In what was a trying year for the DePaul Blue Demons, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
While DePaul racked up losses this year at an alarming rate, a bright light in the play of freshman Cleveland Melvin was always trying to break through the dark clouds. On Tuesday, Melvin punctuated an outstanding rookie campaign by being named the Big East Rookie of the Year.
The award was a culmination of hard work on the part of Melvin, who consistently put up solid numbers despite the struggles of the team. Melvin was named the Big East Rookie of the Week four times and was the only unanimous selection to the All-Big East rookie team.
Amongst Melvin's accomplishments were 19 games in double figure scoring, eight 20 plus scoring outputs, while leading all Big East rookies in scoring (14.3 ppg).
In Big East play, Melvin scored 17.4 points a game (which placed sixth in the conference) and also finished fifth in the league in field goal percentage (52.2%).
There could have been room for more production but Melvin's season was cut short three games because of a sprained thumb.
"It's a special moment, it's real big for my family and I want to thank my teammates" Melvin said of winning the prestigious award.
His name will now appear next to a list of Big East legends who have earned the award including Patrick Ewing, Derrick Coleman, Allen Iverson, and Carmelo Anthony.
Melvin is already concentrating on next year.
"We have to keep our confidence up, and work real hard in the off-season," Melvin said.
Melvin is hopeful that DePaul can make some type of postseason tournament next year.
"We have to keep working hard and getting prepared for the off-season, we'll be good"
Melvin was very complimentary of his teammates, and that he and fellow freshmen Brandon Young and Moses Morgan have an especially tight relationship.
"We have the best relationship, we're like brothers," Melvin said when discussing the bond with his fellow freshmen. "We talk to each other (all the time), make sure everything is going good."
For DePaul coach Oliver Purnell, Melvin capturing the Big East Rookie of the Year has extra special meaning since Melvin was the first to sign with him as head coach.
"I'm really happy for him," Purnell said. "He's a young man who came in and did everything we asked him to do. He symbolizes our future. I thought he fit the system and our style. It didn't happen over night. He struggled early, kept working and by the time the Big East rolled around he was ready to roll."
Melvin Caps Off Fantastic Freshman Year
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