The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

DePaul adds three transfer players and receives a verbal commitment from another

Ryan Hinske
DePaul head coach Chris Holtmann speaks with the media after his introductory press conference on Monday, March 18, 2024, at Wintrust Arena. In the past week, Holtmann secured three transfers: Troy D’Amico, CJ Gunn, and NJ Benson.

Fresh off his hiring, DePaul head coach Chris Holtmann has been actively shaping the team by securing four new players from the transfer portal.

Holtman and his staff have officially added Troy D’Amico, a junior forward from Southern Illinois University; CJ Gunn, a sophomore guard from Indiana University; and NJ Benson, a sophomore forward from Missouri State. They also received a verbal commitment from David Thomas, a freshman guard from Mercer University, Thursday afternoon.

“We are really excited about the addition of CJ, NJ and Troy,” Holtmann said in a statement. “As we build this program, finding the right people and players are a critical first step. These young men are excited about DePaul and the opportunity to compete in one of the best leagues in college basketball.”

D’Amico, originally from Chicago and an alum of Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, Illinois, is gearing up to return to his hometown for his senior season. He transferred to DePaul over Wisconsin, Rutgers, Belmont, Liberty, Richmond, Wyoming and several other mid-major programs.

While attending Notre Dame College Prep, he achieved All-State recognition in basketball in 2021 from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. He also helped lead his team to a 29-5 record as a junior and a 15-3 record as a senior, including No.1 state rankings in Class 3A in both seasons.

The 6-foot-7 forward was a three-year player for the Salukis and appeared in 32 games this past season. He averaged 9.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 42.5% from the field and 36.4% from beyond the arc. 

D’Amico played under recently hired DePaul assistant coach Bryan Mullens, who served as Southern Illinois head coach last season.

Coming from Lawrence North High School, Gunn was a four-star rated recruit by and the third-ranked player in the state of Indiana.

During his stint with the Hoosiers over the past two seasons, Gunn saw limited playing time, only playing an average of 10.7 minutes per game. This past season, he appeared in 29 games off the bench, averaging 3.9 points and a rebound per game while shooting 34% from deep. He also achieved double-figure scoring three times, had five multi-steal games, and made at least one three-pointer in 10 games.

Benson will be Holtmann’s second local recruit, standing at 6-foot-8 and originating from Vernon, Illinois. He demonstrated significant growth from his freshman to sophomore season, averaging 8.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, all while shooting 63% from the field.

Throughout his time at Vernon Township High School in Illinois, Benson earned recognition as both conference and regional player of the year. He notably set a league record with 658 points in his senior season. The Chicago Sun-Times rated Benson as the seventh-ranked prospect in Illinois and the top power forward in the state.

Thursday afternoon saw the announcement of Thomas’s decision to join the Blue Demons after verbally committing.

The ex-Mercer guard recently concluded his freshman season, participating in 31 games, eight of which he started. He averaged 11 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 40.2% from beyond the arc.

Thomas attended Eagles Landing High School in McDonough, Georgia and earned recognition as the region’s player of the year as a senior. He was also a key member of the region’s champion as a senior, averaging 21 points per game. 

As the off-season progresses, the team is undergoing a significant transformation, with every player from last season’s roster either graduating or entering the transfer portal. Joining the four transfer players, incoming freshman Chris Riddle from Kenwood Academy remains a part of the 2024 recruiting class. 

With only five roster spots filled for next season’s team, there is still work to be done to set next season’s roster.

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