Posted On: 04/5/18 8:00 AM

DES MOINES — As a former Iowa prep athlete himself, first-year Drake coach Darian DeVries is putting a premium on landing players from his home state at his new job in Des Moines.

“Any time in recruiting, you’ve got to protect your home base. Everybody knows that,” DeVries said last week at his introductory press conference. “We will do everything we can to recruit the area as hard as we can. There are a lot of great coaches in this state – I think that’s why (the state) also produces a lot of great players – that do such a tremendous job of developing kids from an early age. By the time you get them in college they’re already ready.”

In addition to being an Aplington-Parkersburg grad and a former Northern Iowa Panther, DeVries recruited the state heavily during his 20 years as an assistant at Creighton under both Dana Altman and Greg McDermott that produced 12 NCAA tournament appearances.

“The state of Iowa, to be honest, is a little bit why Creighton got going. We stole them across the river,” DeVries said. “Ryan Sears and Nate Funk and Kyle Korver and Doug McDermott. I had to hire his dad to get Doug. Tyler McKinney, Brody Deren – there’s just so many players that went across the river to Omaha.

“That’s where we got it going, was with players right from this state. So we have to start in and you build around it. The whole midwest is an area we have to be really good in.”

The Bluejays’ roster hasn’t been as full of Iowans since it moved from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East in 2013, but DeVries still kept tabs on the state and now will have a different perspective as a head man in the MVC.

“The biggest thing for us is I’ve been watching all the kids grow up in the state the last few years, and you kind of have an idea of what we were trying to get at Creighton and now at Drake,” DeVries told PHIA. “Some of it will be getting back out, re-evaluating it from an eye of they were close and now you look at them from a different vantage point. How do they fit where we need? Where do we go from there?

Drake will face heavy competition in the state with Iowa and Iowa State always looming and Northern Iowa with a long and accomplished tradition of wooing and producing with in-state players. Garrett Sturtz (Newton) in the Class of 2018 was the first top-30 Iowan that Drake had signed since PHIA started in 2015.

“The biggest thing is we need to do a good job of being visible in the state, making sure that kids understand they’re a priority to us,” DeVries said. “There are so many good coaches in this state that you can find good players, hidden gems that get overlooked on the national scene.

“The biggest thing is getting our arms around it in the near-future and just really looking at what we need, what we’re trying to get and how do they fit. Then we go from there.”

Drake Athletics