DePaul lands preferred walk-on


Photo Courtesey of Marmion Academy Facebook

When new DePaul Blue Demon commit Mick Sullivan entered Wintrust Arena in Chicago’s South Loop on his recruiting visit at the beginning of April, he viewed the arena the same way a wide-eyed child does when he first lays eyes on his presents on Christmas morning.

“It was mind blowing, I had never seen anything like it before,” Sullivan said in a phone interview Monday evening. “It was surreal, walking into the arena and seeing the weight room, the locker room and the film room. Everything was top notch. It was amazing to be able to see that.”

The excitement in Sullivan’s voice was detectable even on the six-year-old recorder used to record a phone conversation with him. Saying he’s psyched to begin his DePaul basketball journey would be an understatement.

On Monday evening, the Aurora, Illinois-based big man, who hails from Marmion Academy, announced via Twitter his commitment to the program as a preferred walk-on. In doing so, DePaul has added another fresh-blooded recruit to its already young frontcourt.

“I think the opportunity for me as a basketball player to become better is really great,” Sullivan said regarding why he picked DePaul. “Playing in the Big East, it’s a great conference, and we’ll be playing the best competition night in and night out. It’ll be really good for me as a basketball player. It’s such a great place (and) when I visited I just fell in love with it. I went to Catholic school for high school, so the values and morals that you have there mirrored what I had already in high school, it felt like a perfect fit.”

The 6-foot-9-inch center was a double-double machine his senior season, averaging 15.7 points and 11 rebounds per game (712 career rebounds, which is third all-time in program history) while eclipsing the 1000 career points mark (he finished his career with 1,033 points, which was sixth all-time in school history). In his senior season, he shot 56.1 percent from the field, rejected 54 shots and had 24 steals. He is the all-time leader at Marmion Academy in blocks (146) and was a three-year varsity starter.

Sullivan self-assessed himself as a back-to-the-basket scorer with a reliable 15-foot jumper and as a guy who plays as hard as he can on defense. He said he needs to work on his ball handling, outside shooting and his pick-and-roll defense while acknowledging that those are often common problem areas for young big men. He credits his high school coach Antonio Young, who played Division I ball at Southern Illinois University from 2002-2007, for helping to improve his skills in many of those areas.

“He really got me ready to play at that (Division I) level,” Sullivan said. “He was a really good coach and helped develop me and my game, and he’s been really instrumental in helping me further myself as a basketball player.”

In terms of a scouting report, Young’s analysis on Sullivan was very similar to Sullivan’s own self-assessment. While Sullivan praises Young for making him a better basketball player, Young said that Sullivan made that process easier because he goes about everything the right way.

“A lot of kids have egos and are all for themselves, but Mick is one of those guys who is good to be around,” Young said. “He’s a great guy to [have] on your team. He’s willing to support [his teammates], he’s willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team. He’s not an issue at all, great student. I think all the way around he has the total package as far as being a good person, being a good teammate, being a good player and working hard. He’s just one of those program guys. ”

The tutelage from Young materialized in a flurry of awards after Sullivan’s senior season. He earned All-Area team honors from Kane County Preps and the Daily Herald and garnered second-team All-Area honors from the Kane County Chronicle. He also represented the suburbs in the Chicago City versus Suburban All-Star Game.

In addition to his exploits at Marmion, Sullivan played one season of AAU ball with the Illinois Wolves under coach Mike Mullins. He said that while his experience there was short in time, it was long in terms of the experiences he was able to have.

“It was so cool to play with a lot of those guys; a lot of my teammates are also playing Division I,” Sullivan said. “Being able to be surrounded by that talent made me a lot better. Anytime you can be surrounded by a group of guys who works hard and motivates you to work harder I think that’s what is going to happen at DePaul.”

Sullivan will join an exceedingly young Blue Demon frontcourt next season. Returners Jaylen Butz and Paul Reed will only be sophomores after shouldering significant roles during their freshmen seasons. Ukrainian big man George Maslennikov joins Sullivan as the other big man in the Blue Demons 2018 recruiting class. Sharpshooting guard John Diener rounds out the recruiting class for now, while New Zealand native Flynn Cameron has a full four years of eligibility after redshirting last season.

With the relief setting in now that he has made his college decision, the question becomes whether Sullivan can prevent his excitement from bubbling over the next several months before he officially becomes a Blue Demon.

The answer is probably no.