Melton stands out in workout, sees fit with new wave Clippers

PLAYA VISTA — Former USC guard De’Anthony Melton sat in a chair smiling in the middle of the Clippers’ film room, almost giddy while pondering a possible version of his future.

“Man, after practice if I could go home to my little brother, my mom, that’d be crazy,” Melton said. “All my resources are here, and it would be an honor just to play in front of all my friends and family.”

Melton was asked what it would be like to play for the Clippers following a workout with the team on Monday. Despite not playing competitively for the past year, Melton thought the workout felt all too familiar.

“I had played against Troy Brown before, so I kind of knew him coming in. Drew Eubanks has been with my agency, so I’ve seen him play before,” Melton said. But why was he so comfortable and what made this one different? “Just being home, just having everyone here,” he said.

Melton grew up in the Los Angeles area, attending Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, and later attended the University of Southern California, where he enrolled in 2016. In his freshman season, he averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists, with his skill set often described as like a Swiss army knife. However, during his sophomore season, he was declared ineligible relating to a broader probe into the university’s athletic program. As such, Melton has not played competitive basketball in over a year, which makes him one of the hardest players to evaluate ahead of this June’s draft. So, the Clippers invited him to Monday’s workout, and he stuck out.

“Melton was spectacular in terms of his effort level,” said Trent Redden, Assistant General Manager for the Clippers. “[It’s helpful] to see where the growth in his game was.”

Since February, Melton has been training privately, preparing extensively for the draft.

“I’ve gotten a lot better at the pick-and-roll and being a point guard,” Melton said. “My shooting has looked a lot better, feels a lot better, so, I’m getting better at that. I just can’t wait to develop as a basketball player.“

Although, what Melton is best at, he believes, aligns perfectly with the direction of the Clippers’ franchise.

“I love this new wave [the Clippers] are getting on, defensive, long guys, two-way players,” Melton said. “And I feel like I’m one of the best at that.”

Melton stands at 6-foot-3, with nearly a 6-foot-9 wingspan. One of the players he mentioned spending time watching film on is Avery Bradley, whose body type is very similar to his own at 6-foot-2, with a 6-foot-7 wingspan. Some players exert all their focus and energy on offense, neglecting defense, or vice versa. But for Melton he sets a high standard of performance on both sides of the ball.

“For players to really get it done on both ends and do it well, it’s hard. It’s a lot tougher than people think,” he said.

From the team side, hosting Melton in a workout was helpful in answering certain questions that don’t translate when studying tape.

“It’s all [that] body language and all those things that go into being a really, really good player that you miss just by watching the video,” Lawrence Frank said, President of Basketball Operations.

How does he respond to coaching, how does he respond after he makes a mistake? How does he respond to a teammate making a mistake, to that teammate?”

As Melton sat in the film room after the workout, contemplating the possible match between himself and the team that brought him in, analyzing all the benefits to staying home, he recognized a piece of himself within the Clippers organization.

“The Clipper organization is up-and-coming, and I could tell they’re hungry. Hungry because they want success right away and I think I can bring them that,” Melton said.