Since leading Peoria High School to a state championship nearly four years ago DeWayne Russell has experienced a little bit of everything.
After signing with NAU and averaging 14.4 points per game as a freshman the lightning quick point guard decided to return to the Valley shortly before the start of his sophomore year to play for first-year head coach Dan Majerle at Grand Canyon University. Per NCAA rules he sat out the entire 2013-14 year but was able to practice with the Lopes.
Last season the 5’11”, 155-pounder mirrored his numbers with the Lumberjacks averaging 14.2 points per contest and was named to the second-team All-WAC as Canyon finished tied for second in conference play.
This fall as Russell elevated his play, so to did the Lopes. Majerle’s mix of experienced upperclassmen and talented newcomers has made GCU the hoops talk of the Valley following their 79-75 win over conference heavyweight New Mexico State Saturday in central Phoenix.
The popular social media hashtag #LopesRising couldn’t be more appropriate as GCU sits at 15-2, 2-0 in conference play.
Russell, who has refined his game since stepping on campus back in Phoenix, has been a big reason for Canyon’s break-through season.
“What DeWayne’s about is doing whatever it takes for the team,” Majerle said after a recent GCU win. “That’s sacrificing scoring to get other guys involved. I couldn’t be prouder of him. He’s a great kid. I know every day when I show up there’s going to be one constant and that’s DeWayne Russell competing.”
For Russell, the feeling is mutual about the head coach who has helped mold him on the court but more importantly, off of it.
“I don’t even know what to say, he’s taught me so much…about being a man,” Russell humbly explained to Sports360AZ.com. “I just thank him….that’s going to be my guy forever.”
The two have been instrumental in spear-heading the Lopes Division I arrival as they inch closer to becoming eligible for the NCAA tournament in the next three years.
“GCU offers you…an opportunity [for success],” Russell said. “I can’t even describe it. I want my little brother to come here. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
Russell is averaging 10 points per game and leads GCU with 101 assists (5.9 avg.). He is also tops on the team with 31 steals.
The Lopes’ homestand continues when they face Utah Valley at 4:00 on Saturday.