Partially because of how closely I’ve been following the John Wall recruitment, partially because of Patrick Patterson’s announcement that he would return to UK, and partially because I just assumed Jodie Meeks would withdraw from the 2009 NBA Draft, I have been ignoring the fact that Jodie is still weighing his options. The fact of the matter is that Jodie Meeks has a decision to make and he is going to gather every bit of information he can before he makes it.
Meeks has been widely assumed to be returning for next year because most mock drafts list him as a second round pick with no guaranteed contract, at best, and possibly undrafted. However, Jodie Meeks is the kind of player who figures to impress in workouts. He is in phenomenal shape and is a tremendous athlete. The cliche is that you only need one team to like you, so who knows, a good workout with the right team could sneak him into the first round.
Jodie, along with Dar Tucker, Danny Green, Antonio Anderson, Marcus Landry, and Leo Lyons worked out with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday and that figures to be the first of many for Meeks. The Thunder have a lottery pick then the 25th pick in the Draft, so they clearly are looking at guys who fit the late first round bill. I haven’t heard anything about how the workout went, but Oklahoma City could be that one team.
I don’t know of any other team workouts that are definitively scheduled, but what we do know is that Jodie Meeks will be one of 52 players (along with Louisville’s Terrence Williams and Earl Clark) to take part in the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago May 28-29.
We know Jodie will not make a decision until after the Combine and Jerry Tipton is reporting that Meeks will have a “busy workout schedule that figures to run well past the NBA’s Chicago Combine.” The deadline to withdraw from the Draft is June 15, so we will know by then whether Jodie Meeks will come back for his senior season…maybe we’ll even know where John Wall is going by then! (UPDATE: NOW WE DO KNOW!! JOHN WALL IS A WILDCAT!!)
I’ve also read speculation on the part of Larry Vaught of the Kentucky Sports Report that says that Jodie Meeks is looking for a reason to stay in the Draft, even if he is not projected in the first round and is guaranteed a contract by a team in the second round. Jodie, like all players at this level, has people around him who are giving him biased information, giving him an inflated idea of his own status. I’m sure this kind of thing may affect Jodie’s mentality in the short term, but he’s got good enough people around him to make a sound decision, including his family and John Calipari.
Coach Calipari said in his press conference that Jodie should stay in the Draft if he’s a first rounder, but return to work on his game if he’s not. Calipari has very good pro contacts and knowledge of the next level. I expect Jodie to use Calipari as the resource that he can be. Calipari, just as he did with Patterson, will help supply Jodie with the best information possible, but will not try to convince Meeks to return to UK if it’s not in his best interests.
Here’s my evaluation of the situation. Barring an unreal set of workouts, I do not see Jodie Meeks being projected in the first round. If he’s not projected in the first round, Jodie has to understand what he has to gain in returning to school. Jodie will play on a much improved team and will no longer have to play with the burden of a coach who did not want to see him succeed at the level he was capable of, whatever the reason was. He may not put up the same raw scoring numbers as he did this past season, but his efficiency figures to get much better as a part of a very talented cast.
Also, the areas of his game that require the most improvement are his ball handling in the half court and his passing. This offseason and season under Calipari, Jodie Meeks will be forced to improve both of those areas in the dribble drive motion, and he already has demonstrated progression in only a few practices.
Additionally, a hallmark of the dribble drive motion is floor spacing; this will benefit Jodie in two ways. First of all, there will be much more room to get shots off, in both the half court and on the break. Teams will be punished if they elect to face guard Meeks instead of no adjustments being made and the offense stagnating as was the case under Billy Gillispie. With good floor spacing and good talent, Jodie figures to have plenty of room to shoot.
Second, better floor spacing will allow Meeks to better use his dynamite first step. Jodie often had no trouble getting by his on ball defender, but the second help defense would jump in, Jodie often was stripped and turned the ball over. Better floor spacing and better peripheral talent will make it much more difficult and costly to help off of Meeks penetration, making it less likely for him be stripped and allowing him to get closer to the basket more often. The floor spacing will also open up passing lanes for when Jodie does penetrate.
I think that Jodie has a lot to gain by returning to Lexington next year and unless he is projected in the first round, I do not think Jodie will pass up the opportunity to earn his degree, play on a winning team, and improve his game.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Tuesday Bolts - Day of Reckoning Edition | Daily Thunder.com - Where Thunder Happens | May 19, 2009
- Andy Katz anticipates Jodie Meeks will return to UK | May 19, 2009
- Jodie Meeks update | May 21, 2009