DePaul's Burns Matures into Leader

The last time Draelon Burns took a meaningful shot in a basketball game, he was slightly off the mark in a NIT quarterfinal loss at Air Force. A shot that seemed good off the release, hit the back of the rim and fell out. Astonishingly, Burns was trusted to take the shot over proven vets and NBA commodities in Sammy Mejia and Wilson Chandler. That is a testament to the player and leader Burns is.

Draelon Burns is someone who brings his hardhat to work every day and is ready to punch his work card again and he doesn't worry about shots falling or not. His moxie and attitude are unparalleled on this DePaul team.

"It was in my mind for a while, but it kind of got out of me, as I worked hard this summer," explains Burns about the missed shot against Air Force that would have put the Blue Demons in the NIT Final Four. Burns says in following workouts and practices he imagines every shot going in and will not hesitate to take a last second shot, and the miss only motivates him to perfection.

DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright has said on frequent occasions that Burns does not have a conscience and never met a shot he didn't like and he wants to keep it that way.

That quote makes Burns chuckle and nod in agreement. "Personally, I really love that quote," Burns says with a grin. "Ever since I was young, I never thought a shot was a bad shot. I really don't think I take a lot of bad shots."

Draelon loves to score. He excelled in the role of instant offense off the bench in the beginning portion of last season. "Scoring really kind of comes easy," Burns says. "That's really not a problem."

For most of last year, Burns played second fiddle to Chandler and Mejia, but as the season progressed, Draelon took on more of a key role and was trusted in late game situations. Who can forget his strip of Colin Falls in the backcourt and subsequent feed to Chandler for a game winning dunk against Notre Dame at Allstate Arena?

In three games in the NIT, Burns took 33 shots, three less than Chandler and six more than Mejia. Now a senior, Burns is ready for the role of being the hunted, knowing defenses will now draw up plans to stop Draelon.

"After they (departing seniors Mejia, Marcus Heard, Lorenzo Thompson, and Keith Butler) left and Wilson declared, I already knew that I was the so-called next in line," discusses Burns. "So I really worked hard over the summer."

Burns, along with three other seniors Wesley Green, Karron Clarke and Cliff Clinkscales, knows he has to lead and will pass his wisdom down to the six exciting newcomers that will be an important part of the team. "(I want to) show them the way, and what it will take to be a successful player," Burns commented. "I'm hoping to teach the young kids to catch on real fast."

Draelon raved about the play of the DePaul newcomers and say they are physically gifted and advanced for their ages.

As pointed out earlier, scoring comes easy for Burns, but defense is something he takes great pride in and keeps working hard on it. "I'm really working on my conditioning right now, so I can hold the best player on the opposing team and really take over that role," Burns said.

Despite the loss of significant personnel, Burns is not downplaying expectations and is excited for the season and he thinks DePaul can surprise a few folks. "We still have high expectations," concluded Burns. "Just like those players came, another group will come forward."

If a game is on the line and DePaul has the ball with a chance to win or tie, everyone in the building will know the ball will be in Burns' hand and that suits him just fine. Just don't expect him to miss it, like his last attempt.

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