As the 2022-2023 college basketball season quickly approaches, the outlook is certainly bright for the Drake Bulldogs men’s basketball team. For the second year in a row, Drake, who is one of the 10 best men’s basketball teams in Iowa, has been picked to finish first in the Missouri Valley Conference, receiving an astounding 52 of 54 first-place votes, with the other two votes going to Bradley and Southern Illinois.
While this does seem promising for the Bulldogs this season, after being picked to win the conference last year, the team did come up short with a loss in the MVC championship game to Loyola, by a score of 64-58.
This would be the second consecutive year that Loyola would defeat Drake in the conference title game. Despite the recent past of the Drake Bulldogs’ seasons, the team is looking to live up to their projections, breaking the trend of conference championship losses over the last two seasons.
With that said, there are certainly some players to pay attention to throughout this 2022-2023 season.
— Drake Basketball (@DrakeBulldogsMB) November 21, 2022
Veterans are a trend going into the 2022-2023 season. Garrett Sturtz is one of those, a graduate student who has played in 132 games over the course of his college career and is one of three current Bulldogs that is a member of the 1,000 career points club.
Sturtz played in all 36 of the Bulldogs’ games last season, starting 22 of them. He led the team in minutes per game, averaging 30.1. The 6’3” guard scored third on the team in 2021-2022, averaging 11.0 points per game.
More impressively, despite being a guard, Sturtz led the team in rebounding last season, averaging 7.1 per game, for a total of 255 on the season. After receiving All-MVC Second Team honors following the 2021-2022 season, Sturtz will look to put together yet another strong season in 2022-2023.
Garrett Sturtz is 𝙏𝙊𝙐𝙂𝙃 😤
— Drake Basketball (@DrakeBulldogsMB) January 18, 2022
Moving on to yet another veteran, D.J. Wilkins, also a guard, has played in 127 career games during his college career. Wilkins started all 31 of the games he appeared in last season, before a knee injury ended his season, causing him to miss the postseason.
He averaged 10.6 points per game last year, ranking fourth on the team, and was one of five Drake Bulldogs players to average double-digit points. Last season, Wilkins shot 42% from the field, 39% from behind the three-point line, and 88% from the free throw line.
His three-point and free-throw numbers ranked well above the team averages for the 2021-2022 season. Wilkins also surpassed the 1,000 points scored at the Division I level milestone during the past season. Despite his scoring prowess, D.J. Wilkins received All-MVC Defensive Team honors following the 2021-2022 season.
D.J. will look to continue to lead the Bulldogs in 2022-2023 as an all-around talent on the court. Nonetheless, health will be the big factor to pay attention to for Wilkins in 2022-2023. While still recovering from an ACL surgery, all eyes will be on D.J. Wilkins as he prepares to make his return, hopefully returning as the same caliber player he was last year.
D.J. Wilkins was recognized before the game for joining the 𝟏,𝟎𝟎𝟎 career point club at Drake.
— Drake Basketball (@DrakeBulldogsMB) December 17, 2021
With 101 games under his belt, one of three Drake Bulldogs who have played in over 100 games, Darnell Brodie is another experienced player returning to the team for the 2022-2023 season.
Brodie will be playing in his third season at Drake this year, transferring before the 2020-2021 season, after playing two years at Seton Hall. After appearing in all 36 of Drake’s games last year, starting 15 of them, the 6’10” senior will look to serve as the team’s big man in the 2022-2023 season.
Despite averaging 18.2 minutes per game last season, Brodie only averaged 5.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last year.
Darnell Brodie will look to step into the big man role for the Bulldogs this year, ideally becoming an every-game starter, and looking to use his size to his advantage in the 2022-2023 season.
The #MVCHoops Newcomer of the Week!
— Drake Basketball (@DrakeBulldogsMB) February 2, 2021
Roman Penn rounds out the experienced returners leading into Drake’s 2022-2023 season. With 87 career games under his belt, Penn averaged 11.1 points per game last year, which ranked second on the team.
Despite being second on the team in scoring, Roman Penn led the team with 112 assists last year, which is 36 more assists than the second-ranked in the category. It’s no secret that Penn knows how to put points on the board.
Following a transfer to Drake from Siena, in his first season as a Bulldog, Penn was twice named MVC Newcomer of the Week and was named to the MVC All-Newcomer Team. In each of Penn’s three seasons in a Drake Bulldogs uniform, he was named to the All-MVC team as a third team in 2019-2020, the first team in 2020-2021, and the third team last season, 2021-2022.
