DJ Draper Earns Full Athletic Scholarship
Former Walk-On Earns Full Ride
DENTON – Rising redshirt junior DJ Draper was awarded a full athletic scholarship announced by head coach Grant McCasland.
“It was the first team meeting of the summer and we were reading off what we could improve on from the coaching staff,” Draper said. “At the end of mine, it said you are no longer a walk-on which was a surreal moment because it is something you always dream about. You hope you can accomplish that one day and it is validation that hard work pays off.”
Draper came to North Texas from Birdville High School and redshirted his first season in 2015-16. As a walk-on, he earned some scholarship money through academics. He played in 16 games during his redshirt freshman season in 2016-17 before his breakout season last year. Draper was one of three walk-ons during his time with the Mean Green with Bryce Jackson and Jacob Gross. Jackson and Gross both graduated from North Texas this past season.
“As a former walk-on you get chills from a video like that and I have so much excitement for him,” Gross said. “He has worked so hard and to watch him, having been his teammate, I know it means a great deal. All the late nights in the gym working on his game have paid off. I can’t explain all the joy I have for him because we have become so close he is family to me.”
A three-time Conference USA Academic Commissioner’s medal award winner, Draper has always been a hard worker in the classroom and on the court. In his redshirt sophomore season, Draper played in 34 games and finished second on the team with 49 three-pointers made. His 186 total points were third-most in the nation by a walk-on.
Among the many accomplishments in 2017-18, Draper was named C-USA Winter Spirit of Service award winner representing North Texas in his community service efforts. Draper finished with a 3.81 GPA and volunteered for food drives, visited children’s hospitals, and aided in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
“I think this shows that coach McCasland and the coaching staff just have a lot of trust in me,” Draper said. “I want to bring energy, scoring and be a great teammate to help our team win.”
The Mean Green enter the 2018-19 season with 12 scholarship players coming off a 20-win season, including winning the 2018 College Basketball Invitational. Draper played in all six CBI tournament games and scored 14 points in a key performance off the bench in the semifinal game against Jacksonville State.
“Throughout the season there are highs and lows but as long as you stay true to yourself everything will work out,” Draper said. “If you are the best teammate possible and do whatever the team needs you to do it will pay off in the end.”