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DePaul Names Local Boy New Coach

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Apr 29, 2005 7:10PM

In finding a replacement for Dave Leitao, DePaul bypassed the big names coaches that made early lists of candidates. Instead, they selected a coach who began making a name for himself by leading two different schools to the to the NCAA tournament in recent years. In hiring Jerry Wainwright from the University of Richmond, a local boy returns to Chicago.

2005_04_sports_depaul_wainwright.jpgWainwright grew up in suburban Berwyn, playing basketball for Morton West High School. After beginning his coaching career as a graduate asst. in Colorado, he moved back to Chicago and coached at East Leyden High School before taking the reins at Chicagoist's alma mater, Highland Park. It was while at at HPHS that Wainwright nearly lost his life in an accident on an Indiana highway. Driving a number of HPHS players home from a basketball camp, their van was side-swiped by a semi and Wainwright was ejected from the van (where was his seat belt?). He "broke his right hip and collarbone, punctured a kidney and lung, and nearly bled to death before an ambulance arrived. He eventually lost the lung and spent 50 days in the hospital..."

In 1984, he chose to take a huge pay cut to move to the college level as an asst. coach at Xavier University. He followed the head coach the next year to Wake Forest, where he eventually recruited current NBA superstar Tim Duncan. In 1994, Wainwright landed the position at UNC-Wilmington, fulfilling his dream of becomming a head coach. After taking the Seahawks to the Big Dance for the first two times in school history, he moved to Richmond in 2002 where he lead the Spiders to the tournament in 2004. He now returns to his hometown with the chance to head up one of college basketball's more prestigious programs, as they move into the Big East Conference next season.