As by far the most decorated player on the Drake Bulldogs men’s basketball team, the school’s all-time assists leader and a 1,000-point club member will look to continue to do what he does best this season, which is to score points and create points for his team.
Keeping Roman Penn on the court for each game this season is going to be instrumental in the teams’ ability to win the Missouri Valley Conference in 2023.
— Drake Athletics (@DUBulldogs) March 6, 2020
There is one exception to what seems to be an experienced team for the Drake Bulldogs in 2022-2023, and that is Tucker DeVries. As he returns for his sophomore season, DeVries was arguably Drake’s best player in his freshman season last year.
He led the team in scoring with 13.9 points per game and 502 total points, over 100 points more than Garrett Sturtz, who was second on the team with 396. Tucker DeVries played in all 36 of the team’s games last season, starting 29 of them. He scored in the double digits in 30 of those games and over 20 points in five games.
Quickly approaching Roman Penn as the most decorated member of the team, DeVries came into Drake as the number 98 ranked recruit nationally, the highest-ranked recruit to come to the school since 1989, likely due to the fact that his father is the head coach of the team.
Following his monstrous freshman season, Tucker DeVries was named to the All-MVC Newcomer team, he was named the MVC Freshman of the Year, and received All-MVC second-team honors. The only questions related to Tucker DeVries going into the 2022-2023 season are: Can he do it again? And how can he improve?
DeVries is the most exciting player to watch on the Drake Bulldogs team and is going into this season with the momentum to put up some very substantial numbers in his second season.
— Drake Basketball (@DrakeBulldogsMB) January 23, 2022
Other Players to Watch
While there is a clear list of players that will highlight Drake’s success this season, the team will undoubtedly need some help from other players to have a truly successful season.
Transfers lead the way in potentially impactful players going into 2022-2023.
He averaged 10.1 points and 4.2 rebounds as a freshman at Truman State last year.
Standing at 6’10” he will round out the size for the Bulldogs, likely splitting time with Darnell Brodie, Drake’s other big man.
𝗪𝗲𝗹𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗗𝗿𝗮𝗸𝗲, @ENorthweather!
👤 Eric Northweather
🏡 Jefferson City, Mo.
🏫 Truman State/Blair Oaks HS
— Drake Basketball (@DrakeBulldogsMB) May 18, 2022
Sardaar is the other transfer looking to make an impact this year for the Bulldogs. Transferring in from Texas Tech after spending time at Florida State, Calhoun set school records in his first two seasons at Missouri-West Plains for points in a single game (48), a career scoring average (18.6 points per game), and finished second in school history in scoring, with 1,075 points scored in two seasons.
In that time he also made 183 three-pointers, for a three-point field goal percentage of 44.3%. Calhoun’s past success and Power Five conference experience make him a very intriguing player to look out for this season for the Drake Bulldogs.
𝗪𝗲'𝗿𝗲 𝗨𝗽 𝗯𝘆 𝟰 𝗧𝗼𝘂𝗰𝗵𝗱𝗼𝘄𝗻𝘀
Sardaar Calhoun sets a new career-high with 18 points.
13:30, 2H | Drake 56, IUPUI 28
— Drake Basketball (@DrakeBulldogsMB) November 10, 2022
The shooter will round out the list of players to watch this season. He appeared in 23 games for the Bulldogs last year, all coming off of the bench.
With that said, he shot 48% from behind the three-point arc last season, which included a six for eight from three games against Purdue Fort Wayne, in which he scored 20 points.
It will be very interesting to see if Djamgouz can spend a bit more time on the court this season while keeping up that incredible three-point shooting percentage.
Drake's Okay Djamgouz put up some of the best stats of his career against UT Martin on Sunday – a game that almost didn't happen.
Best of all, the Djamgouz family was in attendance, traveling 13 hours from Toronto to see it happen in person. https://t.co/eINucETjeL
— Alyssa Hertel (@AlyssaHertel) December 20, 2021
Experience mixed with young talent will be the trend for the Drake Bulldogs men’s basketball team in the 2022-2023 season.
With three players all having played in over 100 career games leading into this season, the team will rely on senior leadership to guide the team throughout the season, with their sights fixed on a conference championship.
Despite coming up short the last two seasons, Drake’s mix of experience and youth could be the recipe for the team to live up to their preseason projections, winning the MVC championship.
While there is an endless upside to what this team is capable of this year, health is going to be the number one factor. If the Bulldogs can keep their star players on the court, they will be in great shape to win the Missouri Valley Conference in 2023.