Blue Demon Bulletin has created a series of articles examining the DePaul scholarship roster. The series will be split up into three parts: part one will focus on the upperclassmen, part two focuses on the sophomores and part three examines the freshmen.
The in-depth series hopes to prepare DePaul nation for an exciting season of basketball under second year head coach Oliver Purnell. The exhibition season begins with a Saturday Nov. 5 matchup against Lewis University at McGrath-Phillips Arena. The regular season begins Friday Nov. 11 versus UT-Pan American at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Youth shall lead this roster.
The success of the 2011-2012 DePaul Blue Demons team will depend heavily on the leadership of the sophomore class: forwards Cleveland Melvin and Donnavan Kirk, wing Moses Morgan and guard Brandon Young. Melvin, Young and Morgan combined to average 47.1 percent of the team's scoring output overall last season. In Big East play the percentage went up to 56.5 percent.
Melvin and Young were both named to the Big East All-Rookie team, with Melvin taking home Big East Rookie of the Year honors. In particular, the continued development of those two will go a long way in determining how large of a step DePaul takes from year one of head coach Oliver Purnell's tenure to year two.
While Melvin and Young will have the starring roles, Morgan and Kirk will be counted on to be two significant contributing role players. Morgan's perimeter presence and Kirk's ability to play the center position will factor largely into an improved team rotation.
In future years, this group of players could be looked at as the class that helped establish the foundation of Purnell and his coaching staff at DePaul. It all starts with this season.
#12 F Cleveland Melvin
6-foot-8, 205 pounds
Overall Stats: 26.2 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 5 RPG, 1 SPG, 1.5 BPG, 52.2% FG
Big East Stats: 32.1 MPG, 17.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 51.1% FG
Melvin enters his second season at DePaul much differently than his freshman season.
As opposed to early last season when he was further down in the rotation and playing behind the likes of former DePaul forward Devin Hill, Melvin will be relied upon to be the main offensive target from day one. There will be no easing into the role he starred in last season.
This may not be a problem for Melvin considering that his numbers continued to improve as his role grew bigger in conference play. While clearly being the focus of Big East team's scouting reports, Melvin had seven 20-plus scoring efforts in 15 conference games before missing the final four games of the season due to a left thumb sprain.
Melvin showed a natural comfort in and around the paint last season, scoring seamlessly against bigger and taller defenders. That is why it appears DePaul will continue to develop Melvin at the power forward spot rather than exploring his abilities on the wing, which potentially would disrupt a role that has already proved to suit him.
Melvin's success also was not simply the case of him forcing shots to get his numbers on a struggling team. He played within the team's offense and was primarily efficient due to quality shot selection.
On defense, he is a perfect fit for DePaul's diamond-and-one press with his long arms and athleticism. Several times last season it was his pressure that forced turnovers.
In the off-season, Melvin has worked on expanding his overall game. He has worked on improving his jump shot and range, which was on full display during his four 20-plus point efforts on DePaul's recent trip to France.
The sky is the limit for Melvin's potential.
#20 G Brandon Young
6-foot-3, 193 pounds
Overall Stats: 30.3 MPG, 12.6 PPG, 3.7 APG, 1.1 SPG, 43.1% FG, 32.7% 3FG
Big East Stats: 29.8 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3 TPG, 38.2% FG
Playing point guard in arguably the toughest conference in college basketball can have its ups and downs. Look for more ups this season for Young.
Young started all 31 games at point guard on a team lacking many true offensive weapons, which forced him to be a playmaking guard right from the beginning of the season. Despite not having much space to operate as opposing defenses keyed on him and Melvin, Young delivered a strong season scoring and distributing.
With a roster featuring more offensive talent this season, expect Young to have a stellar campaign in an offense he is now more familiar with. Young has the quickness to be a force distributing the ball in transition, and with more athletes to run with this season, his assist numbers should only improve.
The hope is that Young can improve on his turnover propensity that plagued him last season. Young averaged three turnovers per game, including a season-high nine against Providence in February.
Another aspect Young brings to the team is his ability to be a vocal leader. He showed last season that he is not afraid to motivate teammates during games on the floor or in the huddle.
At times last season Young had his struggles on the defensive end as most DePaul players did. With better team defense, Young could get more involved in forcing turnovers.
#15 SF Moses Morgan
6-foot-6, 218 pounds
Overall Stats: 14 MPG, 5.1 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 28% 3FG, 82.9% FT
Big East Stats: 16.6 MPG, 7.3 PPG, 44.3% FG, 35.7% 3FG
Morgan is hoping to build off a strong finish to last season. DePaul is hoping for a more consistent effort the entire season.
After failing to carve out a defined role in the rotation for much of the first half of the season, Morgan found more minutes and production in the final month. During the final six games, Morgan scored in double-figures five times and averaged 12 points per game.
Morgan shot 28 percent from three-point range despite starting the season 0-17. Morgan's shooting struggles seem that they were just a case of bad luck. He was getting open for shots, but just could not hit them. If the 0-17 stretch is taken out, he shot 36.2 percent from three last season.
Morgan primarily relied on his shooting for offense last season, and struggled to get his driving or mid-range game developed. Morgan may never have the quickness to be able to consistently take his man off the dribble, but just the threat can make him a dynamic weapon. A second year under a coaching staff known for development hopefully has gotten him ready to expand his game and develop all areas.
Morgan was beginning to get more plays run for him off of screens late last season, and it can be expected that he will get even more this season. Purnell showed last year he is not afraid to let his outside shooters be big factors in games.
On defense, Morgan showed the ability to know the right times to take charges. His lack of elite quickness does negatively affect his perimeter defending ability, but he could make up for that by being in the right place at the right time.
#23 F/C Donnavan Kirk
6-foot-9, 222 pounds
Overall Stats: 9.5 MPG, 2.7 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 40.6 FG% in 13 Games with Miami (Fla.)
DePaul fans have not been able to see Kirk in extensive action, but the coaching staff has been able to.
Kirk transferred to DePaul from Miami (Fla.) during last season, and was able to being practicing with the team after enrolling near the start of the Big East schedule. With DePaul only featuring one true center on the roster last season, an addition of an athletic big man that can run the floor and who is familiar with their system is a welcome addition.
Kirk is not a bruising type of big man that has developed post moves. He prefers to be a face-up shooter at this time from the mid-range. His ability to knock down jump shots could create a consistent pick and pop game with Brandon Young.
His athleticism allows him to be a natural fit for the press and as a shot blocker in the halfcourt. Teams should not be able to get as many easy baskets last season when there were not strong defenders at the back of the press.
Once Kirk is eligible, which should be around the time of the Old Spice Classic in late November, he will challenge for center minutes along with incumbent starter Krys Faber and freshman Derrell Robertson Jr. Having more bodies up front will allow DePaul to not be forced to go small as much as they did last season, when they were -7.7 in rebounding margin.
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