The face of DePaul Blue Demons basketball in the Oliver Purnell era has left Chicago. Cleveland Melvin was the center of the attention since Purnell’s first year back in 2010. He was also Purnell’s first letter of intent. Melvin developed from the Big East Conference Rookie of the Year his freshmen year to becoming DePaul’s 7th-leading scorer in program history. During his time as a Blue Demon, he averaged over 16 points and six rebounds a game.
After his departure from the university toward the end of his senior year, Melvin stepped right into NBA D-League action with the Erie Bayhawks. Averaging 11.2 points a game in his minimized season, the Baltimore, Maryland native strives to transition to the professional game. He brings the tenacity to work under the basket, but is not limited to post play. He is a player that can knock down a shot from numerous places on the floor. Moving forward, a look into Melvin’s future performance may be indicated by his past.
Melvin is only the third recipient of the Big East Rookie of the Year award in school history, thus exemplifying exceptional success since the league coined the award in 1980. Melvin’s achievements mirrored those of Billy Garrett Jr. in his freshmen campaign, averaging 12 points a game compared to Melvin’s 14 his first year. Although he and Garrett are undoubtedly different players, the same leadership from a young player was still anticipated. If Cleveland Melvin wants to make the jump, he has to build off of his brief D-League success. For any player to jump onto a new team midseason in a different league is a difficult task.
Melvin stepped onto a Bayhawk team that went 16-34 in 2013-2014, including a 3-7 record with his presence. Favorable performances by Melvin have the ability to propel him into a draft eligible position. With an invitation to the Association as the ultimate goal, he must continue to improve his game as he begins to hit his prime. He would be the first Blue Demon to go to the NBA since Wilson Chandler in 2008. For him to hold long relevancy amongst DePaul basketball, a story of success must generate outside of the D-League.
It is only up to him and his work ethic to not only develop his skills, but to be a student of the game. Team chemistry while adopting a new leadership role are old challenges he faced in college and will again throughout his career.
While it is a work in progress, this completed storyline of Cleveland Melvin is far from told.