DePaul's play in France, food for thought

DePaul's Cleveland Melvin showed he's ready to pick up where he left off last season. DePaul Communication Dept.

DePaul sophomore forward Cleveland Melvin won't be diving into Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" anytime soon.

After spending 10 days playing basketball and touring France with the Blue Demons, Melvin came away with an appreciation for the Eiffel Tower, but not for French food. He did find one restaurant he was willing to visit again.

"I enjoyed their McDonald's out there," Melvin said on Tuesday.

Luckily, it's Melvin's game, not his taste in food, DePaul will be relying on this season. Coming off his freshman campaign where he was named the Big East Rookie of the Year, Melvin proved during DePaul's four-game France tour he has the potential to be even more dominating as a sophomore.

Melvin averaged 23.8 points and 11 rebounds in DePaul's four wins against French competition.

"I was just looking forward to playing good, helping my team to get a victory," Melvin said. "I was just doing what I'm supposed to be doing, playing my role, being a leader on the team. I think a lot of people are looking for me to have an even more balanced season in the upcoming season. A lot of people are seeing what I can do."

Melvin showed during the trip he has diversified his game. He concentrated on his shooting form in the offseason, expanding his shooting range and his ball handling. He felt in the four games he was able to put some of those new skills to use. He even connected on a couple of 3-pointers.

DePaul assistant coach Billy Garrett was especially impressed with Melvin's intensity.

"He just played with a high motor and much more of an understanding for the game," Garrett said. "He's a better player. He's a good leader. He had a great court demeanor.

"What he's done is he's just become a better basketball player. He doesn't have to take every shot. He doesn't have to hunt for his shot."

Sophomore guard Brandon Young also picked up where he left off last season. Young was among the team's leading scorers in all four games. He had a team-high 26 and added six assists, three steals and three rebounds in a win over Toulouges.

"Brandon Young's improved his jump shot," Melvin said. "He knows how to run the offense. He's gotten more comfortable at it."

What Melvin and Young did in France wasn't too surprising. Both are expected to lead the Blue Demons this season. The questions leading into the trip were more about DePaul's newcomers.

Melvin believed after 10 days of practice and the four games in France that the Blue Demons were going to be a better team than last year's 7-24 squad.

"I do see improvement in our team," Melvin said. "We have a lot of athleticism and we're quicker and faster. I think it'll be a good season. We're definitely going to win more games in the Big East."

Of the newcomers, freshman guard Charles McKinney especially impressed Melvin. McKinney had seven points, five assists and three steals in the win over Monaco. McKinney had sat out the team's first few games of the trip due to an injury.

"He's a great defender," Melvin said. "He's able to defense and put pressure on people."

Senior Jeremiah Kelly and sophomore Moses Morgan were constantly among the team's leading scorers, too. Kelly scored in double figures in all four games.

Overall, Garrett thought the coaching staff had been pleased with the trip.

"They all played with high energy," Garrett said. "We played as a team. We shared the basketball. We came closer as a team and improved as a team. We let our defense lead the way. We still got to get better, but it still was a good start."