The first time Cleveland Melvin went through the recruiting process, trips were taken to Connecticut and DePaul.
The former Lake Clifton standout loved the Blue Demons' Chicago campus, but ultimately decided to commit to the Huskies in November.
When Melvin and UConn parted ways in March, a host of high-major schools came calling again – including DePaul. On Monday, the 6-foot-8, 210-pound Melvin pledged to the Blue Demons.
"It feels great. I always wanted to play in the Big East," said Melvin, who also considered Marshall and Rutgers. "I was feeling a lot of schools, but I'm just happy it's over with. It's a great atmosphere out there. It felt different from home. So it was just a great experience to be in Chicago."
Melvin, who took another trip to DePaul earlier this spring, joins Randallstown native and Friendship Collegiate (D.C.) point guard Brandon Young in the Blue Demons' 2010 class. Becoming a part of Oliver Purnell's first class at DePaul was a major selling point for Melvin."I saw his success at Clemson," Melvin said. "I know that he can do the job at DePaul, help rebuild the team and everything. He'll get them back on track."
Melvin averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks for Lake Clifton two seasons ago, helping the undefeated Lakers to the Class 3A state championship in 2009. Last fall he headed to Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., for a post-grad year.
"Everything went perfect," Melvin said. "Academically, I got what I needed and got my SAT score. On the court, it was a good year with Coach [Ryan] Hurd. We had a great team that went far. We had a great record, 30-5. [I averaged about] 15 points, 12 rebounds [and] four blocks."
Soon after enrolling at NDP, Melvin's recruitment took off, culminating with his commitment to UConn. Three months later, Melvin decided to reopen his recruitment and find a program that wanted him to play the 3 instead of the 4. The Blue Demons coaches, Melvin said, will give him that opportunity.
"He fits in because of their style of play," said Anthony Lewis, Melvin's AAU coach at Cecil Kirk. "It's a team that plays the transition style of play. He has that freakish athleticism that you just don't see in players. He's just gifted and blessed with the ability to explode to the basket. If you put him in the open court, he can be so dangerous."
Melvin is back in Baltimore now, working out and continuing to develop his skills on the wing. He'll move to Chicago next month for the start of summer school, and the beginning of a new era in DePaul basketball.
"I'm coming in and doing what I'm supposed to do," Melvin said. "And hopefully we can have a great season next year ... and make it to the tournament."
Baltimore Sun photo of Cleveland Melvin by Gene Sweeney Jr. / Feb. 23, 2009