Gary DeCesare: Getting Settled in at DePaul

DePaul Men's Basketball Associate Head Coach Gary DeCesare is making his way around learning the streets of Chicago. After arriving at DePaul four months ago, DeCesare is now settling into his job and the community after moving his family of five from Richmond. He is now much more comfortable with his surroundings.

So what does this native New Yorker think about recruiting the Chicago area compared to the east coast? "There isn't much difference," said DeCesare. "Most cities have great high school programs and a lot of AAU programs. Recruiting is all about relationships. I happen to really know a lot of guys in Chicago based on my Five Star basketball (camp) days. At the time when I was at St. Raymond's (NY) and having my own AAU program, I knew all of the AAU guys from Chicago, the majority of them, because we used to play against them. Also, running the ABCD camp, I was also around a lot of AAU guys and high school guys. I'm very comfortable going anywhere in Chicago recruiting any student athlete because, if I don't know somebody, there is definitely somebody who can help me that does know somebody."

"Recruiting a city like New York, Chicago, or L.A., you got to really have some relationships with people to help you," Gary observed. "You're not going to go in not knowing anybody and recruit a person." DeCesare's relationships in Illinois have already paid off this month as the Blue Demons received their first commitment for the class of 2006 in Bolingbrook High point guard Will Walker.

Besides the change in locale, DeCesare now finds himself adapting from the Atlantic 10 conference to the new 16 team Big East mega-conference. DeCesare finds that the Big East affiliation will help out with recruiting the nation's top prospects. "You're in the Big East, you're at the highest level, you should be able to be involved with any kid in the country," stated Decesare. "The problem in the A-10, which was a great conference, which over the years had its years where UMass was up there, and Temple - what you run into is when you're down with a kid and it's between the Big East and the A-10, you usually lose because the kid wants to play at the highest level. That's pretty much the bottom line."

Being in the Big East doesn't necessarily mean that recruits will be knocking down the door though. "Everything has to fit. Kids want to play at the highest level, but they also want to play."

The Blue Demons have been quick to capitalize on being a Big East representative in the Midwest. "It is a big advantage to be a part of the Big East. It is no doubt arguably the best conference. With the ACC, Big East, Big 10, it's arguably the number one conference in the country. It does open up a lot more doors, I believe, with DePaul in the Big East. I think out here in the Midwest, a lot of kids have been tuned into the Big 10. We're the most western Big East school besides Marquette and Notre Dame. If a kid in the Midwest wants to play in the Big East, I think DePaul and Marquette probably have a good shot."

What do Wainwright and DeCesare look for when trying to fill a recruiting need? "We've been very successful in recruiting versatile players," remarked DeCesare. "It's very important that you're recruiting kids that can play multiple positions. I think it helps you in your team personnel."

When looking at recruits the coaching staff does look at where a player is ranked or what recruiting services have to say. "You try to gather as much information as possible. I always look at that as information that is needed. I refer to a lot of scouting services and websites to gather information. It doesn't make you decide on a player, but it does help you with as much background information, or who's recruiting the kid or where he's been at. Today you find a lot of your information on the internet. I don't mean that in a bad way. It's very helpful. It helps you with the process."

DeCesare has the title of Associate Head Coach. What do the duties of that position entail? "Being an associate head coach, it's definitely my job to do anything that's called upon me. Anything that Coach Wainwright needs me to do at any specific level of our job, I'm called to do that."

As a former AAU and high school coach from New York City, DeCesare was already familiar with the three Blue Demons from the city. "I know them all. I know Sammy. I know Karron. I know Cliffy very well. I knew them all before I got here. My teams played against them. Cliffy was down in Richmond last year. He spent the summer with our guys. Sammy, we used to play against all the time with my AAU team. Karron, I knew from high school, we played his high school when he was at Lincoln. We all know each other and we all have a pretty straightforward relationship with each other."

In just a few months DeCesare has witnessed the progress the team has made with off-season conditioning. "We really have concentrated on strength," said Gary. "There wasn't any guys that could bench press 300 (pounds) when we got here. Now we have six or seven guys that can do that. The whole team has really bought into what we are trying to do. Speed and strength are two key components."

The Blue Demons trio of freshmen are Wilson Chandler, Jabari Currie, and Rashad Woods. They have all been making the transition from high school to the lifestyle at a university. "They're doing pretty well. It's one of the hardest things. It is a major adjustment coming from high school to college. One of the biggest things is strength and time management. One of the key components to be successful in college is time management. In high school you have a set schedule. In college you have more time on your hands, because classes don't always meet every day. You can get behind very quickly. You throw in study table, weights, individual workouts, you really have to be able to manage your time."

With Midnight Madness right around the corner, DeCesare looked forward to the team's strengths. "We're going to definitely play hard and I think we're going to be a really good rebounding team."

On the other side of the coin, there are still areas in need of improvement. "We've got to be able to shoot the ball. Being able to make outside shots and make the open shot, that comes with time. The guys are putting the effort into it and really working hard on it. That would probably be the weakness with every team."

DeCesare was considered for the head coaching position at StonyBrook in New York earlier this year. Could a return to the east coast or a head coaching job be in his near future? For now, Gary is content to stay in Chicago. "I'm really comfortable right now," remarked DeCesare. "Coach Wainwright gave me a great opportunity three years ago to join him in Richmond. I've got a lot of great respect for DePaul. I think they have great tradition. I remember watching DePaul when they were a top 10 program. I know being from New York when St. John's was winning how the community backed up and was behind St. John's. I feel with DePaul, it's the same thing. If you win and get it going, it's a great thing for everybody. I want to be a part of that. I want to see that happen. I want to really to try to help Coach Wainwright build that back up."

After just unpacking his moving boxes and getting his wife, twin boys, and daughter settled in a home in Western Springs, DeCesare isn't looking to relocate again anytime soon. "I'm not too particularly fond about moving. Moving is not an easy thing to do. I'm not moving myself, I'm moving a family of five."

DePaul fans look forward to having Coach DeCesare around the city for many years to come.

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