DePaul men’s basketball standouts Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin represented the Blue Demons last week at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Chicago, a Nike sponsored national camp geared toward improving the games of top college and high school players. The camp, held from June 24 – 26, included some of today’s college basketball stars like C.J. Fair (Syracuse) and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Michigan).
“We worked with a great group of guys who pushed us to work hard,” said Young, whose main objective during the camp was to improve his jumpshot. Young shot 42 percent from the floor last season, down a percentage point from his freshman campaign when he sank 43 percent of his attempts.
“When you work hard, you’re going to improve. I worked on my jumpshot technique, learning to improve my arm extension,” said Young. Young talked about how the camp focused on improving composure and strategy, elements that he can bring back to campus. “We learned drills that gave us a different approach to prepare ourselves for games,” said Young, who finished his sophomore season averaging 14.5 points and 4.7 assists per game.
Melvin said that the camp helped him reach new levels as well. “I feel more comfortable in the wing now,” said Melvin, who was the Blue Demons’ leading scorer and rebounder last season, with per game averages of 17.5 points and 7.4 boards. Kevin Durant’s Skills
Academy is specialized for top wing players, developing shot technique, ball-handling and defensive play, all facets of his game Melvin wanted to improve. “It was a great experience working with some great competition,” said Melvin. “I improved my shot and my ball-handling skills.”
Melvin’s shot percentage declined last season from 52 percent to 44 percent from the floor, no doubt as a result of being the team’s number one option, shouldering a heavier offensive load. Thus, the camp was vital to his improvement, especially after the sophomore added a three-point shot to his arsenal last season. The Blue Demons had one of their best seasons in the last five years in 2011, finishing with a 12- 19 overall record, including three Big East wins, the most conference wins the team has had since the 2007-08 season.
DePaul has a bright season in sight with a good cast of players returning Jamee Crockett, Derrell Robertson, Charles McKinney and Worrel Clahar, and adding on incoming freshmen DeJuan Marrero, Jodan Price and Durrell McDonald. Returning to the glory days with this new group of young guys won’t be easy, but DePaul is eager to make that commitment.
Two weeks ago, Young and Melvin joined Head Coach Oliver Purnell and former Blue Demon stars Steven Hunter, Bobby Simmons and Quentin Richardson at Adams Barber Shop for a television commercial shoot, marking the first major filming production for DePaul basketball since the Ray Meyer era. When asked about the offseason workouts and goals for the next season, Young responded optimistically.
“Everybody’s working hard, staying focused,” Young said. “We just want to win more games and make it to the [NCAA] tournament.” The team is working determinedly this offseason to prepare for the fall, looking to hit the ground running.