DePaul Legend Aguirre Stars in TV Commercial
Sept. 24, 2012
CHICAGO - They gathered on a hot, summery day at a barbershop in the heart of the West Side hoping to convey in their own unique way the very essence of DePaul basketball.
There was Quentin Richardson with the boyish smile Blue Demon fans came to love when he orchestrated a return to the glory days in the late 1990s.
In the barber's chair to his left was his basketball renaissance wing man, Bobby Simmons---as articulate and thoughtful as ever.
Stretching out his 7-foot frame in the third chair was Steven Hunter who headed up the second wave of Chicago-area standouts headed to DePaul after Richardson signed on in 1998.
They spent the day at Adams Barbershop, 5138 W. Madison Ave., shooting a television commercial that airs Monday, Sept. 24 along with a TV commercial featuring the legendary Mark Aguirre---the premier player in DePaul history.
Aguirre could not make it to the barbershop because of a schedule conflict, but his TV spot is both poignant and compelling with rich, powerful overtones that convey the deep passion he carries for the Blue Demon basketball legacy.
Also featured in the Richardson-Simmons-Hunter commercial are DePaul coach Oliver Purnell, assistant coaches Ron Bradley, Billy Garrett and Brian Ellerbe plus current players Cleveland Melvin, Brandon Young, Moses Morgan, Jamee Crockett and Charles McKinney.
What transpired on that third Wednesday in June was a symbolic passing of the torch from the stars of yesteryear to the 2012-13 Blue Demons.
Richardson, Simmons and ex-Public League star Lance Williams had collaborated on a grand plan in the late 1990s to pool their extensive skills and re-enact the national headline act Aguirre and Terry Cummings had produced back in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
`Q,' Bobby and Lance led DePaul to the NIT their first year. In year two of the revival, Hunter joined Richardson and Simmons in leading the Blue Demons back to the NCAA tournament.
Melvin, Young, Morgan, Crockett and McKinney represent the next wave of DePaul standouts. Melvin made the All-BIG EAST Conference Rookie Team as a freshman and last year was named All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention. Young is among the more talented guards returning in the BIG EAST. Melvin is the top returning scorer in the BIG EAST and Young is No. 4.
Crockett was a dominant player at south suburban Crete-Monee High School and is perhaps the current program's most significant local recruit. Morgan is evolving into a dangerous threat from three-point range and McKinney is a defensive specialist.
Melvin, Young and Morgan are juniors while Crockett and McKinney are sophomores.
"I was very excited," Young said. "It was the first time that I've ever been in a commercial. It was cool being around the former DePaul superstars who played in the NBA. I had a lot of fun with it.
"The alumni players let everyone know that it's a new era at DePaul and we're about to take over. They can see we're making changes and we're ready to win more games.
"You could tell those guys were having fun. They were cracking jokes on each other and reminiscing about their days at DePaul."
Young didn't have any lines to recite in his acting debut.
"My part in the commercial---I was in a barber chair pretending to get a haircut," Young said. "My barber was Billy Garrett. Would I let him cut my hair for real? No way!"
Richardson was sitting in Purnell's barber chair.
"It was great seeing everyone again and talking about all the old stories," said Richardson, fresh off competing in the NBA playoffs with the Orlando Magic. "Those were building-block moments in our lives. It was such an important time in my life."
Richardson came to Lincoln Park after leading Whitney Young to the Class AA state title in 1998 and being rated among the top 10 recruits in the country. The 6-6 swing man was Honorable Mention All-American both of his seasons at DePaul and National Freshman of the Year.
Despite being intense rivals in high school, Simmons and Richardson teamed up on the same AAU summer team and were reunited as teammates with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2003-04.
"I still remember the time we beat Cincinnati at home when they were ranked No. 1," said Simmons who teamed with Blake Griffin during the 2012 NBA playoffs. "My Clippers teammate Kenyon Martin was talking about that recently. He was on that Cincinnati team. He told me: `Man, we hated playing DePaul.'
"The fans went crazy during that game and really inspired us. Willie Coleman hit the winning free throw, and I can still envision the photo on the back of the Sun-Times of Willie stretched out pumping his fist."
Simmons glanced over at Richardson and Hunter and smiled.
"Memories came rushing back as I did this commercial," said Simmons who starred on the South Side. "I am hoping this will help people appreciate and understand what DePaul basketball is all about."
Hunter was eager to follow up what Q & Co. had started after Richardson chose DePaul over Kansas. After being recruited by Kentucky, Michigan and UNLV, Hunter opted for the Blue Demons.
"I came here for the family atmosphere and the chance to contribute to a big-time program," said Hunter, who averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and 8.5 blocks in his senior year at Proviso East and played in Italy this year after eight NBA seasons with Orlando, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Denver and Memphis.
"My biggest home game was the win over Florida when they came in ranked No. 10. It was a packed house, and the fans were our sixth man. We had an Oklahoma City Thunder crowd that day.
"We were playing good ball, the fans in the city were behind us and there was no better feeling in the world."
Simmons is hopeful that Melvin, Young, Morgan, Crockett and McKinney represent the beginning of a turnaround.
"These young guys are DePaul's future," Simmons said. "I was happy to do this commercial. It was a chance to share our tradition, and it keeps guys close."