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Scouting the DePaul Blue Demons

Welcome to "Scouting the Big East," a preview series that will give an in-depth at of each of the 2014-15 Big East Men's Basketball teams. Next up, the DePaul Blue Demons.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Team Name: DePaul Blue Demons

2013-14 Record: 12-21 (3-15 Big East)

After a disastrous 2012-13 season saw them win just two conference games and finish losers of 18 out of their final 20, the Blue Demons looked for a rebound season last year in the new-look Big East.

But unfortunately, last season would prove to be more of the same for DePaul, as they would finish with just three Big East victories and 12 wins overall. This time it would be a 10-game losing streak right in the middle of conference play that would do them in, eventually leading to their sixth straight last-place finish in the conference.

Despite the dreadful regular season, the Blue Demons would surprisingly upset Georgetown in the first round of the Big East Tournament before falling to Creighton in the tournament's quarterfinals. This year's Blue Demons seem to lose a lot of talent, but the mood around the program is relatively optimistic.

Key Losses:

F Cleveland Melvin (16.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG), G Brandon Young (16.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG), F Sandi Marcius (4.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG), G Charles McKinney (3.9 PPG, 1.9 RPG), F DeJuan Marrero (1.2 PPG, 2.2 RPG)

Two of head coach Oliver Purnell's very first recruits at DePaul, forward Cleveland Melvin and guard Brandon Young, both graduated from the program this offseason.

Melvin and Young were the team's top two scorers during each of the past four seasons, and they each averaged over 16 points per game last year.

The Blue Demons also lost their third leading rebounder, forward Sandi Marcius, to graduation, leaving them with only one player on their roster who averaged more than four rebounds per game last year.

Also of note is the loss of a possible starter in guard Charles McKinney, who was dismissed from the program a few weeks ago after a violation of team rules.

Key Recruits:

G Darrick Wood (Hutchinson CC), F Rashaun Stimage (Daytona State), G Aaron Simpson (Lincoln, IL)

Head coach Oliver Purnell pulled in three Junior College recruits that will make their debuts this season for the Blue Demons, including a former Chicago high school star in Aaron Simpson.

As a high school senior Simpson would finish third in Illinois Mr. Basketball voting after leading the state in scoring. He'll likely be one of the many players that Purnell will expect to shoulder some of the scoring burden this season after the losses of Melvin and Young.

Also coming in this season will be guard Darrick Wooda former St. John's commit who averaged just under 14 points per game in Junior College last year. DePaul will not have any true freshman on their roster this season after their only high school recruit, three-star forward Raymond Doby, decided to re-classify back in August.

Returning Minutes, Points, Rebounds

DePaul returning minutes

DePaul returning points

DePaul returning rebounds

Key Players Returning:

G Billy Garrett Jr. (12.4 PPG, 3.0 APG), C Tommy Hamilton IV (7.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG), G Durrell McDonald (5.4 PPG, 1.8 RPG), G R.J. Curington (4.1 PPG, 1.2 RPG)

One of the few bright spots returning for DePaul this season will be standout guard Billy Garrett Jr., who was named the 2014 Big East Rookie of the Year after leading all Big East freshman in both scoring and assists.

Garrett Jr. will likely be the most important player on the Blue Demons roster this season, as he'll be expected to take on a much larger leadership role as a sophomore.

Center Tommy Hamilton also returns for his sophomore season as well, coming off a solid first year with the team in which he averaged just under five rebounds in 25 minutes per game. If there's any sort of optimism in DePaul this season, Garrett and Hamilton should both be a large part of it.

Key Non-Conference Opponents:

Stanford (11/30), @George Washington (12/11), @Oregon State (12/18), Colorado (12/22)

A home matchup with a Power 5 team in Stanford in just their fourth game of the season should be very interesting, as should a pair of road games at George Washington in D.C. and at Oregon State in Corvallis.

The Blue Demons will also travel to Hawaii during the holidays to participate in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic along with a few name teams such as Colorado, Wichita State, and Nebraska.

They'll have a guaranteed game versus Colorado to kick things off, along with possible with match ups against George Washington, Ohio, Hawaii, Loyola Marymount, Nebraska, and Wichita State.

Most Intriguing Conference Matchup:

Georgetown (1/13)

When a team finishes in the cellar of the Big East for six years in a row, it can admittedly be pretty tough to find any games on their schedule that could be considered "intriguing."

But if there's one team that should be looking to get another shot at the Blue Demons this season it should be Georgetown.

The Hoyas were bounced by DePaul in the first round of last season's Big East Tournament, and they come back this year with arguably one of the strongest teams in the conference. An upset seems unlikely in this one, but who knows, maybe the Blue Demons can pull it off again.

Scouting DePaul

Projected Big East Finish: 10th

Projected Overall Finish: No Postseason

As the seat under Oliver Purnell gets hotter and hotter every year, it does seem as though a seventh straight last place finish in the conference is in store for his team this season.

It's just hard to see this team remaining competitive after losing their top two scorers from a 12-win team in 2013-14.

That being said, there are a few bright spots for the Blue Demons this season that fans can look forward to. Sophomore Billy Garrett Jr. should only improve upon a stellar freshman year, but will his play be enough to keep DePaul remotely competitive and possibly save Purnell's job? Can a change in player leadership turn the Demons around?