Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia
Former DePaul guard Eli Cain has signed with the MBC Mykolaiv of the Ukrainan basketball league, he announced on his Instagram on Friday.
Cain played for the Blue Demons from 2015-19, starting 127 of the 129 games he played for the Big East team. Coming over from New Jersey, Cain was one of head coach Dave Leitao’s first recruits when he was hired in 2015.
“We both came in together four years ago, that’s the goal we had, we went through the trenches those first three years, last year we saw it we were there we lost multiple games by under five points,” Cain said after his final home game in 2019. “This year we were able to pull some of those games out.”
Leitao didn’t waste any time giving Cain playing time in his freshman year, with the 6-foot-6 guard playing in all 31 games and earning a spot on the Big East All-Freshman Team. Cain spent his sophomore year starting all 32 games while scoring 500 points for the Blue Demons.
In year three, however, Cain was forced to play more as the team’s point guard with the injury to Devin Gage in game eight of the 2017-18 season. As a point guard, Cain picked up 146 assists and finished sixth in the Big East with 4.7 assists per game and assist-to-turnover ratio.
In the summer of 2018, Cain also helped team USA win the gold medal at the FISU America Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
But Cain’s senior year is when DePaul finally took a leap in the winning record. The Blue Demons finished the 2019-2020 season with a 19-17 record, the program’s first winning record since the 2006-07 season. Cain also became the first player in program history with 1,400 career points, 350 assists and 150 3-pointers.
“[He] was the same guy,” Leitao said after the Blue Demons win over Georgetown in 2019. “I think that’s one of the biggest keys to being able to maintain yourself and play through highs and lows and he had a tremendous, tremendous game today all the way around again starting with how he defended and got through screens which they set a ton of them and that’s the way you want to go out as a senior.”
DePaul also saw a jump in its conference record by finishing 7-11, but that wasn’t good enough to take them out of last place. But the Blue Demons were able to secure a spot in the CBI Tournament. Cain and DePaul made it all the way to the best-of-three championship series, but lost in three games to South Florida.
Cain was one of the driving forces of trying to bring back DePaul back to a postseason tournament. Max Strus, who also graduated in 2019, and Cain created a dynamic duo for two years after Strus transferred over from Lewis. Strus went undrafted last summer, but signed with the Chicago Bulls prior to the 2019-20 season.
“That was a special way to go out for us tonight,” Strus said after DePaul’s win over Georgetown in 2019. “I mean we were both wide open a lot it was good to find each other so that’s what we’ve been trying to do and we’re trying to get this program going up on the upwards trend that’s what we’re trying to leave our legacy on building this DePaul program and I think we’re moving in the right direction I think tonight really showed that and I hope our fans are excited for what’s coming next.”
Cain will now begin his professional basketball career. MBC Mykolaiv has never finished higher than fifth in the Ukrainian SuperLeague, and has only made the quarterfinals of the Ukrainan Cup.