With the signing of Brandon Spearman the Dayton Flyers secured the fourth member of an outstanding recuiting class. Head coach Brian Gregory has amassed a class that would be formidable even in the Big East. Of course, the four players will be playing in the Atlantic 10.
What does this have to do with DePaul? Well, the Blue Demons were another school in the running for Spearman - a 6'2" shooting guard from Simeon High School in Chicago. A local product, Spearman should've been a player that DePaul would have an easy time of landing. Instead, DePaul currently has a class of exactly zero players lined up for 2010.
While the recent hiring of Tracy Webster should boost recruiting soon, it must be frustrating for DePaul fans to see the a lack of incoming talent for the Blue Demons. Recruiting is the lifeblood of a program. The fact is the Blue Demons are being out recruited by a school playing in a less prestigious conference, in a city with just a little over 1,000,000 people and 14 NCAA Tournament appearances in its history. That's difficult to swallow.
Dayton has attracted a class that includes players from around the Midwest. By attracting a dynamic point guard in Juwan Staten the Flyers were able to start building a class around him. Also coming to Dayton are Spearman, small forward Ralph Hill and shooting guard Jesse Berry.
As the Dave Telp rightly points out in the Scout.com announcing Spearman's signing, Dayton's 2010 class is not unlike the one that propelled Marquette to the top of the Big East for the past few seasons. Staten, Berry and Spearman look a lot Dominic James, Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal. It is a class that could change a program.
How has Dayton done it? A number of ways, many of which show the contrast between it and DePaul - which as of today has zero commitments from the high school class of 2010.
First off, Gregory himself is rather young. At 42 years of age Gregory is one of the hot young coaches in college basketball. He went from assistant under Tom Izzo at Michigan State to the head of Dayton basketball in 2003-04. Since then, Gregory has amassed a 125-68 record. He plays off his youth with a Twitter account and his staff works hard to show recruits that Dayton has made a personal investment in them.
Spearman said this in the Scout.com article:
"Every single day, every game," Spearman said.
"They were there every time. It was incredible. I'm so glad they spent
their time to come see me play. That showed me how much they really
That type of attention speaks volumes to impressionable high school players.
Jerry Wainwright on the other hand is much older. Yes, he's a Chicago-area native - he's from Berwyn, Ill. - but you have to wonder about his ability to attract 18-year-old players to the DePaul program. Wainwright also hasn't had much success while leading the Blue Demons. He's 52-72 in his career and has just one NIT appearance to his credit.
The question becomes though - is that Wainright's fault? The Blue Demons play in one of the - if not the - toughest conferences in the country. Every game in the Big East features dynamic young talents and either young coaches with promise or establish legends of the game. When DePaul decided to leave Conference USA for the Big East, it knew what it was getting into, but now - after seeing the results - don't you wonder if the staff made the right decision?
If a school like Dayton is able to bring in strong recruiting classes to an Atlantic 10, why leave? Of course the Flyers actually spent a bit more - $3.0 million versus $2.8 million - than DePaul on men's basketball in 2008 - the most recent year available. It seems that DePaul is playing in a conference that limits its postseason exposure and hurts its standings with recruits - the exact opposite of what a move to the Big East was intended to do.
The four young men that are coming to Dayton in 2010 are going to help set the program up for long-term success. It would've been great if DePaul had the ability to create a similar situation - but right now it just doesn't seem possible.