Strus is no longer on the loose; announces return to DePaul after declaring for NBA draft


Max Strus notched his first double-double as a Blue Demon Saturday at St. John’s with 22 points and 10 rebounds. (Konrad Markowski/The DePaulia)

A key piece in the DePaul Blue Demon men’s basketball puzzle has decided to return to Lincoln Park for his senior season.

After declaring for the NBA draft at the end of March but not signing with an agent which opened up the possibility for a return to the college basketball ranks, Blue Demon star wing player Max Strus will spend his senior season wearing the blue and red of DePaul.

“I’m glad I was able to go through the process and receive feedback from NBA teams,” Strus said via a statement released by the university this morning. “Now we can look forward to my senior season at DePaul and we’re already working and getting better this spring as a team. We can’t wait to see everyone back at Wintrust Arena in November.”

Today was the final day the NCAA allowed athletes to withdraw their name from NBA draft consideration and still retain their collegiate eligibility. Strus didn’t receive an invite to the NBA draft combine in mid-May, but did participate in private workouts with several NBA teams.

Strus is a 6-foot-6-inch wing player who has garnered praise for his motor, competitive edge, and athleticism. He can score from anywhere on the floor and finished 11th in the Big East Conference in scoring average (16.8 points per game) last season despite commanding the attention of the opposition’s best defender on a nightly basis and frequently having to navigate through double teams as well. He’s also a tenacious rebounder for his size and position, averaging 5.6 boards per game.

Strus projects as the best player on a Blue Demon team with a number of intriguing pieces for next season. Fellow senior Eli Cain has been a quality player in the Big East his entire career, while Femi Olujobi brings experience and scoring chops to Chicago as a gradate transfer from North Carolina A&T. Jalen Coleman-Lands, who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules, and freshman John Diener will add shooting to a team that shot a Big East-worst 31 percent from 3-point range last season. Justin Roberts, Paul Reed, and Jaylen Butz all had solid freshmen seasons and will look to take another step in their development this winter.

But there’s a lot of work to be done after head coach Dave Leitao and his crew finished 11-20 (4-14) last season.