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DePaul senior Brandon Young has shown leadership in tough times

DePaul's BrandYoung (20) actiduring an NCAA college basketball game with VillanovSaturday Jan. 18 2014 VillanovPa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson) ORG XMIT:

DePaul's Brandon Young (20) in action during an NCAA college basketball game with Villanova, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson) ORG XMIT: OTKLK1

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Updated: March 5, 2014 11:10PM



When DePaul guard Brandon Young is honored on senior night before his last home game Thursday, he’ll be thinking about the teammate who won’t be beside him.

‘‘I would love to have him here with me,’’ Young said of close friend and former Blue Demons forward Cleveland Melvin, who was dismissed from school last month after an undisclosed violation. ‘‘When I’m on the court, I’ll play for my teammates as well as him because he’s still a brother to me and he’s still a part of this team to me.’’

Young and Melvin were bonded from the start. Both were highly regarded recruits from Baltimore, both were named to the Big East’s all-rookie team in 2011 and both were heralded as cornerstones for the future.

Melvin had the starring role after being voted the Big East’s rookie of the year, but it’s Young who will leave as one of the Blue Demons’ all-time best. He enters the game against Butler ranked fifth on DePaul’s all-time scoring list and needs 31 points to overtake Hall of Famer George Mikan for fourth. He is the only player in Blue Demons history with at least 100 assists in each of his four seasons and the only one with at least 1,200 points, 400 assists and 100 three-pointers.

‘‘He’s been resilient,’’ coach Oliver Purnell said. ‘‘It hasn’t been easy, but he’s hung in there through the thick and thin, and he’s still getting after it and playing his best basketball right now.’’

The only number Young won’t have is the one he coveted most: a winning career record (41-82).

‘‘It’s very tough because some people might just look at the losses and throw dirt on your name,’’ he said. ‘‘But they don’t know how much work you’re putting in, day in and day out. I don’t pay attention to that because I know I work hard. When I’m on the court, I give it my all. I can’t go wrong with that.’’

It’s an attitude Young cultivated as he matured through the losing seasons.

‘‘Just staying positive,’’ he said of dealing with the hard times. ‘‘You can’t be negative in the down times because you get down on yourself and bring other negative energy around, so you always want to get better and stay positive.

‘‘Coach Purnell and I would have meetings all the time. I’d come to him; he’d come to me. And former players like Jeremiah Kelly [helped]. And just learning from experience. I know when I was a freshman I’d get down on myself, but there are always better days ahead. It’s like we always say: It’s the next play, the next game and getting better the next day.

‘‘I’ve matured a whole lot, but that’s life. You get better every day and learn new things every day. It’s a life experience. Not only on the basketball court, but in me becoming a better person off the court and showing these guys,‘It’s time to grow.’ ’’

Young said he hopes he will be remembered more for his dedication than for his statistics.

‘‘I hope I leave a great impact [on the program],’’ he said. ‘‘I put in a lot of work and [tried to] show these guys that I want them to work hard and compete. If you do that . . . if you know you gave it your all, you have to feel good about yourself.’’

Email: tginnetti@suntimes.com

Twitter: @toniginnetti



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