By Jon Rothstein
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Playing on a team that’s won only four Big East games in the past two seasons has made Cleveland Melvin a forgotten man.
DePaul’s versatile forward is a producer but not a winner, something that’s hurt his overall profile despite being named the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2011.
Melvin, a 6-8 forward averaged 17.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season for the Blue Demons as a sophomore, and even though DePaul showed noticeable progress in their second season under Oliver Purnell, Melvin was rarely mentioned among the elite players in the Big East conference.
“It’s just motivation,” Melvin said in regards to not receiving major attention. “It makes me wants to do better.”
One Big East assistant coach called Melvin “the hardest player in the conference to stop from scoring“.
Others just rave about his ability.
“He can beat you with his back to the basket or facing up,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said of Melvin. “He is one of the outstanding forwards in the Big East.”
“Cleveland (Melvin) is just a tough, hard nosed kid who brings his lunch pail every game,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III added of Melvin.
Melvin should benefit from playing over the final two years of his college career with a better supporting cast. When he arrived at DePaul in Purnell’s first season, the Blue Demons roster was barren. Still, Melvin made an immediate impact, — and he hasn’t slowed down.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how he’s developed since we got him,” Purnell said of Melvin. “I thought he’d fit our system but he’s really been like a duck to water. Last year people started to double team him and he continued to be productive.”
There are certain elements of Melvin’s game that need to improve if he’s is to lead the Blue Demons out of the Big East basement. In two seasons, Melvin has only made 16-of-71 three point attempts, something that needs to improve if he hopes to get a chance to play at the next level.
“I’ve got to be better on the perimeter than I’ve been,” Melvin said. “I’ve really been working on my shooting and ball handling.”
A more refined Melvin should put him in the conversation with the best players in the Big East Conference and maybe even the country — something Purnell would love to see, but doesn’t ultimately think is necessary.
“Sometimes when a guy gets notoriety, it makes him comfortable,” Purnell said. “I don’t mind how people aren’t talking about Cleveland right now. It keeps him hungry.”
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