Sweet 16: Cleveland Melvin, DePaul

(US Presswire )
October 31, 2012|By Matt Bracken | The Baltimore Sun

Cleveland Melvin probably snuck up on more than a few teams during a 2010-11 season in which he was named Big East Rookie of the Year. But there was no element of surprise last season, when the Lake Clifton grad put up 17.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for the Blue Demons.

“Coming into the season, [DePaul coach Oliver] Purnell told me everyone is going to know who I am now,” Melvin said. “Obviously, that’s what happened. Teams started putting more pressure on me and being more physical. I didn’t know it was going to come around, [but I was] just being smart with it, sharing the ball more. I got a lot of double teams.”

Other Division I college basketball players from Baltimore have played in NCAA tournaments, and others might have more pro potential than the 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward. But no current DI player from here has accomplished more individually against high-level completion than Melvin, the No. 1 player on The Baltimore Sun’s 2012 Sweet 16 list.

“It means a lot to me,” Melvin said. “I always wanted, ever since I was young, to be in the position I’m in now. All I knew was just to work hard and stay out of trouble in Baltimore, because my mom, she [brought] me in to playing basketball. And ever since then, I’ve just been growing and growing. Getting better, improving my game and just expanding [since I] got to college.”

It’s been an unlikely two years for Melvin, who played second fiddle to Portland Trailblazers rookie Will Barton – The Sun’s No. 1 Sweet 16 selection last year – at Lake Clifton before doing a post-grad year at Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts. More than a few people thought he’d be better suited at a mid-major school.

“A lot of people back home really didn’t believe that I could be in the Big East since I first started college,” Melvin said. “A lot of people thought I was going to go DII and stuff like that. They thought I wasn’t big or strong, always skinny. I took that as motivation and just started working hard before I came to college. [Cecil Kirk] coach Anthony Lewis, I just listened to him. He helped me out and [took me] to camps and stuff. Obviously, that made my game a lot better. I started to prove it on the court.”

The skepticism about Melvin seems silly now – especially after he reached double figures in 29 of DePaul’s 31 games last season. The major constants for the Blue Demons (12-19, 3-15 Big East) were the steady point guard play from Randallstown native Brandon Young and the double-double potential of Melvin on any given night. Melvin said he was ready to be “on everybody’s scouting report.”

“I mean, it just came to me,” said Melvin, who shot nearly 45 percent from the field. “I’ve been patient on offense. The offense was obviously built around me and Brandon. [It was about] just being more patient on offense, just doing what I have to do to help me and my team score and put me in position to put points on the board.”

Melvin, a preseason second-team All-Big East selection, has been focusing on rebounding, defense and leadership during practice this fall. DePaul is picked 13th in the 15-team Big East, so the former Lakers star will again be tasked with guiding the Blue Demons up the conference standings. As a junior, Melvin is ready to prove the doubters wrong once again.

“A lot of people have been seeing us and talking that we’re down in the Big East. We’re at the bottom,” Melvin said. “But we also take it as motivation, me and the rest of the team. We’ve just been working hard this offseason. The freshmen are coming in and learning. We took that and move forward. So now we’re on the right page.”




The Sweet 16 is an occasional series profiling the best Division I college basketball players from the Baltimore area. Players were selected based on prior accomplishments and projections for the upcoming season.

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