Demps ready to take the point at Northwestern, April 28, 2011

Demps ready to take the point at Northwestern

By Andrew Scoggin

Although he has a shot to replace four-year starter Michael Thompson next season, incoming freshman Tre Demps hadn’t really played point guard before committing to Northwestern.

Sure, the 6-foot-3 guard took the ball up the court during his junior season at San Antonio (Texas) Ronald Reagan, but Demps said he was never the facilitator on offense. That, along with his quiet demeanor, changed with the arrival of first-year coach John Hirst.

Demps was named first-team all-state after leading Reagan to a 30-6 record.

“From the start I trusted him and it motivated me to be more vocal to those guys,” Demps said. “It was my job to get those guys going where as in the past it was only my responsibility to get myself going.”

Though Demps’s stat line didn’t change much (his points per game average actually went down to 16.6 from 19), he led his team to a 30-6 record and was named first-team all-state by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.

He’ll play in two all-star games in the next three months, both sponsored by Texas coaches’ associations.

“Most of my peers really appreciate his game because he’s not just a high-wire act, someone who just makes you say, ‘Wow,'” Hirst said. “Tre’s one of those guys at the end of the game that you say wow because you look at those numbers.”

That’s not to say Demps didn’t have a flair for the dramatic at times, Hirst said.

“I can’t tell you how many big shots he hit, too,” Hirst said. “I can’t think of how many times the game was in doubt and Tre makes a play.”

Unlike most seniors during the spring, Hirst said Demps is now working hard on improving on an individual level. He has had Evanston on his mind for a while, at least judging by his wardrobe, which often features purple socks that clash with Reagan’s green-and-white color scheme.

Demps didn’t wait long to commit to Northwestern, turning down offers from schools like Minnesota and Colorado in the process. For him it was the usual combo of high academics and the Big Ten that made him a Wildcat, though NU’s renowned Medill School of Journalism also played a role.

“I used to (write) when I was younger,” Demps said. “I’m really interested in satire, stuff like The Onion. … I think that ties in well with my personality.”

His intelligence extends to the court as well. Demps’s basketball IQ is “off the charts,” Hirst said, likely due in part to his father, former NBA player and current New Orleans Hornets GM Dell Demps.

He grew up with his mother in the Bay Area in California, and spent summers with his dad.

“I’ve been around the game my whole life,” Demps said. “I think I’ve got to see things I’d say 99.9 percent of the kids who play basketball haven’t seen. Over the years my knowledge of basketball has gone up and up and up.”

Demps said he had built a close relationship with former Northwestern assistant coach Mitch Henderson, who walked him through the Wildcats’ gameplan before their 58-57 loss to No. 1 Ohio State in January. Though Henderson left to coach Princeton earlier this month, Demps said he still talked a good amount with coach Bill Carmody, who Demps describes as fairly laid back.

“I feel like we’ll have a great relationship because we both kind of have a chip on our shoulder because we both get criticized for certain aspects of the game,” Demps said. “I think we can relate really well and take this thing to the next level.”

For Demps, he said that criticism against him centers mostly on his speed and ability to spread the ball around the floor.

“I think a lot of people around the city criticize me for not getting my teammates involved,” he said. “People say I’m not quick enough to play in the big conferences. I’m still using that as motivation right now. I really want to be known as a guy who can get people going.”

After missing out on a point guard for the class of 2010, NU will bring in two in Demps and David Sobolewski of Lisle (Ill.) Benet Academy. Demps said he and Sobolewski speak frequently, mostly talking basketball.

The two will join JerShon Cobb and Alex Marcotullio, among others, in the backcourt, and Demps said he’ll take whatever role is best for the team.

“Maybe in the past I would want that starting position,” Demps said. “But now whatever they ask me to do is what I’m going to do and it’s what I’ll want to do.”

As for comparisons with Thompson, Demps said their games don’t have much in common. He said Thompson is feistier, while he’s a little more finesse.

“Coming in I’m not going to try to duplicate what he did, as far as how we play,” he said. “I’m going to try my best to be a leader.”

Still, his coach isn’t going to undersell him.

“We really feel like Northwestern got a steal, not that he’s going to be jaw-dropping and maybe he will be as a freshman,” Hirst said. “But we’re talking about a guy who’s going to be really great for three or four years.”

(Original post — external link)


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