Tucker DeVries, Drake Bulldogs

The Drake Bulldogs lose old guards, but coach DeVries restocked with transfer guards, lucky enough to return his son and get a waiver.

Last year, the Drake Bulldogs starting five were older than five NBA team starters. Unfortunately, with such a mature team, this team lost some vital players and starters. The Bulldogs lost all three starting guards to graduation: Roman Penn, Garrett Sturtz, and D.J. Wilkins. Coach DeVries also lost a bench player in Sardaar Calhoun to graduation. The Bulldogs lost three players to the portal but also gained four players who transferred in. DeVries has some serious work this year with new guard play. The good news for Drake is the return of the coach’s son, Tucker DeVries, who is likely set up for another great year.

Three players are likely going to be thrust into the starting lineup for the Drake Bulldogs. With the loss of the old guards, this team is fully ready to reload. The expectation for these transfers will be high because of who they are replacing. They are some big shoes, but coach DeVries believes in them.

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Head coach: ย Darian DeVries (6th season, all with Drake)

2022-23 record: 27-8 (15-5)

2023 postseason finish: Lost to Miami (Fla), 63-56, in first round of NCAA Tournament

Notable departures: Roman Penn (Graduated), Garrett Sturtz (Graduated), D.J. Wilkins (Graduated), Sardaar Calhoun (Graduated), Isaac Samake (Transferred to Central Missouri)

Notable nonconference games:ย vs. Saint Louis (Dec. 6), vs. Nevada (Dec. 9), at UAB (Dec. 22)

Projected Rotation

PG: Kyron Gibson (5-11, 198, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 11.2 PPG, 3.9 APG, 2.2 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 36.0 3P% (UT Arlington)

SG: Atin Wright (6-1, 160, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 16.7 PPG,ย  3.2 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.4 SPG (CSU Northridge)

SF: Ethan Roberts (6-5, 195, So.)

2022-23 stats: 12.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 40.7 3P% (Army)

PF: Tucker DeVries (6-7, 210, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 18.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 37.3 3P%

C: Darnell Brodie (6-10, 275, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 9.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 APG, 53.7 FG%

6: Conor Enright (6-0, 170, So.)

2022-23 stats: 4.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.6 APG

7: Carlos Rosario (6-7, 180, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 2.2 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.3 APG (Washington State)

8: Nate Ferguson (6-8, 210, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 3.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.4 APG, 67.9 FG%

9: Eric Northweather (6-10, 225, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 2.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.7 APG

10: Kevin Overton (6-5, 180, Fr.)

247Sports 3-star rated recruit

Drake Bulldog MVP: Tucker DeVries

Last year, Tucker DeVries made history by becoming the fourth sophomore to earn the Larry Bird Trophy in MVC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. He joined quite a group of players to get that prestigious honor among AJ Green of UNI (2020), Fred VanVleet (2014), and Dough McDermott (2012). He was also named to the MVC All-Conference first team. DeVries also received the MVC Tournament Most Outstanding Player award and the MVC All-Tournament team.

DeVries does so many things well and will be the heartbeat and leader of the Drake Bulldogs. Be ready. Here is quite the list of accomplishments. For this article, these are only his top ten finishes in the categories for the Missouri Valley Conference. Tucker DeVries led in points (631), this made him third in points per game (18.6), seventh field goal percentage (44.6%), second in free throw Percentage (83.8%), fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (37.3%), third in field goals (212) and first in field goal attempts (475), third in 3-point field goals (88) and third in 3-point field goal attempts (236). He also led a bit in the advanced stats but had a standout stat as he was eighth in defensive rebounds (164).

Why did this stand out? The weakness in DeVries’ game is offensive rebounds, as he ended up with 193 total rebounds and finished sixteenth in total rebounds per game at 5.7. He can polish his game and improve if he starts looking for the ball and getting into a better rebounding position. His body style and play offer a chance for growth. With Tucker DeVries testing the NBA waters, there is no doubt that he will want to grow more as a player to make him a definitive first-second round pick in the NBA.

Drake Bulldog make-or-break player: Kyron Gibson

Replacing a point guard like Roman Penn, DeVries thinks he may find a solid option in Kyron Gibson. He will have to step into the role of VP of operations. Gibson is poised to be the guy who runs the offense, creates shots for everyone, starts the play, and will have to see how the space flows or breaks down. He will have his hands complete. Thankfully, he has experience doing so. Kyron Gibson knows how to start a play. At UT Arlington last year, he was top ten in four categories in the Western Athletic Conference. Three of those categories involved his assists. Gibson was fourth in the WAC in assist percentage (29.7%), sixth in assists per game (3.9), and seventh in assists (120). There is one area where he can clean up his game, which is the opposite of the assists. He was eighth in turnovers with 83.

With this role and having to do so much ball handling in a new conference, Kyron Gibson will have much to prove. Being the lynchpin of the play, there is a lot of responsibility, and Penn shined. Gibson has some big shoes to fill, and can he do it? Absolutely, but will he? That’s what the Bulldogs and Coach DeVries will wait to see.

Key analytic: Offensive Rebounding

Last year, the Drake Bulldogs finished the year as a solid overall team. The two glaring weak spots are free throw rate, which makes sense since this team was an efficient scoring team from all over the court. The Bulldogs, however, could boost this free throw rate from 272 into the low 200s or high 100s by focusing on the offensive rebounding.

With the guards playing such a dominant role, this team must create second-chance opportunities. With the efficiency, the Bulldogs often left points on the floor. They ranked 318th in offensive rebounding while being dominant on the defensive end. This team ended the season as the fourth-best defensive rebounding team. If this team can focus on both ends, there is no doubt that this team could make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Coach DeVries can quickly work on this and make the team add additional points and increase efficiency. This slight change could boost the Bulldogs in the 2023-24 season.

Drake Bulldogs 2023-24 projections

Projected conference finish: 1st in the MVC

Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Round of 32

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