DePaul lands a commitment from an eighth grader

Terrence Payne
NBC Sports

DePaul has its first commit in the Class of 2022.

Yes, the Blue Demons received a verbal commitment from an eighth grader on Friday night.

Amari Bailey, who currently attends Mark T. Skinner West Elementary School in Chicago, announced via Twitter that he will remain in the city for his college career, according to Mike O’Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I am staying home,” he said in a tweet. “I verbally commit to DePaul. I’ve always wanted to play for my city and I’m not too young to know that I wanna put on for my city.”


The tweet was sent out through the Twitter account of Meanstreets, a grassroots program that currently plays in the Nike EYBL. On Thursday, DePaul added Tim Anderson, a Meanstreets coach, as an assistant.

A commitment made this far in advance is hardly a sure thing. There have been several cautionary tales over the years, including one that DePaul dealt with first hand.

In 2005, 15-year-old Cully Payne, who was from suburban Chicago, committed to the Blue Demons. Payne would back out of that commitment three years later. He later picked Alabama but would request a release from his letter of intent. He eventually wound up at Iowa before transferring to Loyola (Ill.). In his final collegiate season, Payne would record a season-high 24 points in a 69-61 victory over DePaul, giving the Ramblers their first win over the Blue Demons since 1989.

While it’s fair to be skeptical of this commitment, it shows that Dave Leitao’s offseason coaching hires are yielding immediate results on the recruiting trail. Leitao added Shane Heirman, who headed the La Lumiere Prep powerhouse, to his staff this spring. Graduate transfer Marin Maric, Illinois transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands, and Tyger Campbell, a four-star 2018 point guard, all have ties to Heirman.

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