Dave Leitao officially announces 2021 recruiting class

Dave+Leitao+looks+on+during+the+Blue+Demons%27+game+against+Butler+on+Feb.+29.+

Ryan Gilroy | The DePaulia

Dave Leitao looks on during the Blue Demons’ game against Butler on Feb. 29.

DePaul has waited a long time to have a nationally-ranked recruiting class filled with talent and depth. But the Blue Demons have finally been able to make those dreams become a reality.

On Tuesday, Head Coach Dave Leitao announced DePaul’s 2021 recruiting class that is ranked as high as No. 9 by 247 Sports. DePaul’s class features five players — Ahamad Bynum, Keon Edwards, Brett Hardt Jr., David Jones and Kok Yat — who make up one of the deepest classes in the country.

“We wanted to try to amass a good amount of talent in this recruiting class with a premium that we wanted to have was overall skill. Everyone in this group brings a particular skill package that will help us,” Leitao said in a statement. “The difficulty in this whole process is that no one has been on campus and we as a staff have not been off campus to recruit. It has been a challenge and credit goes to our whole staff that did a phenomenal job in identifying people even before the pandemic and creating and developing relationships with recruits and those around them. We feel this is the start of something great for our program and a place where people will look differently at DePaul basketball than they have before.

Four out of the five players are four-star recruits — Bynum, Edwards, Yat and Jones — while Hardt Jr. is currently ranked as a two-star. 

All five players made sure to sign their national letter of intent in the early signing period, which runs from Nov. 11-18. Bynum, who was the first to verbally commit to the Blue Demons a year ago, was also the first to sign his NLI last Wednesday. 

“[An] explosive guard that can score, pass, play defense and facilitate on the floor,” Bynum told The DePaulia about the type of player he is. 

Signing a player like Bynum is important on multiple levels because not only is he a versatile guard, but he is also one of the best Chicago players in his class. DePaul has made an effort in recent years to recruit some of the city’s most talented players, and have been able to land the likes of Charlie Moore and Markese Jacobs.

“It’s been something long talked about, not just in my tenure here but for many, many years here in Chicago because it’s such a hotbed for talent,” Leitao said during a Zoom press conference on Wednesday. “So, Ahamad is somebody who’s been with us for awhile, he committed a long time ago, and I think it speaks to the relationships we have built. Specifically, [assistant] coach Tim Anderson and his relationship with Ahamad and his family. Will Bynum, [Ahamad’s] uncle, and Tim have long been very close, and I have known Will for a long time. It allowed [Ahamad] to feel very comfortable staying home, being a product of Chicago, representing the city and having great pride in doing so.”

The rest of DePaul’s class is made up of national recruits featuring multiple top-100 players. Edwards was the second player to verbally commit to the Blue Demons in January, and is ranked No. 41 by ESPN. Last season, he played at Hillcrest Prep in Arizona, averaging 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.9 blocks in 18 games.

The Blue Demons were also able to sign two more four-star forwards, Yat and Jones, who will provide the team with versatility out on the wing.

Jones, who is a native of the Dominican Republic, came over to the U.S. to play for Teays Valley Christian in West Virginia. As a junior, Jones averaged 24 points per game and was hovering around 30 points per game towards the end of the season. 

Yat is the final four-star recruit for the Blue Demons, but he also has a chance to play a major role in DePaul’s frontcourt in the future. And the final part of DePaul’s recruiting class is Hardt Jr., who is finishing his high school career at PHHoenix Prep in Arizona. 

Last season, he averaged 14.7 points, 7.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds while leading his team to 35 wins. As a guard, Hardt Jr. has shown the ability to lead an offense and create his own shot against some of the better players in the country. 

“I’m so glad to be a Blue Demon and can’t wait to get on campus,” Hardt Jr. told The DePaulia. “It’s going to be a great four years.”