Former USC Trojans guard De’Anthony Melton is one of the players who has likely improved his draft stock at the 2018 NBA Draft Combine.
The 19-year-old prospect went to Crespi High School in Los Angeles before attending USC. He averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists with 1.9 steals and 1.0 block per game as a freshman in 2016-17. He led the Pac-12 Conference with 69 steals and a 4.0 steal percentage.
He eventually left the program after a suspension ruled him ineligible to start the season.
Melton has played well during scrimmages at the Combine and has met with several teams for interviews, including the Los Angeles Lakers. He measured a bit taller than 6-foot-2 without shoes and has an impressive wingspan above 6-foot-8, which will help him defensively at the next level.
We caught up with the guard after his first day of competition in Chicago.
I’d love to hear about your pre-draft process and how you’ve enjoyed your time at the combine thus far.
De’Anthony Melton: Chicago is treating me really well. I’d only ever been out here a couple days for a tournament before so this is the longest I’ve been in the city. I’ve got a few friends out here and the weather has been nice. I’d been working out at St. Bernard’s before this trip. My trainer has been Drew Hanlen and I’ve been working on my shooting, hesitation and quick step. Drew has really helped me with that. The players he has had [like Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine] are so good and he’s made them great. I just want to take all the stuff he has and get me better, too.
Have you’ve been training with any other prospects or NBA players this summer?
DM: I’ve been working with Mo Bamba [from Texas] and Justin Jackson [from Maryland].
How did you feel about your performance during the first day of the combine?
DM: It went pretty well. I haven’t played in a full year and I felt at home back on the court. It was good to see everyone else play, too, and compete. I loved having a score and having so many teams watching me. It was good to give them something. People haven’t seen me in a year and they wanted to see if I’m still the person everyone fell in love with in the beginning. I showed them that I’m the same person, now I have to show them all of me and give them everything that I’ve worked on as well.
In terms of athletic testing and measurements, do you feel comfortable with the results you showed?
DM: Yesterday wasn’t actually my best showing of testing. We did it right after the game and I was a bit stiff, to be honest. But it was alright. I feel like I’m a little faster. All things considered, I did pretty well.
What have you been talking to with teams when you’ve had meetings thus far?
DM: I’ve already worked out with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets. I’ve got a few more workouts with teams that I’m about to finalize. I’ve met with about 10 or 11 teams at this point. Interviews are going well and I’m having fun with it.
Defensively, you’re one of the best players at your position in this class. How have you been able to show this at the Combine during scrimmages?
DM: I was able to show my instincts and my intangibles and the way I carry myself out there. It’s very important for people to know this and you can see it in the way I play.
What kind of role do you think you can play on offense? I know you’ve thrived in a transition offense in the past.
DM: I can fit with anything. I had a lot of success when I was in high school and played for a coach who was very detailed with the way he ran plays. I have also been able to fit in for a system that ran up and down, where I was really able to utilize everyone around me.
You’ve also been able to show your ability to distribute the ball very well. How do you think this will translate to the next level? The ball is always moving when you’re on the court, it seems.
DM: That’s the way the game is played today because the more players you use, the better. I really try to get the best out of everyone and I want to make sure everyone is happy and gets the touches they need to be successful. I pride myself on that. I play the game the right way and I can fit in anywhere.
How has your adjustment been to the NBA distance as a three-point shooter?
DM: I’ve definitely worked on my shooting ability, it’s part of my overall game. I’m a lot better at shooting than I was before my time off. I’ve become a more consistent shooter, too.
Are there any particular players you’ve modeled your game after?
DM: I would say Dwyane Wade, John Wall, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. They really get it done on both ends of the floor.
I noticed that you were wearing Q4 sneakers during the combine on your first day and they looked sharp. I’ve written about them quite a bit before. How did you hear about them?
DM: They’re based in Los Angeles. My manager knew about them. They wanted to work with me and had been watching me for awhile. It’s an honor, I have been working out in them a lot. They’re very comfortable. I have to rep my hometown.
How excited are you to play as yourself in NBA 2K at the next level? How good are you at the game?
DM: It would be so surreal, man. I’d love that opportunity. And, man, I’m the best.