The DePaul Blue Demons had a heck of a week last week.
Coach Dave Leitao secured the services of Ohio State transfer Austin Grandstaff as well as class of 2017 4-star point guard Justin Roberts last Monday.
Roberts will be sure to make an impact, but the addition of Grandstaff brings a certain measure of credibility to DePaul that can’t be understated. DePaul has had an almost unparalleled level of incompetence and irrelevance after nine straight years of losing. Thus with adding Grandstaff, the tide may finally may be turning for the Blue Demons.
It should be noted that Grandstaff came out of high school as one of the most prized recruits in the 2015 class. To refresh your memory, he was rated as a 4-star recruit. He was also selected to play in the prestigious Jordan Brand Classic. 247Sports ranked him as the No. 54 overall recruit in the 2015 class and the 14th-best shooting guard in the country.
For whatever reason, Grandstaff never fit in at Ohio State. He played in just 10 games for the Buckeyes and after averaging just 4.4 points and 0.3 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game, he decided to transfer out of the school in December.
From there, Grandstaff headed to Oklahoma. However, just months later, he decided Norman was not the place for him either. Maybe it was the Sooners signing Jordan Shepherd that caused Grandstaff to change his mind. Whatever reason it was, it was not a good optic for Grandstaff to leave. The 6-foot-5 sharpshooter is now on his third school in the span of six months.
Given all that, DePaul is a program that can take on a risk like this.
After years of underachieving and having to settle for second-rate talent, Leitao is proving DePaul is a trendy place to play. The singing of Grandstaff certainly is moving the pendulum.
The thing is, Grandstaff doesn’t have to be some savior or even thrive when he steps foot on the Chicago campus. Just the mere fact that Leitao is making DePaul a place where a 4-star talent wants to play is a major victory for the downtrodden program in and of itself. The residual effects of this could snowball into DePaul landing more marquee talent, especially in its recruit-heavy home base of Chicago.
But that’s in the future. Presently, Grandstaff should be a huge addition on the court.
Blessed with plus athleticism, Grandstaff could be a star in the Big East. Considering he was viewed as one of the best shooters in the class of 2015, he has the ability to stretch defenses. Also, given his ability to handle the ball and create for himself, he should not be defined solely as a good shooter
With Roberts likely penciled in at point guard for the 2018 season—when Grandstaff will be first eligible—the Demons could possess one heck of a backcourt. Not only will Leitao have Grandstaff and Roberts in the backcourt, but by that year major Division II All-American transfer Max Strus will also be eligible.
Austin Grandstaff joins Division II transfer Max Strus as DePaul's newcomers. Two guys who can score #dpubb
— Terrence Payne (@terrence_payne) June 13, 2016
Grandstaff and Strus will give Leitao and the Demons a pair of uber-athletic shooters and slashers who can spread the floor. Not only that, but by that year, all-Big East Freshman Team member Eli Cain will be a junior. The Demons will also have another couple of intriguing incoming freshman guards in Devin Gage and Brandon Cyrus ready to contribute.
Simply stated, Leitao will have a backcourt to contend in the Big East. And after we saw how important guard play was for fellow Big East member Villanova after it won the 2015 NCAA Championship, it is a trend that Leitao is noticing and successfully implementing.
The signing of Grandstaff (as well as Roberts) is moving the needle and offering some hope that DePaul’s years are futility are about to end.
When Grandstaff is ready to suit up, DePaul will open a new arena. It is all leading up to it being a perfect storm for a DePaul renaissance. His signing will change the way DePaul basketball is viewed.
He doesn’t have to be a star—even though he may be given his talent and basketball smarts—but just his addition is drastically altering the perception of the DePaul basketball program.
That’s a win no matter how you slice it.