The Bearcats Blog countdown continues on this mighty fine Tuesday. There will be more about the football team as well as we quickly approach the start of the 2012 season. The top priority though is getting through the countdown. I can't stop at number 16 and roll out the top 15 in 2013. Well, I easily could but that wouldn't be good for business. What business? I don't know. The pretend business where I make millions of dollars off this site and hang out in the Dubai with rich people at the tallest building in the world. Sheikh Mohammed and I go way back. The next player on the list has nothing to do with any of that. It's the Helicopter, Melvin Levett.
Melvin Levett had a great career at the University of Cincinnati. He scored over 1,100 points. He was twice named a second team All-Conference USA player. He was a leader for the Bearcats. He was a solid 3 point shooter that some people remember as not being that great because he had one bad year. Oh, and Melvin Levett is one of the absolute best dunkers in the history of Cincinnati basketball. He did things like this.
It wasn't all flashy dunks the first season Melvin Levett stepped on the floor as a Bearcat. Ok, it really might have been. He played in 21 games his freshman season. There aren't game stats for those days available online. We do know that Mel made 20-42 from the field. That's a robust 47.6%. I wasn't joking when I said he might have dunked everything. Levett hit 7 of 20 from 3, 35%. He was 3-4 from the foul line. He had 3 assists, 3 steals and 15 rebounds. There is no mistaking that Mel Levett was a gunner. 2.4 points in limited action shows that. Luckily for all of us, stat sheet has the next season covered so we can do a traditional breakdown.
Melvin Levett played in 33 of the 34 Cincinnati games in the 96-97 season. He was a role player off the bench, but did start a pair of games. For all the good memories we have of the Helicopter, he only started 56 games in his UC career. That's less than Cashmere Wright. Mel had 2-2-2 in the first game of the season. He played 17 minutes against Radford, scoring 4 points on 1-5 shooting, with 5 boards, 2 assists and 1 steal. Levett didn't miss against Eastern Michigan. He hit 5-5, 2-2 from 3, 1-1 FTs, for 13 points. After 3, 4 and 0 the next 3 games, Missouri State felt Levett's wrath as he put 9 points and 7 boards on them. That would be his season high in rebounds.
Conference play started and Levett's role fluxuated. He hit a pair of 3s against UAB, but didn't score in 4 of the first 6 conference games. UC went out of conference to play South Carolina. Levett scored 4 to help Cincinnati hit the 100 point mark. Mel went on a little hot streak. He scored 8 against DePaul, 9 against Tulane, 4-4 FTs, in a 1 point win, and 8 against Marquette. Levett scored 6 the next 3 games combined. Then Cincinnati hosted Houston. Levett played 24 minutes against the Cougars. He had 25 points. He hit 8-14 from the field and made 8-9 at the free throw line. He added 6 rebounds. It showed a flash of the player he would grow to be. Melvin followed with a solid 8-4-2 against USF. He didn't score in 3 of the next 4 games. The regular season finale against Memphis would be the last time he went scoreless as a Bearcat. Levett played at least 18 minutes the rest of the way. He had 5-5 against St Louis in the C-USA tournament opener. He had 4-6 as UC was bounced by Marquette in the next round. Mel had a solid 4-4 against Butler in the first round of the NCAA tournament. He had a less solid 7 points on 1-7 shooting, 1-5 from 3, against Iowa State. UC lost that game.
The sophmore season numbers from Melvin Levett were 45-113 from the field for 39.8%. That's practically 40% and it was the only time he didn't shoot 40% in a season his career. He was just 14-48 from 3, 29%. Levett was 33-41 at the free throw line. That is 80.5%. He had 137 points, 4.2 a game. A flipped version of the season prior. He pulled in 64 rebounds, 1.94 a game. Levett added 22 assists, 10 steals and 10 blocks.
Melvin Levett played every game his junior season. He started 21 of them. He didn't start the season off so well thoguh. He was 1-9 for 7 points in a tight opening win for the Cats. He had 18 on 5-11, 6-6 FTs, 7 rebounds in the loss to Arizona State. He scored 11 the next game, but at the expense of 3-14 shooting. Mel hit 5 of 8 the following game against Alcorn State. The most memorable of his 12 points was this.
