Everywhere that Oliver Purnell has coached, he has done three things:
1. Recruit players that the school could never recruit and sign before he arrived.
2. Change the atmosphere into one that believes.
Purnell's latest reclamation project, the storied but woeful DePaul Blue Demons, are ready to become the latest success story on Purnell's resume.
First, let's take a look at that recruiting:
Shane Larkin, PG - Orlando, Florida
Barry Larkin's son is the diamond in Purnell's plans for the future. His hard-nosed style is perfect for the high pressure, high reward defense that has marked Purnell's teams for the past 20 years.
Macari Brooks, SG - Chicago, Illinois
Brooks is as important to Purnell's efforts as Larkin in that he is an Illinois product. Purnell must end the longstanding feud between Illinois high school coaches (particularly in the Chicago Public League) and DePaul.
Joey Meyer started a long legacy of not making in-roads with the inner-city coaches and AAU programs. Purnell has said all of the right things to the right people, and is starting to see results.
Derrell Robertson, C - Mendenhall, Mississippi
Robertson provides the kind of big man that Purnell likes—one that is mobile and able to get up and down the court.
Montray Clemons, PF - Charlotte, North Carolina
Montray was courted by BOTH North Carolina State and North Carolina. He chose DePaul.
Jamie Crockett, SG - Crete, Illinois
See Macari Brooks. Any recruits from Illinois bode well for Purnell and the DePaul program.
These players are just the beginning. The next challenge for Purnell will be to convince the 5,000 or so DePaul fans living in the Lincoln Park area to drive out to Allstate Arena and support the team long enough to convince DePaul brass to pony up for a new arena on campus.
The DePaul campus is wonderful, placed right in the heart of a beautiful Chicago neighborhood. However, the stadium is located 40 minutes away, right off of O'Hare Airport, in a very "industrial" area.
Purnell needs to win, or at least show signs of life, to start making demands for change.
Build it and they will come. Well, that and a few nice gestures to the Chicago Public League coaches.
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