At this point it's pretty obvious that Cleveland Melvin has had an excellent freshman season for DePaul. Since he got injured the Blue Demons haven't been the same team. Well today the All-Big East teams were announced and Melvin was the lone unanimous vote getter for the Big East All-Rookie Team. We won't know if that translates to a Big East Rookie of the Year Award until Tuesday, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Melvin's going to win.
I compared the 13 Big East freshman that played at least 340 minutes in conference play this season (sorry Moses Morgan!) and came to the conclusion that Melvin dominated his peers. For the comparison I looked at Usage Percentage, Points Per 40 Minutes, Rebound Rate, Steal Rate, Block Rate and Assist Rate. I used rate stats because I wanted to make the fight as fair as possible for players that were playing on deep teams and thus weren't able to play quite as many minutes. I only considered conference games. Like he did during many games, Melvin looks very good.
Melvin is the leader in Usage% and Points Per 40 Minutes, he's second in Block Rate and third in Rebound Rate. When you add up his ranks he finishes at 30. That puts him ahead of everyone. Rutgers' Gilvydas Biruta, who played 70 fewer minutes in conference play, finishes second. Basically, Melvin, while being asked to be the centerpiece on a rebuilding DePaul team, blew away his peers statistically.
After you do these ranks, what you're left with is exactly the Big East All-Rookie Team. Here is the entire list of players considered with their total ranks. Note: A perfect score here would be a 7, but that's almost impossible.
- Cleveland Melvin - DePaul, 30
- Gilvydas Biruta - Rutgers, 35
- Shabazz Napier - Connecticut, 41
- Sean Kilpatrick - Cincinnati, 43
- Jeremy Lamb - Connecticut, 44
- Brandon Young - DePaul, 44
- Mike Poole - Rutgers, 51
- C.J. Fair - Syracuse, 51
- Fuquan Edwin - Seton Hall, 53
- Gerard Coleman - Providence, 55
- Roscoe Smith - Connecticut, 60
- Eric Atkins - Notre Dame, 64
- Nate Lubick - Georgetown, 65
Now, I know that a certain writer feels that Atkins got robbed
, but when compared with his peers its tough to say that anyone made the wrong decision. If anything, the voters got it exactly right.
I guess one note in these rankings is that Biruta also had an excellent season for Rutgers. He certainly hasn't gotten enough publicity while playing a key role for a Scarlet Knights team that is a surprising 14-16 overall and 5-13 in conference this season. But unlike Melvin, Biruta hasn't dominated on a consistent basis. Biruta had a stretch of five straight Big East games where he failed to score in double-figures. On the other hand, Melvin only failed to reach double-figures in two conference games - against Notre Dame and at West Virginia.
In the end it's that consistency that will earn Melvin the Big East Rookie of the Year Award and provide yet another confirmation of the strong base that Oliver Purnell has here with his freshman class.