CHICAGO -- Former DePaul star Bobby Simmons believes the Blue Demons finally are back on track after a tumultuous decade since his departure.
"I'm very in-tuned [with DePaul still,]" said Simmons while watching his 11-year-old son practice with the Mac Irvin Fire at Morgan Park High School on Monday night. "Coach [Oliver] Purnell is doing a great job. It starts with the recruiting process. That's key. I think that's a start -- being known in the city and being somebody who wants to help the kids."
Simmons, who starred at Simeon, along with Quentin Richardson (Whiten Young) and Lance Williams (Julian) assembled one of DePaul's strongest recruiting classes out of Chicago back in 1998. In their two years together, the trio led the Blue Demons to the NIT in 1999 and NCAA tournament in 2000.
Since then, DePaul has been to one NCAA tournament (2004), has had six losing seasons and is on its third different coach.
"Whatever university has transitions between coaches, you expect that," Simmons said of DePaul's recent struggles. "Now, they've had 3-4 coaches in a few years in a time span, and you're going to have some up and downs. As of now, you have a set core, and I think from here you move forward."
Simmons thought Purnell was making progress in the Chicago area after securing Rich South's Macari Brooks and Crete-Monee's Jamee Crockett in his 2011 recruiting class and already having Morgan Park point guard Billy Garrett committed for the Class of 2013.
Simmons believed DePaul still has a lot to offer.
"If you think about it, DePaul is still on the national circuit," said Simmons, who owns Succezz, a shoe store in Chicago's South Loop. "It's in the Big East, so you're going to get televised games. If the kid has never been away from home, you have an opportunity to be away from home and still be at home."