Mike DePersia: A Will to Win

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Freshman point guard Mike DePersia has been making the most of his opportunities here at IUPUI. Realizing he’s achieved his dream of playing basketball at a Division I program, DePersia has become one of the hardest workers on the team and was rewarded with a starting role in the third game of the season.

Following his first two starts, DePersia was awarded the Horizon League Freshman Player of the week. For many athletes, accolades mean their hard work has paid off. For DePersia the only one that he wants is winning the Horizon League Championship.

DePersia is originally from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where he grew up with a twin sister, older twin brothers and his parents who raised a tight knit family. The family comes to many games, and there is a 10-hour difference between Cherry Hill and Indianapolis.

“We are a close family, especially my brothers," said DePersia. "We are always in the gym playing basketball.”

Not only are the DePersia brothers close, but they've also accomplished accolades at the same high school. The twins each scored 1,000 points during their four-year career at Haddonfield High School, then Mike did the same thing in his time there. This made the DePersia family only the fourth in New Jersey history to accomplish this.

“They always help me with stuff like watching film and working out, but to share a legacy like that is cool," said DePersia. The bond between the brothers grows stronger with basketball, because they see him capitalize on his opportunities as he watched them create their own legacies. From watching the brothers play games, practice, and playing with their friends, he knew he'd soon join them. This is where the grit, toughness, and heart he plays with come from.

“There were times when I was younger where they would take me down to the paint and bully me," DePersia said of his brothers. "That definitely made me tough.” This toughness is what helped DePersia win back-to-back state championships at Haddonfield, a toughness he brings to the IUPUI men's basketball team.

Before coming to IUPUI, DePersia packed up his toughness and brought it along with him because it is instantly what his teammates think of when he comes up. A team that wants to win the championship needs toughness. Junior forward Jamil Jackson Jr. notices the same thing.

“He definitely brings a lot of heart and leadership, he’s a small guy but packs a big punch," Jackson said.

DePersia only stands at 5’11, but he possesses the toughness and heart of a giant. Junior guard Jaylen Minnett noticed the hard work of DePersia as well.

“Mike works hard every day and has a great work ethic, he comes in before practice and stays late after practice working,” said Minnett. Minnett, known for his great work ethic as well, appreciates the way that DePersia prepares to be better every time he steps on the court. The way that DePersia approaches the game is respected and acknowledged by his teammates, and you can see it when they are on the floor together. Throughout practice as drills were ran, there were multiple times when the word “great job, Mike!” were yelled. As DePersia would prepare work on free throws, his teammates would cheer him on before he even stepped to the line.

Head coach Byron Rimm II notices the work ethic of DePersia, but he also acknowledges how it translates to the team's play. Usually at any level of basketball, first year point guards are in a hurry--but not DePersia. Once Rimm noticed in the first two games that the team turned the ball over more than he would like, he made the adjustment of inserting DePersia as the starting point guard.

“He comes in and is very steady, and he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes on the floor,” Rimm said. DePersia is so steady, Rimm wants him to be more aggressive.

“I would honestly like to see more mistakes as a result of him being more aggressive looking to score," Rimm continued. "He tries to get others the ball and not score himself.”

DePersia is bringing everything he needs to help the team win, and his aggression will just better their chances. Being a championship team is what the team goal is, and they are working towards it.

“I won in high school and I want to win here, I want to be known as a winner," DePersia said. "I will do what I have to do to help our team win.”

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