East English backcourt out to prove they're the best by winning city and state titles
Detroit – When David Dejulius transferred from Detroit Edison to Detroit East English Village Prep, joining senior Greg Elliott, it wasn’t a matter of if, but just how good the Bulldogs’ backcourt would be this season.
But so far this year, the duo has been widely regarded as the top backcourt in the state as East English has raced to a 10-2 record and the favorite to win the Detroit Public School League title.
Elliott has surged into Mr. Basketball conversation averaging more than 30 points per game, while Dejulius, a junior, has accepted a Michigan scholarship offer.
Although biased, East English head coach Juan Rickman said there’s little doubt as to which team has the top backcourt.
“It’s their chemistry and nobody plays harder than them, together they just play hard,” he said. “One, it’s mandated because of the program and, two, that’s just who they are anyway. Their work ethic is second to none and they play harder than everybody and they come out to prove it every day. They come out with a chip on their shoulder.”
It can be difficult for two of the state’s top scorers to share the floor at the same time. Elliott said that what makes it work is the unselfishness that both he and Dejulius play with that makes playing together effortless.
“It’s actually really easy,” he said. “You know when Dave’s hot, so when Dave gets hot, I’m going to look for Dave and vice versa. It’s easy, especially for me, because I had the chance to play with Kamari (Newman) and it’s something that I’m used to.”
For Dejulius said the transition of playing for East English alongside Elliott has been seamless.
“We felt we were both a little underrated coming into the season and we were just coming out here to prove a point,” he said. “We want Greg to win Mr. Basketball because he’s so unselfish and he’s just continued to get better and I want to see him get what he deserves and he wants to see me get what I deserve. To play alongside of someone who’s such a great basketball player and such a great person, it’s very easy for me.”
After scoring 45 points in a season opening win over Flint Beecher and 48 points in a win over Pershing, Elliott landed his first high-major offer from Marquette and just recently received an offer from Michigan State after scoring 42 points in a loss to Detroit Edison.
Elliott said that seeing his recruitment pick up has been exciting for him, but he’s simply focused on helping his team win.
“It’s been kind of exciting to see my name getting out there a little bit,” he said. “But I just have to keep going, keep playing hard and we want to keep winning.”
Dejulius also had a strong start to the season including a 46-point effort in a 79-63 victory over Macomb Dakota with U-M coach John Beilein in the stands. Beilein offered Dejulius a scholarship after the game.
It wouldn’t take Dejulius long to decide. He committed to the Wolverines the next day.
“It was overwhelming for me because I’ve wanted to go there since I was six years old,” he said. “To be able to get the offer and the chance to play for coach Beilein and his staff and to be able to be a part of such a great university, it was just overwhelming.”
With two players on his team handling the vast majority of his team’s scoring, Rickman said that like Elliott and Dejulius, the rest of his team is unselfish and has its fair share of opportunities to score as well.
“They love it. They’re trying to get them the basketball, the want Greg to win Mr. Basketball,” he said. “They want Dave to dispel the stigma of selfishness that he had, but he’s very unselfish. All of the other kids are shooting too, they’ve got free rein to shoot as long as they’re playing hard.”
After entering this winter as a “dark horse” candidate for the Mr. Basketball Award, Elliott has jumped to the front of the conversation.
Elliott noted that it was his goal starting the season to prove he’s not only a worthy candidate but he’s also out to prove he’s the top player in Michigan.
“Winning Mr. Basketball would be huge,” he said. “Proving to everyone that I’m the best player in the state, but coming into this season as the dark horse, that was just fuel to the fire because I already felt that there was nobody in Michigan better than me. So it was up to me to go out and prove it every night.”
Going forward this season, Elliott and Dejulius aren’t focused on stats or recognition. They want to achieve the goals that East English place in front of itself at the start of the season - winning the PSL title and a state championship in March.
“It’s great to have the success we’ve had early on,” Dejulius said. “It’s a great feeling to play with my brothers and have success with them and it would mean a lot to all of us to be able to put the stamp on (it), and win the city and the state.”