Newcomers look to make a difference on men’s roster


Amber Stoutenborough

Junior forward Da’Sean Nelson throws down a dunk in DePaul’s season opening 72-66 win over Loyola (MD).

The 2022-23 DePaul men’s basketball roster will look different in head coach Tony Stubblefield’s second season. Stubblefield was more active in being able to land higher talented players, as the Blue Demons look to be more competitive in the Big East.

As old faces exit, new faces prepare to start their DePaul basketball careers, whether those players are fresh out of high school, or are coming in through the NCAA transfer portal.  

This offseason, Stubblefield and his staff started restructuring the roster, landing four-star shooting guard Zion Cruz, from Simi Valley, Calif. Cruz is DePaul’s highest rated recruit since the days of Mac Koshwal and Wilson Chandler.

The transfer portal has been friendly to the Blue Demons, giving them added depth for the upcoming season. 

Guards Umoja Gibson and Caleb Murphy both transferred to DePaul for the upcoming season, giving the Blue Demons more depth and experience to a thin backcourt. 

Gibson comes from Oklahoma University, where he spent his junior season posting new career-high stats. He posted highs in points, averaging 13.3 per game, minutes with 32.1 and shooting percentage at 43.5 percent from the field. 

After two seasons at the University of South Florida, Murphy, who will miss the first month or so due to a wrist injury, led his USF team in scoring with 11.4 points. As a combo guard capable of running the offense, Murphy can get to his spots and attack the basket. The Atlanta, Ga. native struggled from three in his first two seasons, which kept him from expanding his game. In his freshman season, he shot 19.4 percent and followed up his sophomore season shooting 20 percent from behind the arc. 

DePaul also added De’Sean Nelson, a Kilgore Community College commit in Kilgore, Texas. Nelson can work alongside Brandon Johnson and develop into a stretch-four forward who can be aggressive on both ends and have the ability to shoot the three. 

In DePaul’s season opening 72-66 win over Loyola (MD), Gibson tallied 12 points and added six assists, while fellow newcomer Nelson scored 10 points and nabbed four rebounds. Penn recorded eight points and five rebounds, respectively.

KT Raimey, a Division II guard at 6-foot-4, has lots of length and scoring abilities. Transferring from the College of Southern Idaho, Raimey received offers from other big schools in West Virginia, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. 

Eral Penn is another newcomer to DePaul’s roster. The Long Island University transfer averaged 17.1 points per game while shooting 42.8 percent from three. Penn was also active on the defensive end, averaging nearly two steals and a block per game. 

The DePaul roster took a hit losing Javon Freeman-Liberty to the NBA draft and David Jones to St. Johns. The Blue Demons will still maintain returning players Jalen Terry, Javon Johnson, Nick Ongenda, Ahamd Bynum, Philmon Gebrewhit and Yor Anei, though Ongenda recently sustained an injury and is ruled out for the foreseeable future. 

Along with the returning players, the Blue Demons will get to see Chicago native Ahamad Bynum, a four-star recruit from the Chicago area, in action for the first time. Bynum redshirted for the 2021-22 season. 

With a good portion of players returning for their second season together, the focus for Stubblefield and the Blue Demons is to be more of a competitive team in the Big East conference play. The Blue Demons fell short in plenty of games last season after a strong first 10 games that fell apart in the second half of the schedule. 

As the season gets under way, Stubblefield and the coaching staff will have roles for all newcomers, lots of which will be included into the starting lineup. Experience is a large part of why DePaul will see the newcomers making a big impact in the Big East as they hope to change the overall culture of DePaul men’s basketball.