Being a top national recruit
basketball can be fun, stressful, invigorating, pressure-packed and
rewarding - all at the same time. Navigating the winding road to find the
right college is not easy. We had an opportunity to discuss the recruiting
game with a top national prospect from the state of Georgia, Jodie Meeks,
as well as his father, Orestes Meeks. In case you don't know, Jodie is
6'4", 190lb PG/SG from Norcross High School. He is from the class of 2006,
so he will be a senior this fall. He currently plays for the AAU Georgia
Hurricanes, a fairly new team sponsored by Reebok. He was formerly with
the Georgia Stars. Rivals ranked Jodie as the 9th best SG in the nation,
and the 38th best prospect overall. Justin Young, a top recruiting analyst
at Rivals.com, lists Meeks as the 6th best prospect in the state of
What about his game? Jodie has primarily played the PG spot in high school, but is very athletic and a scorer, which gives him the flexibility to play the 2-spot also. In fact, some of the recruiting services list him as a SG. He attacks the basket, plays above the rim, has a nice mid-range jump shot and is an excellent defender. He led his high school team in assists last season and carried much of the scoring load. He is a guy who likes to shoot the big baskets in the clutch, often taking over towards the end of a game.
What does Jodie think are his strengths? "I have a pretty good handle and can shoot the ball pretty well. I love to play defense. I also recognize situations pretty well." Jodie is an excellent athlete, excelling in baseball as well, but gave it up to focus on hoops fulltime.
When looking for a college, Jodie is looking for a combination of strong academics and strong athletic program. "The first thing is what type of school is it academically. I would like to play early. I really look at who they have and who they recruit. My dad has watched how a school recruits and if they over recruit. My dad also said when I visit the campus, I'll know. I am also interested in having a positive relationship with the head coach. I wouldn't go play for a school if I didn't know and feel comfortable with the head coach."
As far as academic interests, the sciences and math are strong attractions, says Jodie. "I like history. I loved math until I took Trig this year...whew! I got an A the first term and B the second, but it was tough. I also like some of the sciences. I have not decided on what I will major in."
What about the draw of a big city versus a cozy small-town atmosphere. Jodie feels he could adapt, based on his background. "I could go to either. My dad is from a big city (Chicago), and my mom is from a small town in Tenn (Petersburg). I just want to go to a place where the students are important, and basketball is fun."
When it comes to the recruiting game, things have been heating up for Jodie. When asked about the stress, it didn't seem to be an issue. "No, I still like it a lot. The rules and the coaches keep it fun. I think my high school and AAU coaches have a much tougher time than me. They get all the calls." As to how many letters he gets - "Hundreds. The ones that stand out are the personalized cards or handwritten comments."
Jodie's father has tried to help him focus on the details of recruiting, how coaches express interest and body language, subtle or otherwise. "I have tried to prepare Jodie for the recruiting process by discussing what's important to him as a person. We talk about how the different schools have different needs and perspectives on players. We also discussed that those teams/coaches that are really serious about him will take the time to get to know him as a person. We usually get invited to games by the schools that are interested. On one occasion the coach spent 5 hours showing us around the campus and talking to us about the school and why they fit him as a person. On another occasion we were invited to a basketball game and Jodie's first impression of the coach was the coach reaching over Jodie to shake the hand of another perspective player, and telling that player that he would come to his next game. Which school would you choose?"
Right now some of the schools involved with Jodie have a strong SEC and ACC flavor, including Wake Forest, Alabama, Arkansas, S.Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Maryland, FSU, Miami and VaTech. He currently has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Colorado and South Carolina. UCONN and Illinois are making sure they have kept contact as well. Jodie and his father recently visited the campus over at Florida and came away impressed. Georgia Tech is actually somewhere on that list as well. Jodie was not ready to reveal a favorite, although he does have one.
How will Jodie narrow down his list? "I am focusing on who I know, the campus, and who they are recruiting. I always try to see myself playing at the school."
As to a timetable, Jodie gave us this schedule - "I plan to sign in the first signing period in November. I will cut my choices to 4-5 schools by the end of the summer season. I can see committing in late September early October. I want to make sure, since this is a very important decision for me I will take my time."
Read the rest of the interview with Jodie Meeks at GT Sports Blog.