Dave Leitao

DePaul lands a commitment from an eighth grader

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DePaul has its first commit in the Class of 2022.

Yes, the Blue Demons received a verbal commitment from an eighth grader on Friday night.

Amari Bailey, who currently attends Mark T. Skinner West Elementary School in Chicago, announced via Twitter that he will remain in the city for his college career, according to Mike O’Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I am staying home,” he said in a tweet. “I verbally commit to DePaul. I’ve always wanted to play for my city and I’m not too young to know that I wanna put on for my city.”

The tweet was sent out through the Twitter account of Meanstreets, a grassroots program that currently plays in the Nike EYBL. On Thursday, DePaul added Tim Anderson, a Meanstreets coach, as an assistant.

A commitment made this far in advance is hardly a sure thing. There have been several cautionary tales over the years, including one that DePaul dealt with first hand.

In 2005, 15-year-old Cully Payne, who was from suburban Chicago, committed to the Blue Demons. Payne would back out of that commitment three years later. He later picked Alabama but would request a release from his letter of intent. He eventually wound up at Iowa before transferring to Loyola (Ill.). In his final collegiate season, Payne would record a season-high 24 points in a 69-61 victory over DePaul, giving the Ramblers their first win over the Blue Demons since 1989.

While it’s fair to be skeptical of this commitment, it shows that Dave Leitao’s offseason coaching hires are yielding immediate results on the recruiting trail. Leitao added Shane Heirman, who headed the La Lumiere Prep powerhouse, to his staff this spring. Graduate transfer Marin Maric, Illinois transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands, and Tyger Campbell, a four-star 2018 point guard, all have ties to Heirman.

DePaul lands well-traveled shooting guard

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DePaul added a perimeter option to its future rotation Monday afternoon, as NBCSports.com confirmed that former Ohio State shooting guard Austin Grandstaff has decided to join the Big East program. DePaul represents the third Division I program that the Texan has been a part of, as he decided to transfer from Ohio State to Oklahoma back in December.

Grandstaff was due to sit out until the end of the fall 2016 semester after making that move, but he decided in the spring to leave Lon Kruger’s program. With the decision to transfer once again, Grandstaff will need to apply for a waiver that would get him on the court after the upcoming fall semester. If a waiver were to be denied, he’d have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2017-18 campaign.

The 6-foot-5 Grandstaff played in ten games at Ohio State, averaging 4.4 points in 11.5 minutes of action per contest. His high point total came in a home loss to Louisiana Tech, as he scored nine points in 12 minutes of playing time that night.

Grandstaff shot 39 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three, with 36 of his 41 field goal attempts being three-pointers. When he signed with Ohio State in May 2014, Grandstaff was ranked 44th in the Class of 2015 by Rivals.com, with his shooting ability being one of the key reasons why.

DePaul will lose four perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season, led by Billy Garrett Jr., so the addition of Grandstaff will help the Blue Demons from a depth standpoint.

Bluiett helps No. 7 Xavier cruise past DePaul 86-65

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ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) Trevon Bluiett scored 15 points and No. 7 Xavier used an impressive burst spanning the halves to put away DePaul for an 86-65 victory on Saturday.

The Musketeers trailed 32-25 before they ripped off 29 of the next 34 points to grab control. J.P. Macura made a 3-pointer and two free throws during a 17-1 run over the final 3:43 of the first half, and Bluiett had two layups and a jumper to help Xavier open a 54-37 lead with 16:13 remaining.

Macura and Larry Austin Jr. had 12 points apiece for the Musketeers (19-2, 7-2 Big East), who have won three in a row since their 81-72 home loss against Georgetown on Jan. 19.

DePaul (7-14, 1-8) lost for the eighth time in its last nine games.

The Blue Demons struggled to score after Xavier switched to a 1-3-1 zone late in the first half and never recovered.

Tommy Hamilton IV scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, and Billy Garrett Jr. finished with 18 points. But DePaul committed 15 turnovers and its reserves finished with just 12 points, compared to 42 for Xavier’s backups.

