Haddonfield’s Mike DePersia is set for national letter of intent day
The slick left-handed point guard from Haddonfield is to sign with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Mike DePersia stays in near-constant motion on the basketball court.
He moves around a lot off the hardwood as well. DePersia's most notable recent trip took him from South Jersey to Las Vegas to Indianapolis.
DePersia, a slick left-handed point guard who led Haddonfield to the Group 2 state title in March, plans to sign a national letter of intent on Wednesday to play for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, an NCAA Division I program in the basketball-crazy state of Indiana.
"It's been a dream of mine for a long time," DePersia said of playing NCAA Division I basketball. "I think a lot of people thought the odds were against me, but it feels great to prove to myself that I could do it."
IUPUI is a 49-year-old satellite campus for both Indiana and Purdue. IUPUI plays in the Horizon League with programs such as Cleveland State, Wright State, Youngstown State, and Northern Kentucky. The Jaguars were on ESPN the other night, losing by 82-69 to perennial national power Xavier.
"I really like the program," DePersia said. "I had never really heard of the school. But when I looked into it, I was impressed. I found out [Cleveland Cavaliers guard] George Hill went there."
DePersia plans to major in engineering. He said because of that academic concentration, he would receive a degree from Purdue University.
DePersia first was contacted by IUPUI coaches during an AAU tournament in Las Vegas in July. He was there with Team Speed, which is coached by his father, Rob DePersia, and features several South Jersey players.
"That's the first time they saw me," DePersia said. "They saw me play three or four games, and then they offered me a scholarship."
DePersia took a visit to the campus in late August. He committed Sept. 2 and plans to sign Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period for all sports except football.
"IUPUI will be getting a winner and leader on and off the court," Haddonfield coach Paul Weideman said. "His work ethic will raise the level of their program."
DePersia made the biggest basket in recent Haddonfield history last season, a putback with three seconds on the clock to lift the Bulldawgs to a 54-53 overtime victory over defending sectional champion Camden in the South Jersey Group 2 semifinals at Cherry Hill West.
DePersia scored 22 points as Haddonfield captured its first state title since 2006 with an imposing victory over Newark Central in the Group 2 final at Rutgers University.
DePersia's ballhandling, passing, scoring, poise under pressure and unflappable confidence helped Haddonfield to a 29-4 record.
"Mike has been the heartbeat of our program since starting at point guard as a freshman," Weideman said. "His 'rep' comes from his reps, which means he pours all his effort and energy into perfecting his craft.
"His skill level is equally matched by his will level, which is a powerful combination."
Haddonfield returns several key players from last year's championship team in DePersia, senior swingmen Aidan Blake and Dan Fleming, senior guard Lewis Evans, and junior guard Ben Ceratto, among others.
The 5-foot-10 DePersia said leading Haddonfield to another state title is tops on his list, a task on which he can fully focus now that his college plans are finalized.
"It's really a relief," DePersia said. "It's kind of a big cloud over you when you don't know where you are going or how the recruiting thing is going to go.
"Now I can just focus on this season and playing with my teammates."
South Jersey Division I signings
Here's a list of athletes who plan to sign national letters of intent with NCAA Division I programs during the early signing period, which starts Wednesday:
Mike DePersia, Haddonfield, IUPUI
Azana Baines, Gloucester Catholic, Duke
Carly Stroemel, Paul VI, Sacred Heart
Brazil Harvey-Carr, LEAP Academy, Rhode Island
Cole Vanderslice, St. Augustine, Villanova
Gerry Peacock, St. Augustine, Dartmouth
Jayson Hoopes, St. Augustine, Virginia
Lillo Paxia, Gloucester Catholic, Florida State
Tyler Cannon, Gloucester Catholic, Iona
Luke Lesch, Gloucester Catholic, Rider
Ryan Nutley, Gloucester Catholic, La Salle
Sean Szestowicki, Kingsway, James Madison
Steve Ruestuccio, Hammonton, Virginia Tech
Zach Grace, Timber Creek, Iona
Dylan Maria, Highland, La Salle
Jordan Sweeney, Egg Harbor Twp., Rutgers
Robbie Petracci, Egg Harbor Twp., Old Dominion
Cory Kessler, Egg Harbor Twp., Hartford
Mike Decker, Clearview, Columbia
Brandon Drapeau, Clearview, St. Joseph
Devin Sharkey, Mainland, Stony Brook
Jordan Vinci, Gloucester Catholic, Loyola Marymount
Victoria Rolon, Delran, La Salle
Sydney Coles, Kingsway, Holy Cross
Alyssa Palmucci, Kingsway, East Carolina
Julia Evernham, Kingsway, Monmouth
Hailey Russell, Riverside, Rider
Hannah Russell, Riverside, St. Francis
Danielle Rooney, Camden Catholic, La Salle
Domenica Rehmann, Hammonton, Georgetown
Naseem Smith, Deptford, Syracuse
Sincere Rhea, St. Augustine, Penn State
Dennisha Page, Woodrow Wilson, Syracuse
Emily Jones, Gloucester Catholic, Georgia Southern
Lucas Revano, Camden Catholic, Penn
Akhil Giri, Moorestown, Colgate