Mel scored just 4 against Wright State, but had 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks. He then heated up in a major, major way. Cincinnati was blown out in the Crosstown Shootout by Xavier, but Levett had 19 points on 7-12 shooting. He needed 20 shots to score 20 points against Minnesota, but Mel pulled in 11 rebounds in the UC win. The big one was against Eastern Kentucky. Levett hit 10-14 from the field. Oh, I read that wrong. He hit 10 of 14 FROM THREE and 16 of 24 overall for a career best 42 points. He chipped in with 6 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. The 10 threes in a game is still a Cincinnati record. He did lose to Eastern Kentucky 53-42 though.
Levett followed his career day by hitting 1 of 7 from 3 and missing all 6 of his 2 point shots, but his 7 points helped UC beat UMass. He would respond by having the second best game of his career. He hit 5 of 8 from 3 and 3-4 from the foul line, in a 13-21, 34 point performance against Winthrop. Mel had 7 rebounds. He did all that in 29 minutes. He was outscoring Winthrop when he left the game. He lost to them 36-34. Mel scored 19 on 8-19 against Houston and 16 on 6-11, 4-7 from 3, to help UC to a 2-0 start in conference play. He had 3 against Marquette, which kicked off a shooting slump. He hit 5-16, but hit 7 free throws for a 19 point game. He was 7-17 against Louisville for 15 points, but he had 11 rebounds for his second, and final, double double of the season. He was 1-6 against Tulane for 2 points, but had 6 boards and 6 assists, along with 4 steals. The slump ended on a 5-13, 12 point game against Marquette in the first UC loss of 98.
Rhode Island made a trip to Cincinnati in a rare late season non-con game. Mel liked seeing new blood. He scored 22 points on 9-17 shooting, including 4 triples, with 6 rebounds in the UC win. He was an efficient 5-9, 14 points against Louisville, with 4 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals. The Bearcats fell to South Carolina, but Mel had 21 on 8-16. That means the Rhode Island game wasn't a rare late season non-con game. Pretend I didn't just say that to start the paragraph. Melvin put 19-8-5 on DePaul the following game. Charlotte held him to 6, but Mel hit 6-10 to put 15 on St Louis. He couldn't find the range against USF, 3-10, but hit all 6 free throws in a 14 point effort. He was just 3-11 the following game, 10 points, but he went off on DePaul again. Levett scored 19 a second time against the Blue Demons, this time on 7-12 shooting. 5 of those were 3s. He scored 26 in a 1 point win over Charlotte and pulled in 7 boards. The 7 boards were matched against St Louis, along with 10 points. Levett went 4-12 in that game, which was the regular season finale, and a combined 3-15 to open the conference tournament. He scored 2 and 7. Levett carried the Cats in the title game. He had 15 points on 6-11, 3-6 from 3, along with 6 boards and 2 steals as UC beat Charlotte. Levett went right back to being miserable in the NCAA tournament. He was 2-7, 4 points, and only played 26 minutes in the win over Northern Arizona. He played a season low 14 minutes with a season low 1 point in the loss to West Virginia.
The overall numbers for Melvin were very good. He was 166-398, 41.7% from the field. He hit 73-193, 37.8% from 3. He was 60-80, 75%, from the foul line. He had 465 points. He had 155 rebounds, 46 assists, 32 steals and 10 blocks. His averages were 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1 steal. That earned him second team All-Conference USA honors. He was the 3rd leading scorer, the 3rd leading rebounder and the 3rd leading assist man on that squad.
The tradition of not having strong opening games of the season lasted all 4 years for Melvin. He had 7 points on 3-16 to kick off the 98-99 season. He had just 5 the next game. He scored 12 against Iowa State on 5-13 and had 5 rebounds in the win. He opened the year 3-16 from 3. The win over Iowa State happened in the Great Alaska Shootout. The championship game was against Duke. Levett hit both of his 3s, because of course he did and lit up the Dukies. He made 9 of his 12 twos for an 11-14, 25 point performance. He had 5 boards in that game. The 11th field goal is one of the most famous shots in Cincinnati history. Let's watch.
