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The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Holtmann bolsters roster with three more transfers and multiple coaches

Coastal+Carolina+guard+Jacob+Meyer+%2812%29+loses+control+of+the+ball+against+James+Madison+forward+Raekwon+Horton+during+the+second+half+of+an+NCAA+college+basketball+game+in+Harrisonburg%2C+Va.%2C+Thursday%2C+Feb.+1%2C+2024.
Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP
Coastal Carolina guard Jacob Meyer (12) loses control of the ball against James Madison forward Raekwon Horton during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Harrisonburg, Va., Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024.

In his first offseason as head coach, Chris Holtmann is actively reshaping DePaul’s men’s basketball team, bringing in three new recruits from the transfer portal and welcoming Bryan Mullins and Jack Owens to the coaching staff while also retaining assistant coach Paris Parham.

Holtmann is expected to bring John McCausland and Tyler Hicks onto the staff as well, with McCausland serving as Director of Basketball Operations and Hicks as Director of Men’s Basketball Recruiting.

Over the last week, the team officially signed three players: freshman guard David Thomas from Mercer, senior guard Isaiah Rivera from the University of Illinois Chicago, and freshman guard Jacob Meyer from Coastal Carolina.

Thomas wrapped up his freshman season after appearing in 31 games, eight of which he started. He averaged 11 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game and shot 40.2% from deep. Following his standout performance at Mercer, Thomas transfers to DePaul with three more years of eligibility.

“David (Thomas) is a young, athletic guard who has the ability to shoot the ball at a high level,” Holtmann said in a statement. “He can guard multiple positions due to his strength. While he had a good first year at Mercer, I know David is excited about competing for DePaul and continuing to grow his game here.”

Rivera began his college career at Colorado State, where he spent three years before transferring to UIC in 2023. Now, with only one year of eligibility remaining, his experience could set him up for a pivotal role with the Blue Demons for next season.

“Isaiah (Rivera) is a gifted scorer who really possesses a good feel for the game,” Holtmann said in a statement. “He has shown the ability to shoot the ball off the catch and bounce. In talking with him, he expressed a real desire to continue to grow as a player on both ends of the court. He can play either wing position and has been really well coached during his collegiate career. We are excited about his impact and continued growth as a player here at DePaul.”

The 6-foot-5 guard was a two-year player for the Flames and appeared in 33 games this past season. He averaged 15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 46% from the field and 41.6% from three. Rivera, a standout at Geneseo High School, was ranked as a top 100 ESPN small forward and seventh overall among high school prospects in Illinois.

Meyer officially signed with DePaul after his freshman season at Coastal Carolina and will have three years of eligibility remaining. The former Chanticleer finished his freshman season appearing in 31 games, all in which he started, averaging 15.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, while shooting 45% from the field and 40.2% from beyond the arc.

“Jacob is a talented scorer who had an outstanding prep career in Kentucky and a very good freshman year at Coastal Carolina,” Holtmann said in a statement. “He’s confident and aggressive and has the ability to play on and off the ball. He understands the challenges that come with the BIG EAST and is looking forward to getting to work and growing his game to help DePaul. We are excited about the addition of Jacob to our team.”

Meyer is from Covington, Kentucky, and attended Holy Cross High School, where he became one of the top all-time leading scorers in Kentucky high school basketball history. He finished his career with 3,280 points, a record for his region. 

As Holtmann focuses on recruiting players for the 2024 season, he’s also building his coaching staff. One of his first moves was adding his former Ohio State assistant coach, Jack Owens.

“After working with Jack (Owens) over the last several years I know firsthand how much he adds to a coaching staff,” Holtmann said in a statement. “His background in leading his own program as well as his experience as an assistant makes him an incredibly well-rounded coach. Jack has experience in all aspects of the game and is a tremendous talent developer, coach and recruiter. We are excited for him and his family to join us in Chicago.”

Owens is one of several assistants on Holtmann’s staff who bring past head coaching experience. He previously served as the head coach of Miami (OH) from 2017 to 2022 and as an assistant coach on Matt Painter’s staff at Purdue for nine seasons.

In addition to Owens, Holtmann will hire former Southern Illinois head coach Bryan Mullins to his staff. Over his five-season tenure at SIU, Mullins compiled an 86-68 record, with his best season coming in 2022-23 when he led the Saulkies to a 23-10 record. Returning to Chicago, Mullins brings familiarity as a native of Downers Grove, Illinois He began his coaching journey at Loyola Chicago, where he served six seasons on Porter Moser’s staff.

“Bryan is a talented coach and someone who has deep connections in the state of Illinois,” Holtmann said in a statement. “His success as an assistant on Loyola’s Final Four run speaks for itself. The Mullins name has been an important part of basketball in this state for many years. Bryan has earned a reputation as an incredibly bright basketball mind, tireless worker and excellent player developer. We are thrilled to add Bryan and his family to the DePaul family.”

In addition to Owens and Mullins, Holtmann is also expected to retain assistant coach Paris Parham, who recently served in the same role on former DePaul head coach Tony Stubblefield’s staff. Parham will be the only coach returning from the previous regime as of now.

“Paris is someone I have known and respected for several years,” Holtmann said in a statement. “He has great recruiting contacts and experience working in both Chicago and the state of Illinois. Paris has worked for some coaches I know and respect. He loves DePaul and is committed to bringing success to this program. We are excited to have Paris a part of our coaching staff.”

Holtmann’s offseason remains active as he navigates the recruitment process. Six players have been officially signed from the transfer portal, and commitments have been secured from three-star forward Chris Riddle of Kenwood Academy and Sekou Konneh of St. Thomas More. 

This leaves the program with five scholarships yet to be filled for the 2024 recruiting class.

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