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DePaul loses prized recruit Tyger Campbell as he re-opens his recruitment

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DePaul took a major blow to its recruiting efforts as Class of 2018 four-star point guard Tyger Campbell announced that he’s opening up his recruitment.

At one point a prized recruit, who was seen as a turning point in DePaul recruiting, the 6-foot-0 Campbell will now explore all of his options in the next few months. Regarded as the No. 66 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, Campbell helped national high school powerhouse La Lumiere to a national championship this past season as the team’s starting point guard.

DePaul hired former La Lumiere head coach Shane Heirman as an assistant coach this spring and it helped lead to the commitment of Campbell in early May. Now that Campbell has decommitted and the Blue Demons also lost out on five-star Class of 2017 wing Brian Bowen, it’ll be interesting to see if Heirman can rebound when it comes to bringing in worthwhile talent.

Heirman has done a nice job of securing some of his former La Lumiere players via the transfer market, as Northern Illinois big man Marin Maric and Illinois transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands both could be beneficial to DePaul, but it’ll be interesting to see how Heirman does recruiting high school talent to the Blue Demons since he has now whiffed on two key former players.

DePaul still has a commitment from three-star guard John Diener in the Class of 2018 as they’ll look to rebound from this disappointing news.

DePaul keeps La Lumiere pipeline going with Illinois transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands

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DePaul continued to dip into its La Lumiere pipeline during its rebuilding efforts as Illinois transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands committed to the Blue Demons on Sunday night.

The 6-foot-3 Coleman-Lands just completed his sophomore season with the Illini as he averaged 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game while shooting 38 percent from three-point range. Struggling to earn consistent minutes during his two years in Champaign, Coleman-Lands is hoping to be more consistent with a move to the Big East. Coleman-Lands will need to sit out the 2017-18 season before having two more years of eligibility remaining.

Coleman-Lands is the third La Lumiere product to commit to DePaul over the last few weeks since new assistant coach Shane Heirman was brought on board. A former head coach at the national high school powerhouse in LaPorte, Indiana, Heirman has helped lure high school four-star point guard Tyger Campbell, Northern Illinois graduate transfer big man Marin Maric and now Coleman-Lands to the Blue Demons since his hiring.

It’ll be interesting to see if this group can help jump-start a DePaul program that has gone over a decade without making the NCAA tournament, but they’re at least bringing in more highly-touted talent than before.

DePaul lands five-star point guard Tyger Campbell

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DePaul made some major moves for the future on Monday as the program landed a commitment from five-star point guard Tyger Campbell.

The 6-foot-0 Campbell is regarded as a five-star prospect in the Class of 2019, but a source told NBCSports.com that Campbell is attempting to move up to the Class of 2018 to get to campus a year earlier.

Earlier on Monday, DePaul also landed a commitment from Northern Illinois graduate transfer Marin Maric, a big man who should come in and potentially start next season. Both of these commitments are tied together by DePaul hiring assistant coach Shane Heirman, the former head coach at La Lumiere, last week.

Both Maric and Campbell spent time at La Lumiere, as the Blue Demons have formed a recruiting pipeline to the defending high school national champions.

Campbell is DePaul’s second commitment in the Class of 2018–if he opts to reclassify–as he joins shooting guard John Diener.

DePaul gets potential impact grad transfer in Northern Illinois center Marin Maric

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DePaul earned a commitment from graduate transfer center Marin Maric on Monday as the former Northern Illinois product pulled his name out of the NBA Draft process and committed to the Blue Demons.

The 6-foot-11 Maric put up a team-leading 14.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for the Huskies last season as he shot 56 percent from the field. Maric also ended the season on a high note, as he had six consecutive double-doubles to close out the season.

This is a potentially important addition for DePaul since they desperately needed some quality size to go with its crowded backcourt rotation. Maric is the type of player who could start right away for DePaul and eat up minutes inside.

Entering a new stadium located in the city’s South Loop this season, the Blue Demons will have an intriguing roster that includes two transfer additions in Austin Grandstaff and Max Strus as well as freshmen like Jaylen Butz and Justin Roberts. This roster might not be good enough to make an NCAA tournament run next year, but it’s a solid core that could really help the program get out of the Big East cellar.

Big East Conference Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards

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Big East Player of the Year: Josh Hart, Villanova

Josh Hart confirmed what was almost unanimously believed¬†in November: he was the best player in the Big East. The senior wing averaged a conference-leading 18.7 points — shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three — to go along with his 6.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game for first-place Villanova. One of the best two-way players in the nation also had some of his best single-game performances outside of the conference slate.

