Where Will Purnell Turn to for Staff?

At his introductory press conference on Tuesday, new DePaul coach Oliver Purnell spoke of his desire to build a "power staff" of assistant coaches to recruit the city of Chicago and mine the best basketball talent nationwide. In this report, we take a look at who Purnell will likely turn to for that staff.

"We're going to put together a power coaching staff," said Purnell. "A coaching staff that obviously understands the importance of recruiting, that understands and is capable of doing a great job in the area of player improvement.

Known as a program builder, Purnell is in the market for assistant coaches that can recruit new talent and develop the returning DePaul players.

"It starts with our guys that we have here now," said Purnell. "Obviously it needs to be a staff that does a great job in preparing to play not only in the Big East, but in the non-conference schedule. Preparing to play games and preparing to win. We look forward to putting together that power staff as we go over the next couple of days and these next four weeks. We'll do a lot more evaluation of our team obviously. We'll interview and talk to an awful lot of people as we put together that power staff. The work starts (Wednesday)."

Purnell will give some consideration to current DePaul assistants David Booth, Billy Garrett, and Tracy Webster.

"That is a possibility," Purnell said of the current DePaul assistants. "We're going to consider anybody in the United States that fits into what we're trying to do. Absolutely. We will assess our team. We will talk to the current staff. We'll make some decisions based on what I feel we need to do here. The core things are recruiting, player development, and game preparation. We have to be able to do those things and do them well, and do them as well as anybody in the Big East."

Garrett, who attended Tuesday's introductory press conference, appears to be the most likely to be retained by Purnell. Garrett will be instrumental with retaining three recruits already signed for the class of 2010 – Moses Morgan, Walter Pitchford, and Brandon Young.

"I can't tell you a whole lot right now," Purnell said. "I can tell you that we're going to put together a power staff that's second to none anywhere in the country and in the Big East. I understand that's a tall order, because you have some great programs in the Big East and some great staffs. If you think a little bit outside of the box, and look at what we really need here at DePaul, we're still assessing that."

Purnell stated that he believes in recruiting "inside-out". That begins with the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois and working outwards from there. With that in mind, we can guarantee that Purnell's staff will have a heavy Chicago-based presence on it.

If Purnell looks outside the current staff for Chicago recruiters, look for current Southern Illinois assistant coach (and former DePaul assistant) Lance Irvin to get a call. Irvin has ties to the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program run by his father and brothers. The Fire program has a number of top prospects for the Class of 2011 including Wayne Blackshear, Mike Shaw, and Sam Thompson to name just a few.

Another possibility is current Nevada assistant coach Dennis Gates, who has recruited the Chicago area for a number of years.

Purnell could also look to bring in assistant coaches that he has worked with in the past. Former Purnell assistant Ron Bradley was named the interim coach at Clemson yesterday, so he is not likely part of the picture for DePaul. Frank Smith is a longtime Purnell assistant who has worked for him at every stop – Radford, Old Dominion, Dayton, and Clemson. The two have been together for 20 seasons of basketball.

Another possibility is Kevin Nickelberry. Nickelberry, who is currently the head coach of the Libyan national team, worked for Purnell at Clemson from 2003 to 2006. He then became the head coach at Hampton University for three years. Nickelberry was recognized as a stud recruiter in the ACC during his time at Clemson.

If Purnell decides to really think out of the box, he could look to add Dino Gaudio, who was fired today as the head coach at Wake Forest after three years. Purnell is no doubt familiar with Gaudio's reputation as a recruiter in the ACC.

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