On Monday evening th Cincinnati Bearcats picked up their first commitment in the 2014 class as 6-foot-9 270 pound Coreontae DeBerry of Hutchinson Community College made the call after a weekend visit to campus.
DeBerry, a native of Holland, Michigan, originally committed to Detroit Mercy out of high school but because of academic issues had to go the JUCO route. In his freshman year for Mott College he averaged 9.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in only 12.7 minutes a game and in May he made the decision to transfer to national JUCO power Hutch CC for his sophomore season.
DeBerry came down to Cincinnati on Saturday for an unofficial, and right away Mick Cronin and his staff put on the full court press.
“On my visit we got the chance to eat breakfast and the whole coaching staff was there to meet me that morning,” DeBerry said of his initial impression. “Not just one coach, but all of the assistants were there and its very rare that you get the head coach and all of the assistants to come see you.”
After seeing academics derail his first run at Division 1 hoops, DeBerry was looking for the right fit for his future off the court and Cincinnati made a great impression there as well.
“They told me about everything they have to offer,” said DeBerry. 'They were real big on my academics before basketball, and that's the most important to me. I also got the chance to meet the academic adviser.”
Up next was an open gym session with most of the current roster as well as Cheikh Mbodj and Yancy Gates who are preparing for their upcoming pro seasons abroad. DeBerry held his own against both Bearcat alums and even had a nasty one handed tomahawk in transition over the unsuspecting Gates.
That 90 minute glimpse into what could be his future also went a long way in sealing the deal.
“I got the chance to play with the team and I felt like I belong on the team and could do well,” DeBerry said. “It was a place that I could see myself in the future and I felt comfortable there. When I played with the team I felt like I could really help them out and get the program where it needs to go if I put in the effort.”
In preparation for his sophomore campaign DeBerry headed out to Kansas this summer to get some work in with his new head coach Steve Eck at Hutch.
“When I was at Hutch we played a lot, but we also did some weight room stuff,” said DeBerry. “I also did my own individual workouts and it has helped a lot. I was only there for a month so I just put in that month of really hard work.”
Eck also took that month of work as a snap shot into the player he will attempt to mold into a presence down low this coming season.
“First thing he needs to develop more offensive skill around the basket,” Eck told BCJ shortly after the commitment. “He has a nice right hand hook shot and he shoots it well mid range. He just needs to make sure he works hard every possession. That's the difference between a really good player and an average player. The really good player goes hard every possession and that's what we want Coreontae
DeBerry know he needs some refinement on the offensive end, but he is comfortable doing the things that have come easy to a young man of his sheer size at the moment.
“My low post game, I don't have a lot of fancy moves,” said DeBerry. “I just keep it simple with my body and go up and draw contact. I've been working on my hook shots a lot right now.”
With a flat footed standing reach of 9-foot-2 the big man can impact the game without trying to spring off the floor at every turn on the defensive end.
“Most big dudes try to go up for shots, but I just try to stand straight up and change the shot so if they miss I can get the rebound,” DeBerry said. “I don't do too much reaching, I just try to go up with two hands.”
Coach Eck expressed the desire to get DeBerry down in the 260 range for this season, and his new big man expects to drop the 10 pounds his coach is looking for.
“It's the offseason so I've still got some work to do to get in shape,” said DeBerry. “I try my best to keep up with my conditioning and when the season comes around I'll be there.”
Cincinnati wasn't alone in trying to lock up DeBerry as several other strong programs from the midwest were working hard to land his commitment.
“Wichita State, Purdue, St Louis, Detroit,” DeBerry said. “Those are the schools that were calling me every day. There were a lot of others in contact.”
Associate head coach Larry Davis was the lead recruiter for DeBerry and the non stop drive Davis displayed was a huge factor in making things happen.
“You only need to know one thing about coach Davis, he would not stop recruiting,” said DeBerry. “He would recruit all morning, all day and all night and that's a good thing. He made it so I was thinking about Cincinnati before I went to sleep and before I woke up.”
The first face to face meeting with Cronin over the weekend visit was also important for DeBerry. Head coaches more often than not seal the deal, and the Cincinnati head coach did just that with his target on campus.
“The only times I've seen coach Cronin was on the internet and on TV,” DeBerry said. “Just they way when I got to meet him in person he was really interested in talking to me. It was big for me because that was something I only could have imagined.”