Just last week Jabari Parker, one of the top prospects in the 2013 class, tweeted the list of ten schools still in the running for his services.
The group read off like a who’s who of college basketball royalty, including the likes of Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Michigan State with those programs having enjoyed recent success.
The one school that didn’t necessarily fit in: DePaul.
It’s easy to look at the Blue Demons of now and wonder how on Earth they could find themselves still in the running for such an outstanding player.
Since joining the Big East in 2005, DePaul has posted just one winning record (20-14 in 2006-07) and has seemingly had reservations for the Tuesday at noon match-up in the Big East Championship.
But landing Parker, while seemingly a long shot (important to note that neither Parker nor his family has given any kind of leader), would be just the boost that Oliver Purnell’s program needs according to David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
The example cited in his piece: Mark Aguirre, who decided to remain home in the Windy City and play for then-coach Ray Meyer.
“I just suddenly realized Chicago was for me,” recalled Aguirre, one of the nation’s top high school players at Westinghouse in 1978. “Can’t explain it. I could have gone to any school I wanted but enjoyed the fact that rarely are you going to play in a big city where everybody knows you like that. The more I thought about it, Chicago was who I am, in my blood, comfortable. I loved it so I stayed.”
That was a time when the Blue Demon program ranked among the best in the country, and with Aguirre leading the way they even reached the top of the national polls in 1981 (but were famously upset by Saint Joseph’s in the NCAA tournament).
Adding a player of Parker’s caliber wouldn’t boost DePaul to those heights, but it could serve as the catalyst needed to get more highly-touted players to show up.
“This is a rare opportunity. I know what he’s thinking: ‘Who do I want to play with to turn it around?’ If Jabari committed to DePaul, they would start getting All-American recruits. All it takes is one. He would be the beginning of a new time.”
It would be difficult to put that kind of faith in a struggling program, but a look at DePaul reveals that better days may not be far away.
In juniors Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young, DePaul has two talented pieces as focal points, and players such as Jamee Crockett and Moses Morgan return for the 2012-13 season as well (not to mention three freshmen including DeJuan Marrero).
Those four are due to be either seniors or juniors (Crockett) in 2013 provided they all return, and talented commit Billy Garrett, Jr. comes on board in 2013 as well.
One would think, given Purnell’s track record of rebuilding programs, that DePaul will be a better outfit not just in two years but next season as well.
But to add a player of Parker’s caliber to the mix? The excitement, and expectations, would undoubtedly rise were that to happen.