rotate positions. We lost a lot with Myke, Rashaun and Tommy, so as you know, that's a lot of rebounding gone. But we'll have to step up and rebound ourselves.”

Whatever position he plays, Cain will clearly play an integral role in any success DePaul has this season. 

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