Three Ways Kennedy Meeks Can Improve


Kennedy Meeks is the real deal. The 6’9”, 270 pound sophomore forward shed 55 pounds during his freshman summer and cemented his commitment to be one of the premier players on UNC’s roster. It’s showing. The Charlotte native is putting up 12.8 points to go with 9.1 rebounds a game.

Let’s take a closer look at this monster in the middle who nearly averages a double-double—as a sophomore—and what he needs to focus on going forward.

Focus #1: Shoot More
Kennedy shot .500 or better from the field in 11 out of 14 games. The big man scores at least every other time he shoots in 79% of games played. Even then, the numbers are skewed. Meeks isn’t launching up three pointers or half-court bombs. The 6’9’’ forward is putting up attempts from inside the paint—which means he’s always in position to get his own rebound which puts UNC is favorable positions. Even if he doesn’t snag his own rebound, he at least makes it difficult for a defender to throw a quick outlet pass leading to a fast break.

On top of Meek’s remarkable converting-every-other-basket-79%-of-the-time statistic, is that a lot of his attempts are low-conversion tip-backs. He’s battling not only the tallest and most physical bodies on the court every play, but it’s where everyone converges. When a guard takes an outside shot for instance, he may be further away but he’s encountering a single defender. Meeks has to battle nearly every person on the court for a single tip or rebounded put-back.

Upon further examination, his remarkable numbers don’t diminish. They shine even brighter. The big man gets buckets.

Focus #2 For Meeks: More Playing Time
There have been four games this season where Kennedy Meeks played 27 minutes or more. He had a double-double in three of said games. He missed the fourth game’s double-double by a single basket.

Why is he not playing more?

UNC fans should be scratching heads so hard toupees fall out. This makes absolutely no sense. Roy Williams needs to keep Kennedy on the hardwood. Now would I bet my mortgage on him finishing an Ironman? No, he’s built for power—not speed. Let’s play to his strengths.

You have a 6’9”, 270 pound sophomore who gives a 3.75 double-double performance in a 4 game span of him actually having decent minutes. Then you pull back the reins? That’s ridiculous. The big man has big shoulders. Give him big minutes.

Focus #3 For Meeks: More Grizzly, Less Teddy
A common misconception people hold is that to be a good person, you must always be nice. This isn’t always true. Sometimes, people feign niceness just to look out for themselves. They have no intention of being a good person. They’re faking it. In these cases, niceness actually opposes goodness. It doesn’t equate it. And if you disagree, I invite you to thumb through a few of the great’s biographies.

In Kennedy Meeks case however, he seems like a genuinely nice guy. Nice is great…for Thanksgiving. Nice is great…for Christmas Cards. Nice is not great for intimidation. Basketball is a mental game. Sure, it’s angles. Sure, it’s team chemistry. Sure, it’s X’s and O’s.

More than all that though, basketball is psychology. If you can get inside the other team’s head, you win. They’ll beat themselves. To do so, it’s imperative to use whatever tools at your disposal to give you that mental edge.
To be blunt, Kennedy Meeks needs to be nastier.

Listen, his bread and butter is on the low block around the biggest bodies on the court. It’s a junkyard down there. The biggest dogs get respect but the loudest ones demand attention. If the attention is on a single player, it’s not on team defense.

Asserting dominance is more important in the paint than anywhere else on the court.

Now, Meeks can do this all respectfully and in the confines of a clean game. Let the audience remind the defender who owns the lower block. When Kennedy blocks a shot, yell to the crowd. When Kennedy delivers a monstrous dunk, pump your fists as you walk back. It’s not showboating—Roy shakes his all the time. It’s inspiring and impassioned when he does it.

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And for those people who say being demonstrative like that just isn’t his personality, I counter with this: Meeks has only scored 20 or more one time this season. He did that against Robert Morris. They were un-ranked. A man Kennedy Meek’s size, with his shooting ability, should be dropping at least that many game in and game out.

Meeks can make it his mission to be nice to reporters, family, and even the other team before and after the game. He should, however, make it his mission to punish his defender from buzzer to buzzer. He can do so as a good sport and with a smile on his face but he needs to make the mental switch happen.

The sooner he gets the killer instinct, the sooner he puts up 20 a night.