It's been an uphill battle for DePaul the last decade as the once-proud city basketball powerhouse tries to finish out seasons with consistent winning records. Former head coach Dave Leitao was re-hired last spring after last coaching the Blue Demons during the 2004-05 season and he's faced with a tough rebuild after the Oliver Purnell era.
These next few recruiting classes will be vital to Leitao's immediate fortunes and he has a lot of potential scholarships to work with in the next few classes.
The Class of 2016 will likely see the Blue Demons take four-to-five new players and they've already secured a commitment from Curie point guard Devin Gage. The three-star point guard has been successful playing for one of the best programs in the city and Leitao has a hard-nosed guard to help build the class around.
From there, DePaul is looking into a few local players like Morgan Park point guard Charlie Moore and St. Joseph forward Nick Rakocevic as they still remain uncommitted heading into next week's early signing period. Sticking in the Midwest, DePaul had La Lumiere teammates Al Eichelberger and Brandon Cyrus on campus for official visits last weekend.
With DePaul looking for a variety of pieces, they could also go to the junior college ranks to break up the class a bit as former Orr forward Marlon Jones, now at South Plains Community College, is a target as well.
Much like Illinois to the south, the Class of 2017 is a huge one for DePaul. Leitao and his staff will once again have four to five scholarships to work with as they try to nab some commitments out of some players from the Chicagoland area.
Evanston's Nojel Eastern, Curie's Elijah Joiner and former Willowbrook guard Alonzo Verge were all prominent players at the DePaul elite camp this past August and they were joined by talented out-of-state targets like point guard Markell Johnson from Ohio.
Other Illinois targets for DePaul in the Class of 2017 include Belleville Althoff's Jordan Goodwin, Bolingbrook's Nana Akenten, Marian Catholic's T.J. Smith and Larkin's Christian Negron.
The Class of 2018 and beyond isn't as much of a focus for DePaul right now, particularly since the class has limited scholarships compared to the two preceding it, but Simeon guard Kezo Brown remains an early point of interest and the Blue Demons staff will work to try to get involved with him.
Leitao has to bring in talent in order to turn things around in a tough Big East and securing some players from the area will be very important to the turnaround efforts. With a new stadium on the horizon and the Big East looking more stable after six teams made the NCAA tournament last season, there are plenty of positive recruiting attributes for the program going forward.