Power Forward Stimage Ready for a Run of Good Luck
Rashaun Stimage had 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals in just 16 minutes of a 92-51 win over Pro France AMW All-Stars last month.
Sept. 15, 2015

CHICAGO – You couldn’t blame DePaul forward Rashaun Stimage if he walked around the Lincoln Park campus with a rabbit’s foot or some other good-luck talisman in his pocket.

The 6-foot, 8-inch senior who figures to be an integral part of new coach Dave Leitao’s emphasis on rebounding and defense has been sidelined twice with hard-luck injuries in the relatively short time he has suited up with the Blue Demons.

After two seasons of junior college basketball, Stimage was tearing it up in preseason practices last year. The coaching staff was praising his high motor, rebounding prowess and ability to score. Teammate Billy Garrett Jr. said that Rashaun was the best player on the floor at practices.

“I was just being active and working out to get my body ready to play Division I ball,” Stimage said. “I was in the best shape of my life. I was doing hard-core workouts every day and building my body up.”

Then came that fateful workout on Oct. 25 when Stimage’s world was turned upside down.

“It was just before the nonconference season last year when someone fell on my foot in the gym,” Stimage said. “I had a fracture in my foot that required surgery and I missed nine weeks.

“Those were the toughest moments I’ve ever gone through in my life. I had never dealt with an injury like that, and it took a lot out of me.

“I’d be on the side of the court alone just watching. I just basically stayed at my place and had no social life. I wound up using my faith to recover on my own.”

He tried to remain strong in the face of adversity.

“I couldn’t do anything the first several weeks, and I was in a cast for six weeks,” Stimage said. “I worked on my upper body and the other leg. I was in a boot for the seventh week. It gradually got better and there wasn’t any pain.

“As I started recovering, I began to realize that things happen for a reason. I just had to get past this and keep on working.”

Eventually the former Farragut star made his way back to the court, but he wasn’t in prime basketball shape.

“I came back halfway through the season,” Stimage said. “I was able to run and started getting the feeling back of playing basketball.

“It wasn’t easy. I had a hard time getting everything back. I wanted to play a lot, but all the other guys had been playing all season and I knew I wasn’t ready to play my game.

“Being a competitor, I tried to work out harder and run more. Towards the end of the season, I could see I wasn’t as good as I thought I would be coming back from the injury.”

Living up to his reputation as a hard-nosed, blue-collar athlete, Stimage went right back to work after the 2014-15 season building up his body and endurance while also regaining his sense of timing and technique.

Gradually, it all started coming back. That’s when misfortune struck again.

Just when Stimage started thinking about a full recovery, he jammed his thumb into someone’s leg during open gym.

“It was a freak accident,” Stimage said about playing in McGrath-Phillips Arena last spring. “I was trying to throw the ball ahead of me and it popped. I thought it was just dislocated, so I kept playing. When I tried to shoot, there was more pain and it popped again.

“Man, I was just getting over the first injury. I was alive again and I’m coming back. I thought I had gotten past the first injury and now, another downer. Here we go again.

“I handled the second injury with more optimism and didn’t get as down as the first injury. If I’m going to fall down again, take it and run with it.”

This is certainly one student-athlete who could use a run of good luck.

“Is this some kind of jinx?” Stimage said “I certainly hope not. We know God works in mysterious ways. He probably wants to show me that I can get hurt, work through it and come back better than ever. If I’ve gone through my injury phase and stay healthy the rest of my senior year---that would be a blessing.

“I play hard, so I guess I’ll have to deal with stuff like this. That’s part of my game and how I grew up. I play a physical game and I like it. I like getting all grimy and dirty.”

As a late bloomer, Stimage didn’t learn the game until the eighth grade when a coach noticed his height and the potential to be an impact player.

Stimage’s game really began to take off once he enrolled at Farragut High School and came under the tutelage of basketball coach William “Wolf” Nelson.


 

 

He was named an ESPNChicago.com All-Area selection and also earned All-State and All-City honors. He was ranked among the state's top players after averaging 20 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks during his senior season.

“I was pretty much a pure post player who had to learn the rest of the game,” Stimage said. “Wolf brought me to Farragut and took the time to teach me an all-around game.

“After our practices at school, Wolf took me to different parks to play five-on-five full court. That’s where I learned how to dribble and shoot, handle the ball and pass.

“I wanted to get better. After Farragut practices, I’d go home and eat. Wolf would come get me and we’d go right to the courts. I’d stay as long as the top guys played or if I got too tired. Wolf did a lot to help me with my future.”

Here’s hoping Rashaun’s immediate future is injury-free.

“I’m not fully back to where I was before the foot injury,” Stimage said. “I am starting to rebound and score a little bit. I’m definitely not at my full potential and still behind the other guys on our team.

“Coach Leitao’s emphasis on defense and rebounding---I love it. He’s a great coach and person. On our trip to France last month, he preached defense and coming together. That trip was good for me and all the players on the team. It will make us better.”

The Blue Demons went 3-1 on the tour and Stimage had 12 points, eight rebounds, three steals, one block and one assist in just 16 minutes of a 92-51 triumph over the Pro France AMW All-Stars. He finished with nine points, nine rebounds and five blocks in 24 minutes during a 93-63 victory over SAP Vaucluse.

“The France trip was great,” Stimage said. “I really enjoyed touring and seeing another part of the world. We saw the Eiffel Tower and were able to explore Paris a little on our own.

“We also visited Monaco---what a beautiful place. I liked our visit to Mont St. Michel. We went to a restaurant and I had some French onion soup. It was the first time I had ever tried it, and it was really good.

“I enjoyed walking by the places where St. Vincent de Paul lived. We went down one of the streets where he spent his last day. We saw where his ideas came from about helping people.”

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Season ticket packages for the 2015-16 DePaul men's basketball season are on sale now featuring great savings and the best seats available. Show your commitment today by placing a $50 deposit and be a part of the BIG EAST action next season. Flexible mini packages and group ticket offers are also available for purchase. Call the DePaul ticket office at (773) 325-SLAM (7526) and speak with a ticket representative or go to www.depaulbluedemons.com/tickets to learn more about joining the excitement of DePaul athletics.

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