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Recruiting heating up in crucial offseason

Ben Gartland

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These next few weeks of the spring signing period for the NCAA are going to be crucial for DePaul men’s basketball, and there’s a few names reportedly considering DePaul that could immediately improve the roster.

As the roster stands right now, the Blue Demons have two scholarship spots open going into the 2017-18 season. Who they get to fill those two spots can make or break what will be the biggest year for men’s basketball in a very long time.

The crown jewel of potential recruits is unsigned five-star small forward Brian Bowen. Bowen, a 6-foot-7, 194 pound former high school teammate of Brandon Cyrus and Al Eichelberger, was on an unofficial visit to DePaul a few weeks ago and has an offer from DePaul, according to 247sports.com. He’s also being pursued by Michigan State, University of Arizona and Creighton, just to name a few. He’s one of the most sought after players in the nation at the moment, which makes the possibility he ends up at DePaul shaky at best. If head coach Dave Leitao can close the deal on Bowen, DePaul’s fortunes next season would improve dramatically, giving DePaul a big name and big hype going into the opening of Wintrust Arena.

Still, he has never listed DePaul in his top five, but has been rather ambiguous about the schools he is considering. Where he ends up is hard to predict.

As for other recruits, recently named NJCAA player of the year Shakur Juiston, a 6-foot-7 power forward from Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas was on an official visit this week to DePaul, according to WeAreDePaul.com. He’s the best junior college transfer available and is a former teammate of Eli Cain, who was openly recruiting him on Twitter while he was on his visit. Juiston, who averaged 17.3 points and 12.1 rebounds during his sophomore season, would be instantly available like Tre’Darius McCallum was this past season. He’s another one who is highly sought after, with reported offers from DePaul, Kansas, Iowa State and UNLV.

Another player immediately available is graduate transfer James Daniel. Daniel is a high-scoring (17 points per game his senior season) guard from Howard who would be immediately eligible and would play for DePaul for one year as he closes out his career. He reportedly has an official visit scheduled to DePaul in late May. If DePaul is looking to groom incoming four-star point guard Justin Roberts as the next starting point guard, having a graduate transfer hold that role for a year would allow Roberts and fellow point guard Devin Gage to develop more behind him.

Those are the three most exciting possibilities for the Blue Demons with some other interest as well, including Washington graduate transfer, and oft-injured forward, Matthew Atewe. The state of next year’s roster is still up in the air because the Blue Demons return four starters with Joe Hanel, Cain, Cyrus and McCallum, but an addition of Bowen or Juiston could certainly change up the starting lineup, as well as give Leitao, who kept the same starting five all season, some interesting players to put into the rotation.

DePaul could pick up on some of these players or lose out on all of them. Regardless, these next few weeks will be very interesting to watch because it will have a large impact on the performance of the Blue Demons next season. It will be a season full of unknowns with a lot of new players and a lot of new interest. Closing the deal on one of the big name recruits that have been on campus would exponentially increase that interest.

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Recruiting heating up in crucial offseason