As the summer continues, recruitment on the basketball front intensifies. As for the Hoosiers, it seems like they are trying to fill just one more spot for their already four man strong class of 2013. Just to remind everyone, they currently have verbal commitments from Devin Davis, Collin Hartman, Luke Fischer, and Stanford Robinson. The last two players are currently ranked 92nd and 59th, respectively, in the ESPNU 100.
With the notion that Mr. Zeller might leave for the NBA after his sophomore year becoming more relevant, people are wondering who will be able to fill that void at the big man position. Peter Jurkin from the 2012 class is a 7 foot center, but the truth is that he simply is not as strong as athletic as Cody. Jurkin can indeed jump out of the gym and swat shots like it is his job, but I have a feeling that he will see minimal playing time his first year in Bloomington. For the class of 2013, Luke Fischer is still underrated for his knowledge of the game, which is also seen in Zeller. However, like Jurkin, Fischer does not have the strength to make a huge impact when he comes to IU in the fall of 2013. However, that doesn’t mean that he cannot be utilized for his skills to get to the basket and create open shots for others by sucking in the defense in the paint. But what the Hoosiers are going to be missing is a true center. They need a guy that can dominate the paint and muscle up the Draymond Greens and Jared Sullingers of the future in the Big 10. Take Zeller for example. There is absolutely no doubt that he knows the game and knows how to create, but the problem that could be seen clear as daylight in the past season was that his strength was greatly tested against Michigan State and Ohio State. He can play the center and still show his All American capabilities, but the Hoosiers need a true center for the future. That’s where Kennedy Meeks can come in and provide exactly that.
Take BeeJay Anya (current 2013 Hoosier recruit), clone him, but place him in North Carolina. Your result is Kennedy Meeks. Pretty much the same height and weight. A long list of offers with Indiana in the mix. Meeks is currently 29th in the ESPNU 100 rankings and the second best center in the nation, behind Anya. Being from North Carolina, it is a given that he has offers from North Carolina and the revitalized NC State. But thrown in the mix are Syracuse, Georgetown, and Louisville. More recently, Crean and staff have made Meeks a priority recruit along with Anya. One or the other is the mentality that is becoming apparent with the two centers. Similar to Anya, Meeks is able to muscle up other big men in the paint and become a big target while posting up. Something that Meeks is constantly praised for is his ability to pass out of the post. For all you Hoosier fans, this is something that would work perfectly with our offense. Shooting has been a strong point in the Hoosier offense, so if you have a big guy with a large target in the post, he can suck in the defenders on the perimeter and open up the shooter behind the arc. If not, he can use his weight, height, and strength to dominate the paint.
One thing that Meeks has on a lot of big guys is his ability to catch the ball in the high post or elbow of the paint and turn to the basket to create his own shot. A near 300 pound kid being able to create a shot off the bounce? Yeah, I wouldn’t mind to have that on my squad. If he does end up in the caring hands of Tom Crean, I can guarantee you that you won’t see Kennedy Meeks jacking up threes, but having a big guy that can shoot the mid-range jumper is deadly for defenses. Hopefully Crean can stress that to Mr. Zeller more this coming year. If a big guy can shoot, coaches must utilize that skill as much as they can. It can confuse the opponent beyond belief. If he hits a couple jumpers from the free throw line, his defender will have to take that away and play tight on him so he can’t catch in a shooter’s position. However, this would give him the option to go back down low and post up. The adjustments that would have to be made by the defense would just play as an advantage for the Hoosiers.
Now, there is no doubt that Kennedy Meeks is one of the best players in the nation, but one of the things that would have to change when he enters college is his ability to run the court. He is a big boy that has strength to beat anyone in the paint. However, if he can’t get back on defense off of an opponent basket or run in transition for a fast break, his playing time would be limited. But that isn’t necessarily the automatic case. The jump from high school to college is huge and strength training and conditioning will be in full force. If Meeks sheds a couple pounds and replaces it with muscle, he will be a force to reckon with.
Coach Crean, good luck on your continuous recruiting. Kennedy Meeks may be the answer to the missing piece of this second coming of Hoosier glory.