The Blue Demons also were hurt by a pair of costly fouls on Joe Hanel late in the first half. The sophomore forward was called for over the back while going for a rebound, and then went chest to chest with Jalen Reynolds, drawing a technical.

The result was a pair of free throws for Myles Davis and Reynolds and a 40-32 lead for Xavier with 1:14 to go. Edmond Sumner tacked on a jumper for the Musketeers with 22 seconds left, and the Blue Demons trailed by nine at the break after leading by as many as nine in the early going.

Reynolds and Davis each scored 10 for Xavier, which led by as many as 26 on its way to its five win in the last six games in the series. The Musketeers also beat the Blue Demons 84-64 on Jan. 12.

TIP-INS

Xavier: Bluiett had two points on 1-for-4 shooting in the first half. … The Musketeers earned their fourth consecutive Big East road win. They also improved to 9-1 away from Cintas Center this season. … Xavier missed its first nine shots of the game and 11 of its first 12 overall.

DePaul: Women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno was recognized during the first half with a commemorative ball in honor of his 600th career win on Jan. 15 at Butler. … Hamilton fouled out with 5:35 left.

UP NEXT

Xavier hosts St. John’s on Wednesday night.

DePaul hosts No. 10 Providence on Tuesday night.

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

French pro team Caen Calvados has some fun at DePaul’s expense

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One of four Big East programs taking summer trips overseas, DePaul is hoping that this summer is the beginning of a second successful run at the school for head coach Dave Leitao. Leitao led the program for three seasons from 2002-05, a stretch that included DePaul’s last NCAA tournament berth in 2004.

The Blue Demons are currently in France, where Wednesday they played their first game of the trip against pro club Caen Calvados and the result wasn’t a good one. A late first quarter run gave Caen a 15-point lead at the of the first stanza, and they would go on to win by the final score of 96-62. Caen shot 14-for-28 from three on the night, outscoring DePaul 42-3 from beyond the arc while shooting better than 58 percent from the field.

And if the result wasn’t bad enough, Caen tweeted out a GIF of boxing great Muhammad Ali following the win.

To quote Dave Chappelle’s version of Rick James, “that was cold-blooded.” According to Caen’s social media director it was an good-natured exchange that began six days before the game was played.

The Blue Demons can redeem itself when they play their next game on the trip Sunday evening.

DePaul head coach Dave Leitao takes singing lessons (VIDEO)

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New (and old) DePaul head coach Dave Leitao will be singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game at the Chicago Cubs game on May 14th, and in preparation for that seminal moment in his coaching tenure, Leitao made sure to get some singing lessons.

We’ve got it on video. DePaul fans, you have to hope Leitao is a better coach than he is a singer:

DePaul announces two additions to Dave Leitao’s coaching staff

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With the first of two evaluation periods this month set to begin in a matter of hours, programs that have made head coaching hires recently are looking to complete their coaching staffs. One of those programs is DePaul, which hired Dave Leitao in late March.

Friday morning, the school officially announced the hiring of Rick Carter as associate head coach and the retention of Billy Garrett Sr. as an assistant on Leitao’s staff. Carter comes over from fellow Big East program Xavier, where he was a member of Chris Mack’s staff for the last two seasons. Prior to his move to Xavier, Carter worked alongside Leitao at Missouri during the 2012-13 season.

As for Garrett Sr. he continued to recruit for DePaul after Oliver Purnell was relieved of his duties last month, and his son Billy Garrett Jr. will be the team’s leading returnee in 2015-16. These moves leave Leitao with one opening to fill on his coaching staff.

“We are excited to announce the addition of Rick Carter to our staff and Billy Garrett continuing his tenure at DePaul,” Leitao said in the release. “Both Rick and Billy bring extensive recruiting experience locally in Chicago, regionally in the Midwest and throughout the nation.

“Rick’s relentless energy with our current roster and in recruiting future players will be contagious for everyone involved in the program. I’ve known Billy for a long time on the recruiting trail. His resources and experience are invaluable for us as we move forward with the DePaul basketball program.”