Could watch that all day long. Levett wasn't done hurting teams. He hit 8 of 16 from 3 in a 10-20 shooting performance to score 28 against Oakland. He hit 7-15, 4-6 from 3 in a 22 point game against ULL. Levett went 5-8 to score 14 against Nichols State. He was not good against Minnestoa, 3-13, 11 points, but UC beat them anyway. Levett put together a solid 19-7-4 against UNLV to follow. That was good because he went 3-18 for 8 total points the next 2 games. In classic Levett fashion, he brought it back strong. He had 23 on 9-13, 5-9 from 3 after going 1-10 from 3 the previous 2 games, against UNC-Wilmington. Mel had 9 against Marquette, but 27-9 against DePaul. He was 10-17, 6-12 from 3, in that one. That was followed by another dud, 2-10, 5 points. Levett had 13 on 4-8 with 6 boards, but UC took their first loss of the season against Charlotte that night.
The Bearcats started another winning streak as Levett continued to play well. He had 11 against Oklahoma, 18 on 6-11, 5-6 FTs, with 5 steals against Louisville. He had 20 on 5-14 shooting, by going 3-7 from 3 and 7-8 at the foul line, in a win over St Louis. Mel put up 23-7 on Xavier, once again using 7 free throws to boost his scoring. He had 12 against UAB, but 22 on 8-15 shooting ast Tulane. Levett was 4-11, 11 points, in the Bearcats loss to DePaul. He was 3-9, 7 points, in a follow up loss to Marquette. He had 5 boards and 3 steals in that game. That game was also notable because it was the game that Levett went over 1,000 points for his Bearcat career. UC lost the next game as well, with Mel going for 19 on 8-17, 3-10 from 3. The losing streak ended with a win over Charlotte, in which Levett scored 12. He scored 7 and 6 the next 2 games on 3-16 shooting, highlighted by 1-9 from 3. Levett hit 2 of 3 from 3 the next game Memphis for 6 of his 14 points. UC would have played South Florida even if it weren't for Levett, his 20 points was the margin of victory. He did that on 8-16 shooting. Levett was 3-13 for 12 points, 6-7 FTs, which happened to be a C-USA tournament loss to Charlotte. The NCAA tournament was a little kinder to Melvin. He had 11-5-2 against George Mason. He scored 14 against Temple, but needed 15 shots to do so. He had 14-5-3 steals in his final game as a Bearcat.
Melvin Levett his 165-408 for 40.4% his senior year. He was 70-210 from 3, 33%. He was 67-89, 75.3% at the foul line. That added up to 467 points. He had 115 rebounds, 47 assists, 27 steals and 10 blocks. His averages were 14.2 points, 3.48 rebounds, 1.42 assists and 0.8 steals. He was the second leading scorer on the team. Levett was once again honored as a second team All-Conference USA selection. He was in the college dunk contest after the season. That's why he's jumping over a cart in this picture.
Why He Made the List
Melvin Levett was a big time player. When he had his shot going, he was unstoppable. Not too many players explode for 42 points. Not too many players scored 20 points 15 times in their UC careers. Melvin Levett was one of them. He was also one of the absolute, most exciting players to ever wear a Cincinnati uniform. No one could do what he did on the court. He was blessed with a lot of talent. He used his talent very well. It also helps that Melvin Levett made the best dunk in the history of Cincinnati basketball. He made the most famous dunk in the history of Cincinnati basketball. He made the biggest shot of modern Cincinnati basketball to boot.
What He's Doing Now
Melvin Levett was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1999 NBA draft by Detroit. He never played in the league. He moved on to coaching. He coached numerous AAU teams. He coached at Miami-Hamilton. Now, he's the coach of Aiken's women's team. He was also a coach at the Kyrie Irving camp up in Cleveland and there just happened to be a story about it today. Read it. He is also on twitter @MelvinLevett, although he hasn't updated in a month.