Big East Coach of the Year: Ed Cooley, Providence

Two days before Christmas, Providence closed out the non-conference slate with a loss at Boston College. The Friars followed by dropping the first two conference games. All three losses were by a dozen or more points. Yet, this team — without Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil — is in possession of another 20-win season, and tied¬†the highest finish Providence has had since the conference’s relaunch. This is a competitive race, especially when you consider what Chris Holtmann and Steve Wojciechowski has done. And that doesn’t include Jay Wright’s continued dominance. But Cooley took a young roster with all the makings of a rebuild and turned it, in all likelihood, a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

First-Team All-Big East

  • Josh Hart, Villanova
  • Andrew Chrabascz, Butler: The statistics don’t jump off the page, but the senior forward impacts the game in so many different ways for a Butler team that was projected to finish sixth, but ended as the No. 2 seed.
  • Jalen Brunson, Villanova: Taking the full-time ball handling duties this season, the sophomore averaged 14.8 points per game, shooting 54 percent from the field. He also registered a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • Angel Delgado, Seton Hall: The nation’s leading rebounder (13.1 RPG) has recorded 24 double-doubles this season. He’s also improved his offense, posting 15.7 points per game.
  • Marcus Foster, Creighton: The transfer guard is second in the conference in scoring at 18.5 points per game. He’s taken on a bigger role since Watson’s season-ending injury.

Second Team All-Big East:

  • Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
  • Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall
  • Kyron Cartwright,¬†Providence
  • Kelan Martin,¬†Butler
  • Justin Patton, Creighton

RELATED: Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | NBC Sports All-Americans

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Villanova brought the Big East the national championship in 2016,¬†ending critcism of the program’s shortcomings in March and providing the league with an added level of legitiamcy it yearned for since its relaunch in 2013.

So, what will the Big East do for an encore? The conference might send 70 percent of its members to the NCAA Tournament.

Like the previous three seasons, the league was dominated by Villanova, which won its fourth consecutive regular season championship. Butler finished second, and spent much of the year in the top-20. Creighton looked every part of a Final Four contender until Maurice Watson Jr. tore his ACL in mid-January. Xavier, which began the season ranked, has struggled since Edmond Sumner suffered the same season-ending injury. Marquette, Providence and Seton Hall have all made late pushes for at-large bids, resulting in a wild finish to the regular season. Four days in New York should be eventual, to say the least.

The Bracket

When: March 8-11

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City

Final: Saturday, March 11 5:30 p.m.

Favorite: Villanova

This should come as a surprise to no one. This reigning national champions enter the World’s Most Famous Arena as the top seed for the fourth straight¬†season. Villanova has at its disposal the conference’s player of the year, another unanimous first-team selection, a national coach of the year candidate and the athleticism and versatility not many teams can brag about. Depth is a concern, with Phil Booth out for the season and Darryl Reynolds, the only true big man in the rotation, recently returning from injury. It’s also worth noting that two of three Big East losses came against the same opponent.

And if they lose?: Butler

The Bulldogs have twice defeated the Wildcats. They did so in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Jan. 4, handing Villanova its first loss of the season. Butler went for the sweep by knocking off the Cats on Feb. 22, the only time they lost at the Pavilion this season. In both contests, Butler made the key plays down the stretch for hard-fought victories. Butler has an improved defense from last season to compliment with its always-efficient offense. With a big like Andrew Chrabascz, the Bulldogs are more equipped to match up with Villanova. Also, Kelan Martin, since his move to a reserve role, has caught fire in the last five games of the regular season.

Kelan Martin (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Other Contenders:

  • Providence: The Friars have won six straight, with wins over Butler, Xavier, Creighton and Marquette.¬†Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock may not be Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, but they are anchoring a hot team that could give Providence its second postseason championship in four years.
  • Marquette:¬†The Golden Eagles are the only Big East team team other than the Bulldogs to defeat Villanova. They have a nice balance with a deep roster. Five players average double-digits in points, and Andrew Rowsey, the Big East Sixth Man of the Year, and Katin Reinhardt have been¬†huge in the second unit.

Sleeper: Seton Hall

The Pirates played strong basketball down the stretch last season to win the Big East Tournament championship. Isaiah Whitehead is playing in a different borough now, but Seton Hall is rolling, winners of seven of nine. The defense isn’t as strong as it was during last year’s run, but Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez are capable of a repeat performance.

The Bubble Dwellers:

  • Xavier: The Musketeers lost six of seven to close out the season. They have two wins in the past five weeks: both against DePaul. A loss to the Blue Demons on Wednesday night could¬†burst Xavier’s bubble.
  • Marquette: The Golden Eagles¬†should be safe at this point. Sure, they earned a come-from-behind win against Villanova, but that won’t stop critics from poking holes in their resume on Sunday, especially when four wins against Xavier and Creighton came after injuries to Edmond Sumner and Mo Watson.
  • Providence:¬†A six-game winning streak and a third-place finish should mean the Friars are safe, but most bracket projections have them as one of the last at-large four¬†bids.

Defining moment of the season: Marquette, down 17 points, comes back to stun No. 1 Villanova, starting a run for the NCAA Tournament.

CBT Prediction: Villanova

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.