With the early departure of wing forward Dar Tucker to the pros, DePaul will be looking heavily to sophomore Eric Wallace to contribute immediately to fill the void that Tucker leaves in the Demons' lineup.
Wallace sat out last season after transferring in from Ohio State. In his freshman season with the Buckeyes, Wallace played in 15 games and averaged just 4.8 minutes per game. In those scarce minutes, Eric averaged 1.8 points and 1.3 rebounds. Wallace's career high came when he scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds during 16 minutes of play against Iowa.
ATTACK Athletics scout Mike Procopio worked out the 6-6, 215 lb. DePaul forward in a three day College Player camp last month.
"I think he's a very physical, athletic basketball player," Procopio said. "You can do a lot with him because he can put the ball on the floor and finish, he can post up, and he can play in the mid-range. He's not a great shooter from what I've seen. He's a good mid-range shooter."
While his shooting is listed as an area of improvement, Wallace did shot 50% from the field with the Buckeyes.
"His range will hurt him a little bit, but I think that you can do a lot with him," said Procopio. "He's a foxhole guy. He's a tough, strong guy. He reminds me a little bit of Corey Magette in the sense that he's a real physical wing player."
Like Tucker did last season, Wallace can often create mismatches for opponents. "He's a real physical kid," Procopio observed. "He can help you rebound the basketball. You can play him inside a bit. You can run him off screens. He's a guy where there is a lot of mismatch problems, especially if he is setting screens and rolling to the basket and killing his man."
"If he sets a screen on a point guard and forces a switch, now he can be like a Paul Pierce," Mike said.
"He's a strong kid," said Procopio. "He's not an ultimately skilled basketball player where he's going to score 25 points a game just on raw ability, but he can really be a guy that can be a junk yard dog in that 17 foot and in range. There he can make shots, he can take you off the dribble, he can face you up, he can create space with his body and be physical."
Overall, Procopio came away from the camp impressed with Wallace. "I think he can do some things. He really impressed me with his ability to compete."
"In the Big East, it's like the NBA, if you allow yourself to be taken out physically and you can't compete, it's going to be a long 40 minutes. I think he can really do something for them physically, to help them on both ends of the basketball floor. I think he's going to be a good player."
Wallace will bring some versatility to the Blue Demons frontcourt this season. "You can play him at multiple positions, the three and the four," Procopio said. "If you play small, like you saw Lebron James play some four for Cleveland this year, you can change him out."
The Blue Demons will no doubt be relying on Wallace to step up this season.
"If he can consistently make that 15 to 17 foot jump shot and shoot 72 to 75 percent from the line, I think he can be a very good basketball player, because he can score and also rebound out of that three man position. That's really important. It's a lost art to be able to rebound out of that small forward spot. I think he's going to be a really good player."