Special BIG EAST Program Resonates with DePaul Freshmen
Eli Cain received media training and instruction at the BIG EAST Freshman Fundamentals program Sept. 12-13 in New York.
Sept. 24, 2015

CHICAGO – The BIG EAST Conference’s Freshman Fundamentals program made quite an impression on Eli Cain, Oumar Barry, Develle Phillips and the rest of the Blue Demon first-year basketball players.

Held in New York City Sept. 12-13, the program was designed to assist men’s basketball student-athletes in the transition from high school to college and the elite level of BIG EAST basketball.

It included hearing from a panel of NBA players who starred in the BIG EAST, a broadcast presentation by executives from BIG EAST national television partner FOX Sports, and instruction from nationally acclaimed experts in media training and personal branding.

Former NBA coach Jim O’Brien, who served terms as head coach of the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers, offered insights into what professional coaches look for in college players, ways to get ahead of the competition and how to best utilize the time spent in college.

FOX Sports personnel briefed the student-athletes on the extensive national television coverage that BIG EAST men’s basketball teams receive and how best to navigate the opportunities and challenges that come with nationwide media exposure.

The panel of former BIG EAST players was moderated by Tarik Turner, a St. John’s standout guard who has enjoyed a successful professional career in finance and broadcasting, including as an analyst for BIG EAST games on FOX Sports.

The players on the panel included Greg Monroe of the Milwaukee Bucks, who played at Georgetown (2008-10), Patrick Ewing, Jr. who played at Georgetown (2006-08) and with the New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets and Randy Foye of the Denver Nuggets, who played at Villanova (2002-06). Monroe was the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year in 2009, and Foye was the BIG EAST Player of the Year in 2006.

What really seemed to resonate with both Barry and Phillips was the presentation by DeNita Turner, President and CEO of Image Builders, Inc. who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 companies, the NBA and WNBA.

They listened intently as Turner spoke about how opening up to someone during a chance encounter in an elevator helped to launch her career.

“There was this woman DeNita Turner who told an amazing story of how she met someone in an elevator one day who wound up helping her become who she is today,” Barry said. “The point was, be open-minded and talk to people. Build good relationships with people because you never know when you might need somebody.”

That story had the same effect on Phillips.

“I learned from Miss Turner how to be more open because you never know when you might need someone and what that person can do for you,” Phillips said. “He or she could have a big impact on your life. That elevator story was so powerful, it made me think. She said the other person in the elevator was a star in the NBA. I think it was Tim Duncan.”

Foye had a story that served as a warning for young athletes.

“We learned about facing adversity and how to deal with it at the college level,” Phillips said. “We learned about having more respect for yourself and the people you’re around. There were some things that I didn’t think of before this trip to New York.

“If you were around people who might be a bad influence before, select the few friends who know how to behave. For the others, we learned how to talk to them and say that I can no longer do the things that I used to do with you.

“Randy Foye talked about the time he was arrested for a fight at a gas station that didn’t directly involve him while he was playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves. It became big news.”

Foye received a citation for disorderly conduct and was released. According to a Feb. 12, 2007 news report, Foye, speaking to reporters in a conference call, said he was driving when two of his younger cousins started arguing, prompting him to pull over and tell them to get out and settle the matter.

The citation, Foye said, was for the noise caused by the fight. He apologized to the team and his fans for the negative publicity.

“He told us that you can’t be involved with stuff like that when you’re on such a big stage,” Phillips said.

Barry said Freshman Fundamentals taught the players about college and showed them how to carry themselves.

There was a media training session conducted by Dan Broden, President of Broden Communications and a national expert on communications and presentation skills.

“He talked to us about what to say when you’re being interviewed on TV,” Barry said. “It was a good experience and I learned a lot. It helps people with their self-confidence.”

Cain picked up a few pointers in his conversations with the former BIG EAST stars.

“We got to talk to Greg Monroe, Randy Foye, Patrick Ewing Jr. and Tarik Turner about their college basketball and pro basketball experiences,” Cain said. “We learned how they handled the media and how they handled adversity.

“These are NBA guys who were top national recruits in high school who had even more pressure on them than we had. We talked about interacting with people and speaking to them about yourself.

“It was also good being around other freshmen in the BIG EAST as we’ll be playing against them over the next several years. We heard from BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman and from Associate Commissioner Stu Jackson who used to be an NBA executive.”

In addition to the conference, the student-athletes got to experience other parts of the Big Apple.

“We got to visit Madison Square Garden and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum,” Cain said. “We walked around downtown New York and Times Square. Madison Square Garden is always a good time. It’s the best arena in all of sports.”


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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