Transfer Update: Blue Demons add Henry, Kirk leaves for Miami

Former Illinois forward Myke Henry is transferring to DePaul, the team announced Tuesday, making him the sixth new player acquired during this offseason.

Henry, a 6-foot-6-inch junior, will have to sit out for the 2013-2014 season under NCAA guidelines. However, he will still have two seasons of eligibility remaining when he returns.

At Illinois, Henry averaged 3.2 points and 2.1 rebounds a game during his sophomore year.  

“Myke’s a really good athlete and has a chance to be a really good player,” Oliver Purnell, head coach, said. “We loved him as a prospect coming out of high school and nothing has changed in that regard. He’s a Chicago product and he’s one of the ones that we want to build this program with.”

Henry was a star at Orr Academy High School in Chicago, averaging 25 points and 11 rebounds as a senior. Henry was also considered a top 100 prospect. Once he was available, Purnell jumped on the chance to get him to DePaul.

“We talked about setting up a visit firsthand, which we did not have the opportunity to do before (when Henry was coming out of high school),” Purnell said. “We talked to him a couple of weeks before his official visit. I thought we had a terrific weekend. Our players were really good relating to him and he really related well with them.”

Henry’s addition makes him the third Chicago-area prospect that DePaul has successfully recruited this year. Guard Billy Garret Jr., from Morgan Park Academy, and forward Tommy Hamilton Jr., originally from Whitney Young High School, are the other two.

Purnell said that the recently announced arena in the South Loop has helped secure Chicago prospects.

“We’ve got three kids coming in from the Chicago Public League,” Purnell said. “Before this town, (kids from the Chicago Public League have) been something very hard to recruit. We talked about the possibility of the arena and without question, it’s given us some momentum on the recruiting front and generated some excitement.”

Meanwhile, forward Donnavan Kirk is taking his talents back to South Beach.

Kirk was granted his release in late May to seek a transfer to other schools. On June 12, the University of Miami announced that Kirk will be transferring there for his fifth year of eligibility.

Kirk will be rejoining Miami after two years at DePaul. The 6-foot-9-inch forward spent his freshman year there.  

According to Purnell, Kirk said that the opportunity to win and pursue a better education at Miami for his master’s degree were the reasons for his transfer. Kirk was unavailable for comment.

“My reaction was, one, my own surprise,”  Purnell said. “Those reasons seemed to change and didn’t seem very logical to me. I felt like Don (Kirk) was hurt much of his first year with us and really played a great deal his second year with us. He really started to gain experience and get his feet wet and played better towards the end of the year.

“I just didn’t feel like he was being patient and taking the responsibility of being an impact guy to get us over the top,” Purnell said. “But you have to respect what his opinions are and certainly you don’t want someone here who doesn’t want that responsibility or want to be here.”

The Blue Demons have added Purdue’s Sandi Marcius, Tommy Hamilton Jr., Forrest Robinson and Greg Squeale to significantly alter the rotation of DePaul’s front court next season. Coach Purnell told The DePaulia that he looked at the new big men as an opportunity to get better.

Kirk, on the other hand, will bring additional depth to the forward position. The Hurricanes had three forwards that graduated after this season, so Kirk will provide some much needed size.

“We are excited to welcome Donnavan back to the University of Miami,” Hurricanes Coach Jim Larranaga said in a press release. “He is an experienced front court player who excels at running the floor, blocking shots and scoring in a variety of ways. Donnavan is passionate about the University of Miami and we look forward to working with him as he pursues his master’s degree.”