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Big Jump: Transfers from Division II find homes in Big East
His brother had played at Lewis, near the Strus' home in Hickory Hills, Illinois, and he figured he would be happy there. He scored 1,000 points in two seasons, earned All-America honors and began looking for a new challenge in the spring of 2016.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott said he didn't remember how Suarez's name came across his desk, but he watched video and liked what he saw: big body, scrappy under the basket, ability to shoot the 3-pointerSuarez played a season-high 18 minutes off the bench in a win over UCLA and is averaging 11 minutes, 4.6 points and 2.9 rebounds.
"He's certainly impacted us winning some games already," McDermott said, "and hopefully he continues to improve and helps us in the future."
DePaul's Strus already has established himself as a rising star in the Big EastComing out of high school he was undersized and had one Division I offer, from Chicago StateHis brother had played at Lewis, near the Strus' home in Hickory Hills, Illinois, and he figured he would be happy thereHe scored 1,000 points in two seasons, earned All-America honors and began looking for a new challenge in the spring of 2016He told Lewis coach Scott Trost that he would leave only if he could transfer to a program in the Big East, Big Ten or Atlantic Coast Conference.
"He thought he needed a little more exposure," Trost said"I think he may have thought he accomplished whatever he could hereHe decided to do what was best for himNo hard feelingsGlad to see he's doing well."
Strus used the year he sat out to acclimate himself to the faster tempo and more physical players in Division I, and now he's filling the minutes played by Billy Garrett Jrlast season.
"In Division II there are guys who can shoot 3s and guys who can handle the ball, but there aren't that many that can do it all," Strus said"Here guys have an overall gameIt's a more physical game at this levelWe didn't have a weight program at Lewis and didn't have strength coachesThat's a big thing here."
Strus, who has scored in double figures in all seven games, is happy with his move but has no regrets about his experience at Lewis.
"People think Division II is kind of a joke," he said"It's really good basketballThe guys are still skilled, and there are a bunch of Division I transfers who come down and play right awayIf I was playing that well at that level, I knew I could make the jump to this one and be competitive stillI believed in myself and knew I could do it."
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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