DePaul basketball expresses excitement for upcoming seasons at Chicago College Basketball Luncheon


Darcy Waskiewicz

Women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno (left) and Men’s coach Tony Stubblefield (center) at the Chicago Basketball Luncheon Wednesday.

The basketball seasons are right around the corner, and the DePaul men’s and women’s basketball teams celebrated at the Chicago College Basketball Luncheon this Tuesday.

The luncheon consisted of players from DePaul, Chicago State University, Loyola University Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as the head coaches from each team.

From the DePaul men’s basketball team, forward Brandon Johnson and guard Javon Freeman-Liberty were there to represent the Blue Demons.

A graduate student from Chicago, Johnson recently transferred after playing last season at the University of Minnesota. He came to DePaul for a fifth year after the pandemic impacted his senior year and is now able to play in his hometown near family.

“Just being home, playing at home,” Johnson said. “It’s a blessing just to be back here and another couple hours away from my house, being able to play in front of my family and friends and having it be a short drive for them as well too.”

Freeman-Liberty, another Chicago native, joined the DePaul squad in 2020 after transferring from Valparaiso University. Now a senior, he’s ready to play his final season in a packed Wintrust Arena for the first time.

“Just having fans back, really,” Freeman-Liberty said. “We were playing in empty arenas [where] you could probably hear a pin drop in the arenas.”

Johnson, among a few others on the team, and the new men’s head coach Tony Stubblefield will be making their DePaul debut at Wintrust on Nov. 4 for an exhibition game against Montevallo University.

“We’re excited to be able to have fans and be able to come back out. Wintrust is a great arena to play in,” Stubblefield said. “Been fortunate to go to some of the [Chicago] Sky’s games, so I see the impact that the crowd can have, the noise in there, the acoustics of the building, so just looking forward to having Blue Demon fans back out in the crowd and supporting the team.”

From the women’s team, guard Deja Church and guard Kendall Holmes attended the luncheon, representing the Blue Demons.

A graduate student, Church transferred to DePaul in 2019 after two years at the University of Michigan. Last season, she had 42 steals and 11 blocks, which put her second on the team in both those categories.

“We have a real competitive non-conference schedule,” Church said. “We get to play Texas A&M again; we lost to them last year by one point, so we’re all looking forward to that rematch. Get to play Northwestern; we didn’t play them last year.”

After playing her freshman year in empty arenas last season, Holmes will be making her debut in front of fans at Wintrust this season. She is also bouncing back from a knee injury that forced her to sit out the last 15 games of last season.

“I’m just looking forward to our team coming back after kind of a tough end to the season,” Holmes said. “And just getting back on the court and playing together and just showing everybody what we actually have and what we’ve been working on over the season because we’ve been gearing up for a really exciting season.”

Along with the players and coaches, DePaul athletic director DeWayne Peevy was also in attendance, as was Loyola Chicago’s iconic cheerleader, Sister Jean.

The women kick off their season at Wintrust on Nov. 9 against Texas Southern University, while the men open their season the next night at home against Coppin State University.