DePaul Suffers Alexander Heartbreak But Shouldn’t Lose FaithPosted by George Hershey on November 16th, 2013
Yesterday DePaul’s basketball program and its fans watched closely as consensus top five class of 2014 recruit Cliff Alexander decided to attend Kansas, turning down his hometown Blue Demons and home state Fighting Illini. The Blue Demons had been in contention as long as anybody in his final grouping and were an appealing team for Alexander because of the proximity to his family. Rumors swirling around in the days leading up to the announcement suggested that he would be deciding between Illinois, Kansas and DePaul, but with top recruits Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones reportedly set to pick Duke over Kansas, there was still plenty of room for Alexander on Bill Self’s team.
The addition of Alexander would have been the biggest win for DePaul in decades. A player of his caliber is a program-changer for a school like DePaul. The impact goes beyond what he would have brought to the court for his one season, maybe two, in college. The excitement and publicity around the program would have brought spectators and the media out in droves to see him. It also would have helped future recruiting and increased head coach Oliver Purnell’s credibility and stature on the recruiting trail.
As frustrating as it must be for DePaul to miss out on Alexander, there are still signs of hope for the basketball program. Oliver Purnell overhauled the team during the offseason and this season they have eight new players. Among them are freshman Billy Garrett Jr. and Tommy Hamilton IV who already are playing an important role and have impressed with the responsibility. They will have the chance to learn from Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin this year before taking over as leaders for the next three years. Coming in next year to help the freshmen is Chicago native Rashaun Stimage, who is in his second year at Daytona State College and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Stimage is an extremely athletic wing player who should contribute immediately on both ends. Purnell is moving in the right direction and the fact that the program was in contention for Alexander shows that DePaul is making a serious attempt to become a real contender in the Big East.
Other notes from Friday: Marquette picked up a key player in seven-foot center Satchel Pierce. Pierce will likely play early in his career as the Golden Eagles will lose Davante Gardner and Chris Otule to graduation. Pierce is not a very highly-ranked recruit, but he has the size and athleticism to fit nicely into Buzz Williams’ team. ESPN.com‘s scouting report says that ”Pierce is a true center with great size. He can finish, score deep in the lane, area rebound and block shots. He is a lane clogger that will be a major contributor in college if he is in shape and aggressive because he has all the tools needed to be productive in the lane.”