In less than a month, Oliver Purnell will send the DePaul Blue Demons onto Ray Meyer Court for a fifth season on opening night. The road to the 2014-15 season has not been smooth by any means. Six consecutive last-place finishes have made fans weary of Purnell, shining a major spotlight on the coach this season. But with the first-year success of Billy Garrett Jr. and Tommy Hamilton, DePaul showed some upside in 2013-14.
With several members of the squad graduating, or getting kicked off the team if you're Cleveland Melvin, four new Blue Demons will debut in November looking to crack the regular rotation - perhaps the starting lineup - and build on the impacts made by Garrett and Hamilton. Let's meet them, shall we?
Ray Doby - PF
Montrose Christian School - St. Louis, MO
Doby gives DePaul a lot of athleticism at the forward position. At 6-foot-7, he'll be undersized against bigger four-men in the conference, but he has a great motor and can really attack the rim. His quickness and physicality make him a problem for defenders on the interior. He has a good mid-range jumper, able to knock down the 15-footer as well as the occasional three. His shot from long-range with have to improve over the next few years, but he's a solid 3-star pickup for the Blue Demons. It will be interesting to see how Doby fits in Purnell's system.
Darrick Wood (Jr) - Shooting Guard
Hutchinson Community College - Washington D.C.
Originally a St. John's recruit, Wood traded in the Red Storm for the Blue Demons. Wood spent a fifth year of high school at Bridgton Academy in Maine before heading to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. A former four-star recruit, Wood joins a backcourt with a number of questions outside of Garrett. Wood averaged nearly 14 points in 27 games at Hutchinson, and will push R.J Curington, Charles McKinney and Durrell McDonald in DePaul's backcourt.
Rashaun Stimage (Soph) - Small Forward
Daytona State College - Chicago, IL
Chicago-area fans might remember Stimage. The former standout at Farragut High on the city's West Side spent a year at Blinn College in Texas, where he averaged 15 points and close to 8 rebounds in 15 games. He's been lauded by several Farragut greats of the past. Coach Wolf Nelson called him "the most versatile player I’ve had since Kevin Garnett." Stimage has been training with fellow Admiral and former Illinois Mr. Basketball, Ronnie Fields. Fields - a former DePaul recruit, although he never played - compared him to Tracy McGrady. "The kid is an amazing talent, some of the stuff he’s able to do. He’s got a mixture, a combination of different pieces to his game." The 6-foot-8 Stimage has incredible athleticism, and with a huge hole at the 3, expect him to get a fair look at playing time during the season.
Aaron Simpson (Jr) - Point Guard
Lincoln College - North Chicago, IL
Another area recruit, Simpson was the state's leading scorer his senior year, finishing third in Illinois Mr. Basketball voting behind Jabari Parker and Valpo guard Keith Carter. He originally headed to Illinois State before taking the JUCO route and winding up at Lincoln College in the Chicago suburbs. Averaging 23 points a game during his sophomore season, Simpson was bound for Detroit before making the switch to DePaul. No long-term upside with Simpson, but he can contribute early with his scoring. He's unafraid to attack the basket, a smart passer who is great in transition. Simpson gives Purnell an offensive weapon in a crowded backcourt for the next two seasons.