By: Ryan Taylor, Staff Writer for the DePaulia
Everything is new. The head coach, players, strength coach and athletic director, who celebrated one year at DePaul not long ago.
Let’s start with the Chicago native, Coach Parham. A venerable coach from a plethora of teams, like Illinois State, Illinois and his latest gig at Milwaukee.
Parham is a recruiter at heart. According to 247Sports, Parham’s all-time recruits at Illinois include Jaylon Tate, D.J. Williams and Kendrick Nunn, a player for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Looking at just those three, it’s easy to pinpoint Parham’s bread and butter for recruiting geographics — Chicago.
“Just being here for me is special,” Parham said. “Even today getting ready for the game gave me goosebumps. I went to high school seven blocks down the street and I was born and raised 12 blocks away. It’s a special feeling for me.”
Parham grew up in Chicago and went to Dunbar High School. Yet, according to Parham, people always mistake his alma mater for Simeon Career Academy because of his connection to Robert Thomas and his ability to recruit players from there.
Getting highly touted recruits to come to your school is no easy job. But, Parham has a formula of care he expands on his recruits.
“Building relationships and being honest with people and delivering on what you promise,” Parham said. “Helping young men grow from being young men to young adults.”
The personal connection Parham makes with his athletes helps make him an excellent coach and a credible recruiter. Buying into the school is one thing, but Parham’s recruits buy into him as a person.
“We’re trying to develop future leaders,” Parham said. “The basketball piece is one thing, but it’s just the part of growing up and letting them know the importance of being a good guy. Letting them meet my family, meet my wife, showing them how you raise a family. Those things are good.”
Parham brings plenty of experience and wisdom to the table. Now, the extra motivation of being at DePaul — a position he said he “dreamed about” since he started coaching — will make him a special part of the coaching staff.
Steve Thomas, a graduate assistant of head coach Tony Stubblefield’s in his early coaching days, joined the men’s basketball staff this past spring.
Thomas’s role as a player development coach for guards/wings and as an offensive/defensive specialist is derived from great head coaches, in his words.
Under Oregon’s Dana Altman, Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams and Richmond’s Chris Mooney, Thomas’s coaching style incorporates techniques and practices from all three.
Thomas also has a reputable understanding of the culture that Stubblefield wants to incorporate into the team.
“Playing hard, playing smart, playing together and valuing your teammate,” Thomas said when asked to define the culture of DePaul basketball.
There’s a different aura to DePaul basketball this year. The team is unified and determined to change the stigma of losing that has plagued the program in recent years.
With the help of the new coaches, they certainly seem to be on the right track to reach those goals, even after only having practiced together since early May.
“It’s a cliche in a lot of ways when teams say ‘family’ or ‘hard work,’ but that’s what it takes,” Thomas said. “That’s the culture we’re trying to build. It’s going to be gritty, it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be a defensive mindset, and then it’s going to be being able to come back and execute on offense.”
One factor Thomas handles is the attentiveness to instilling a full-court, transition offense for the team. This is something junior center Nick Ongenda mentioned in the offseason too.
The Blue Demons executed this part well versus Montevallo in their exhibition game last Thursday, surpassing the Falcons in fast-break points 21-8.
“You have to be able to score the ball,” Thomas said. “We’re gonna dig in defensively and do those types of things. But, we need to be able to get the ball over half court and put the ball in the basket. Sharpening that up and getting those guys in sync takes time.”
Bino Ranson, a native of Baltimore and former 11-year assistant coach for Mark Turgeon’s Maryland staff, joined the Blue Demons this past spring too.
Now the Blue Demons have the map covered from coast to coast. Stubblefield has the West Coast, Parham has Chicago and the Midwest and Thomas and Ranson have the East Coast.
Ranson, like Parham, is an esteemed recruiter in the college basketball scene. Having recruited numerous big-name recruits, like Diamond Stone and Jalen Smith, to Maryland, he brings tons of value to Chicago.
“He’s really kind of separated himself as a great recruiter, especially in the last few years,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said in an interview with the Washington Post. “Some of the best players we’ve signed, Bino’s been involved.”
Ranson is a set-up man in recruiting, as he described to DePaul athletics, meaning he brings in recruits for Coach Stubblefield to close on.
He also works with the Blue Demons’ big men, like Ongenda and Yor Anei.
“Every day I tell Nick to have a ‘next play’ mentality and just to be relentless on the offensive glass and defensive glass just believe in himself,” Ranson said. “Part of being a successful big is being confident and relentless.”
The philosophy seemed to work for Ongenda last Thursday. He shot 5 of 8 from the field and 3 of 6 from the free-throw line to give him 13 points. The combination of Ongenda and Anei gave the Blue Demons 7 of their 10 total blocks.
The table is set and the new coaches are in place. If there’s one commonality amongst them, it’s their devotion to “change the culture” and reestablish a winning program at DePaul.
“Our job as coaches is to bring that energy, that message, bring the culture every single day,” Thomas said.
Steve Thomas, Bino Ranson, Paris Parham
Men’s basketball contact information
773-325-7521 or firstname.lastname@example.org