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Austin Grandstaff hoping for memorable sophomore season at DePaul

Struggling to stand upright because of the 90-degree Rockwall, Texas heat, then-6-year-old Austin Grandstaff attempted to withstand the conditions to work on his basketball repertoire on his driveway hoop. 

Alongside his father-turned-AAU coach, Wes Grandstaff, he worked on becoming comfortable driving towards the rim with his left hand since he's right-handed. Hence, he would practice converting layups solely with his non-dominant palm while shooting threes with the other. 

“He (Wes Grandstaff) taught me how to work hard at a young age and is easily the biggest impact in my life,” Grandstaff said. 

Now, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard says he’s eager to utilize his skill set with the Blue Demons, along with enhancing the perception of DePaul men’s basketball. However, he has endured an anxious wait to finally don a scarlet, royal blue and white uniform next season.

After committing to Ohio State in May 2014, Grandstaff decided to transfer before the beginning of Big Ten play during his freshman year. Following his shift to Oklahoma, he tossed around the idea of playing at DePaul with associate head coach Rick Carter, who was recruiting Grandstaff ever since he was a freshman at Rockwall High School. 

Even though he never expected to leave two universities, he says he always strived to maintain a friendship with Carter, as valuing relationships is a top priority for him. 

“That’s one of the only coaches I’ve ever trusted before I got here, so it was a no brainer,” he said.

Once Grandstaff arrived at DePaul in the summer of 2016, he was held hostage by the NCAA transfer rules, which forces players to sit out an extended period of time after making the transition to another school. Since he only would’ve been eligible to compete in conference play, he declared to wait until the 2017-18 campaign before returning to the court.

Nevertheless, Grandstaff was dejected midway through the season without receiving the opportunity to aid his team’s performance.

“You do all this work in practice, and you don’t get to play in the games, so you feel like it doesn’t really matter,” he said.

Seeing the former 4-star recruit lacked a sense of direction, Grandstaff says Carter urged him to improve in practice, along with the weight room. Subsequently, he spent four-to-five days a week lifting, allowing himself to gain 10 pounds of muscle. 

Additionally, he and fellow transfer Max Strus, who played for one season at Lewis, a Division II program, strived to push each other in practice. While playing on the same team, the two looked to create for one another, enhancing their playmaking abilities in the process. Grandstaff says they each have a high basketball I.Q., too.

“We’re (he and Strus) tired of (DePaul) losing and people talking bad about us (the team),” he said. “We both feel like we have the ability to change that.”

As a senior in high school, Grandstaff averaged 29 points, as well as hitting nearly three triples per game. He says he feels his larger stature will allow him to subtly free himself on the perimeter against bulkier, Big East competition. 

Moreover, Devin Gage is another teammate he has enjoyed working off-ball with in practice. Despite averaging a mere 3.7 points per contest in his freshman campaign, Gage should earn more minutes at point guard next season with Billy Garrett Jr.’s departure. 

“His (Gage’s) potential is limitless,” he said. “He’s one of the most athletic people I’ve ever seen. Once he puts it all together, he’s gonna be really good.”

Although he’s excited to play with Strus and Gage in the new Wintrust Arena next season, he’ll be even more thrilled to see his son in the stands. Knox Grandstaff, who’s 1 year and 9 months old, visits Grandstaff with his mother fairly often. 

“He has inspired me to be a better person,” he said. “Everything I do is for him.”

Once Grandstaff is finally able to attempt his first shot with the Blue Demons, his son might just ask to take a trip to his father’s driveway in Texas.  


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