DeJuan Marrero commits to DePaul

Forward DeJuan Marrero, of Bowman Academy in Gary, Ind., committed to DePaul on Tuesday.

Marrero, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound forward, also considered Illinois, but he said the Illini had recently backed off him.

Marrero is ranked the No. 45 small forward in the country and the No. 40 overall player in the Midwest region in the Class of 2012 by ESPN Recruiting. He averaged 22.1 points and 15.3 rebounds last season at Bowman.

"First and foremost, I liked the education there," Marrero said. "Second was my mom. I like being close to home. Third, I feel like I can make a great impact at DePaul and with what coach (Oliver) Purnell can do. Fourth is the Big East. The best conference in the country is the Big East."

While some recruits have decided against DePaul because of its recent struggles, Marrero was attracted to the program for that same reason. He wants to be a part of the group that revitalizes the Blue Demons.

"People are trying to go wherever they're winning," Marrero said. "I'm trying to start something. With Bowman, we won a state championship in the second year. I'm all about turning things around, making myself better. It takes hard work. I wouldn't want to go somewhere it's handed to me. That's the type of person I am."

ESPN senior basketball recruiting analyst Dave Telep thought Marrero was a perfect addition to DePaul's style of play.

"The way Oliver Purnell likes to play with a lot of intensity defensively and to press, Marrero's a long guy with a nose for the ball," Telep said. "He works for what they're trying to do."

Telep also thought Marrero still had something to prove in college.

"I think Marrero was one of those guys who is exceptionally regarded early on, and now he has to fight and claw for everything," Telep said. "I think that's a good thing. I think he has a little chip on his shoulder. If I'm Oliver Purnell, that's how I get to him and ignite that fire in him."

DePaul assistant coach Billy Garrett was the lead recruiter on Marrero.

"He's been recruiting me since Day 1," Marrero said.

Marrero is DePaul's first Class of 2012 recruit.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.