Preps Talk

Chicago Recruiting Focus: DePaul basketball

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Chicago Recruiting Focus: DePaul basketball

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.

[RELATED: Chicago Recruiting Focus: Illinois basketball]

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.

39 Days to Kickoff - Downers Grove South

39 Days to Kickoff - Downers Grove South

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Downers Grove South

Head coach: Mark Molinari 

Assistant coaches: Mark Molinari - Head Coach / Offensive Coordinator, Dan Bielawski - Defensive Coordinator, Troy Michalek - Defensive Line, Matt Quatman - Linebackers, Jon Orech - Offensive Line, Chris Wild - Offensive Line, Paul Maggiore - Running Backs, Tony Nevrly - Wide Receivers

How they fared in 2017: 4-5 (4-2 West Suburban Gold Conference). Downers Grove South failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Bolingbrook

Sept. 1 vs Oak Park-River Forest

Sept 8 @ Proviso East

Sept. 14 @ Hinsdale South

Sept. 21 vs Addison Trail

Sept. 28 @ Morton

Oct. 5 vs Leyden

Oct. 12 @ Downers Grove North

Oct. 19 vs Willowbrook

[MORE: 59 Days to Kickoff - Mount Carmel]

Biggest storyline: Can the Mustangs contend for the West Suburban Gold title and get back to the IHSA state playoffs?

Names to watch this season: WR/DB Jaelynn Blecke, OL/DL Shawn Lee and ATH Jayden Lambert

Biggest holes to fill: The Mustangs will have some graduation holes to fill-- especially at the quarterback position. Multi-year starter Matt Greenwald leaves big shoes to fill under center.

EDGY's Early Take: Downers Grove South just missed making the 2017 IHSA state playoff field. While the Mustangs will be a bit younger in 2018, it could work to their advantage. They have some very talented underclassmen names to watch this fall. The Mustangs' overall depth will be tested in a few spots this season; however, if South can stay relatively healthy, this team has a chance to challenge for a conference title and a state playoff spot. 

40 Days to Kickoff: Chicago Ag Science

40 Days to Kickoff: Chicago Ag Science

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Chicago Ag Science

Head coach: Shawn Finnin

Assistant coaches: Craig Dovich, Vince Patterson, KJ Jones and Richard Price

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (5-1 CPL Chicago Great Lakes Conference). Chicago Ag made the Class 4A state playoff field and lost to Rochelle in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Lindblom

Aug. 31 vs Hubbard

Sept 7 vs King

Sept. 14 @ Harlan

Sept. 21 @ Julian

Sept. 28 vs Marshall

Oct. 4 vs Goode

Oct. 13 @ Urban Prep Englewood

Oct. 19 vs Orr

[MORE: 41 Days to Kickoff - Bogan]

Biggest storyline: Can the Cyclones keep winning in a new conference (CPL Illini Windy City) starting this year?

Names to watch this season: TE Tony Stafford and OL Kam Williams

Biggest holes to fill: The Cyclones will need to replace 8 starters on defense lost to graduation.

EDGY's Early Take: The Cyclones had a historic season in 2017 making the IHSA state playoff field for the first time in school history. With the recent success comes a "move up" to the Illini division this fall. Look for Ag Science to rely on an experienced offense (seven starters) including four returning starters on the Cyclones offensive line from a year ago.