Coming into a new season, it’s clear the DePaul Blue Demons need some backcourt help.
With Billy Garrett Jr. graduating, the Blue Demons need to find a way to match his production. Especially so on offense. With Brandon Cyrus likely to be the shooting guard in next year’s rotation, the vacancy at point guard will be Dave Leitao’s biggest worry.
As of right now, the starting spot will be going to Devin Gage. He can’t replicate all of Garrett Jr.’s production alone, though. Not yet at least. Finding backcourt depth will be a question that needs answering for the Blue Demons.
Luckily for them, there is a potential solution arriving this season. His name is Justin Roberts.
Roberts is a four-star recruit from Findlay Prep (and Pike High School) in Indianapolis and will be joining the Blue Demons this fall. He is a highly touted point guard and him signing with DePaul is a huge step for the program.
A quick point guard who can get to the hoop, Roberts will look to bring some much needed bench help to DePaul. Let’s take a look at what he can bring.
Offensively will be where Roberts will make his biggest impact. He is able to use a quick first step to fly by defenders and get to the rim with ease. Despite being just 5-foot-11, he is great at scoring at the rim and possesses all the qualities you want to see in someone who gets to the hoop often.
We’ll break down two back to back plays where he does that.
(1:53) Here Roberts is initially in some trouble facing a double team. He does a good job of keeping his pivot foot and is able to pass out of it to his teammate at the top of the key. It was a pretty impressive play, considering Roberts’ size and how it can be overwhelming for small guards when facing double teams near the half court line.
Right after he passes the ball, Roberts takes off towards the paint. After beating his man following the double team, he is able to catch the ball with ease and then goes up to the rim. He does a fantastic job absorbing the contact of the help defender (and a player much bigger than him), essentially bouncing off him. He is able bank in the shot. It certainly wasn’t an easy task.
(1:59) This time Roberts is in transition and has a lot of space to work with. With no other real options available, he decides to be aggressive and take the ball to the hoop. Roberts is met at the rim by a player much bigger than him once again. But once again, Roberts shows some strength and is able to complete the and-one play despite having his arms pulled down. It’s a very impressive play and one many players can’t always make.
Having a guy like Roberts could be key for DePaul’s bench. As of right now, there aren’t a lot of guys who can create their own shot. Roberts can be the main initiator when his rotation is rolled out on the court.
He also has shown the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting. This adds to his versatility as an offensive player and could help if he is on the floor with the starters. The shooting would help take some pressure off of Eli Cain and force defenses to not focus all of their attention on DePaul’s star player.
Defensively is a totally different story, however.
There will be a lot of concerns about Roberts’ impact on that side of the court. It will be mainly due to his size.
He will be facing point guards who are a lot bigger than him and could lead to defensive problems. While his speed and quickness are going to aid him in beating defenders to spots, it’s tough to see Roberts effectively contesting jumpers. The ideal situation would be if he can develop into a decent on-ball defender and be able to hold his own. If not, DePaul will have to be ready to hide him on that end.
Make no mistake about it, getting Justin Roberts was a huge accomplishment for DePaul. He was revered in high school and him selecting with the Blue Demons really says a lot about where the program is headed. Adding a guy like him will surely help this year’s team, especially offensively.
It looks like DePaul is on the right track.