Since the college basketball season abruptly ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Missouri has been active in its pursuit of transfers, especially immediately-eligible graduate transfers. The Tigers made the top three for Bowling Green guard Justin Turner, who could announce a decision as soon as this weekend.
Monday, the Tigers entered the mix for a traditional transfer for the first time in this recruiting cycle. A report from Stockrisers said Cuonzo Martin and his staff have reached out to former Michigan guard David DeJulius, who entered his name into the transfer portal on Monday. DeJulius, a Detroit native, has reportedly also heard from Maryland, Cincinnati, Marquette, Iowa State, DePaul and Rhode Island.
The former top-100 prospect has two years of eligibility remaining. Missouri could have a connection through assistant coach Cornell Mann, also a Detroit native.
We will try to get ahold of DeJulius to discuss his recruitment, but in the meantime, here is a look at his game and how it could fit in at Missouri.
A 6-foot combo guard, DeJulius played sparingly as a freshman during the 2018-19 season but saw his role increase last year. He served as Michigan’s sixth man, coming off the bench in every game but one and averaging 20.9 minutes per game on the year. DeJulius averaged 7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. He shot 41.7 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from three-point range.
DeJulius backed up second-team all-Big Ten point guard Zavier Simpson for Michigan. Because of the presence of Simpson, who led the nation in assists, DeJulius spent more time as a two-guard, but he appears capable of running the point. His efficiency numbers also suggest he could put up bigger offensive numbers once out of Simpson’s shadow.
DeJulius scored in double-figures 11 times this season, including a stretch of four games in a row early in the year. He finished the season with a career-high 20 points in 20 minutes against Purdue. According to Synergy, he finished in the 75th percentile or better among all college basketball players in the five offensive play types in which he logged significant data. His worst offensive action was actually the one in which he was utilized most frequently, as a spot up shooter. DeJulius took nearly 39 percent of his shots off spot-ups and averaged exactly one point per possession, which ranked him in the 75th percentile. His 36.1 percent three-point shooting, on a relatively healthy sample size of 86 attempts, would have ranked second on Missouri’s team, behind only Mark Smith.
According to Synergy, DeJulius ranked in the 81st percentile as a pick-and-roll ball handler, which accounted for nearly 28 percent of his play types. He ranked in the 88th percentile in isolation. He was at his best in transition, when he scored 1.321 points per possession. That ranked in the 90th percentile. Add in his assist-turnover ratio of 2.8:1 and Synergy ranks him in the 98th percentile overall in transition. It’s unknown whether DeJulius will look for a new system that will allow him more transition opportunities. If so, that wouldn’t bode well for Missouri, which played slower than Michigan last season.
The one offensive area where DeJulius really struggled was finishing from close range. He ranked in the 3rd percentile in shooting “around the basket,” per Synergy, and in the 1st percentile in jump shots from less than 17 feet.
DeJulius’ assist rate of 12.7 percent doesn’t jump off the page, although that could be a byproduct of playing alongside Simpson. However, he was excellent at taking care of the ball. DeJulius committed turnovers on just 10.3 percent of possessions last season. That number dropped to 7.4 percent during Big Ten play, which ranked fourth in the conference. For reference, Missouri as a team committed turnovers on 20.9 percent of possessions last season, which ranked No. 302 in the country.
As of right now, DeJulius would have to sit out the 2020-21 season, though there has been talk of the NCAA passing a ruling that would allow players a one-time transfer exemption. While Missouri would undoubtedly welcome DeJulius to next season’s roster, it might work out even better for the Tigers if DeJulius had to sit a season. As of now, the Tigers are set to graduate five players after 2020-21. That includes guards Dru Smith and Mark Smith. Their backcourt mate Xavier Pinson could be gone by then as well. Pinson declared for the NBA Draft last week but left open the possibility of returning to Missouri.
Not only would the addition of DeJulius address two major weaknesses for Missouri with his ball-handling and shooting, he would provide some class balance by joining a graduating class that currently only includes Kobe Brown and Parker Braun. But Martin will have his work cut out to land DeJulius in what figures to be a very crowded recruitment.