DePaul men’s basketball hosts preseason media day

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Throughout his college career, DePaul star Cleveland Melvin primarily played the power forward position.  

At 6-foot-8-inches, Melvin was considered to be undersized at the position because the team lacked size.  The 22-year-old senior still had great success, winning Big East Rookie of the Year in 2011 and leading the team in scoring the last three seasons.

Heading into his final season, Melvin will finally get a chance to play small forward.

Speaking with media Tuesday, men’s basketball head coach Oliver Purnell said that the addition of three new big men will give Melvin the opportunity to play his natural position.

“He’s adjusting to that pretty well,” Purnell said. “A bigger front line should equal to us becoming a better rebounding team, a more formidable team. With Cleve’ out on the wing, it points you in a certain direction.”

DePaul basketball added seven new players this offseason. Freshman Tommy Hamilton Jr., junior college transfers Forrest Robinson and Greg Sequele, and Purdue transfer Sandi Marcius will all get minutes at the four and five positions, freeing up minutes for Melvin at the three.

Purnell said that adjusting the team to his new players has been a challenge but added that it’s ultimately better for the team.

“Anytime you’ve got a lot of new guys, it makes the learning curve a little bit steeper,” Purnell said. “But they’re better. We needed size and strength. We got some. We’ve got some perimeter players, some young ones that we’re very high on from a talent perspective.  So we’d rather have some better, talented players and figure out how to use them.”

Melvin playing small forward isn’t the only lineup change Purnell seems to be making either. Freshman Billy Garrett Jr. has made an impact right away, meshing with Brandon Young in the backcourt.

Garrett Jr. _㐠a top-100 recruit _㐠and Young have both taken turns playing point guard while the other plays off ball. While Garrett Jr. doesn’t have a preference, Young said that he prefers playing at point guard.

“If Coach Purnell wants to play me off ball, that’s what I’m willing to do,” Young said. “Anything for a win, I’m willing to do.”

How effective the new lineups are remains to be seen.  The Blue Demons have a lot to prove after recently being ranked last in a preseason Big East coaches’ prediction poll.

“It bothered me (that DePaul was ranked last),” Purnell said. “From the standpoint, I’m a competitor. I don’t want anyone to think of us as last, but at the same time it also motivated me. I think it will motivate our team to prove to the media, prove to the other coaches that we aren’t the last place team (in the Big East).”

Garrett Jr. may be a freshman, but he believes in the talent within the team.
“From being in practice and playing with these guys, I think our talent level can win us 20 games,” Garrett Jr. said. “I think we’re all going to do well.”