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Meeks vaults into Player of the Year discussion

Jodie Meeks

Jodie Meeks

Jan. 14, 2009

So now that everybody has had a little time to take in Jodie Meeks' record-breaking performance Tuesday night, it's time to take a look at where Meeks stands compared to the rest of the nation's best players.

About midway through Tuesday's game, Jimmy Dykes suggested that Meeks' name be thrown into the mix for National Player of the Year. Quite a lofty assertion by a guy who knows what he's talking about, but when you look at the numbers and consider what he's done so far this season, the idea is far from far-fetched.

After pounding Rocky Top on Tuesday, Meeks is averaging a Southeastern Conference-best 25. 9 points per game, which is fourth-best in the nation. He's shooting the ball at nearly a 48 percent clip, including 44 percent from behind the arc, and he's missed just 10 of his 116 free throws this season. Throw in 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals a game and it becomes a pretty good case for the Player of the Year so far.

Not sold yet? Take a look at where Meeks stands compared to the nation's elite players:

  • Stephen Curry (junior guard at Davidson) - 28.5 ppg, 6.7 apg, 4.1 rpg, 3.1 spg, 45.4 FG pct., 36.1 3-point pct.
  • Blake Griffin (sophomore forward at Oklahoma) - 22.4 ppg, 13.8 rbg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 bpg, 64.5 FG pct.
  • Tyler Hansbrough (senior center/forward at North Carolina) - 22.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 53.5 FG pct., 84.6 FT pct.
  • Luke Harangody (junior forward at Notre Dame) - 24.8 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 49.8 FG pct., 81.0 FT pct.

So where does he stand among these players? Is he the best? Right in the middle? Does he even merit consideration in the top five? Let me know what you think by e-mailing me at catscratches@email.uky.edu .

One thing to consider is that the National Player of the Year is NOT the most valuable player. It doesn't take into account who means more to their team or how a team would fair without that player. Otherwise, you would have a tough time arguing against Davidson's Stephen Curry.


 

 

Still, Meeks has been nearly as valuable. He's put his team on his back at times and has carried UK back from an early season loss to VMI to a 13-4 record. Dykes even said last night that he believes UK will enter the top 25 when the new polls are released early next week.

And if that still doesn't do it for you, consider this: Meeks is averaging the most points per game at UK since Dan Issel, the program's all-time scoring leader, averaged 33.9 points per game during the 1969-70 season.

I thought it was interesting last night when Pat Summitt, college basketball's all-time wins leader, came on the air and talked about Meeks being a "no-touch" guy. What she meant was he's the type of player you can't let even touch the ball because he has the ability to create his own shot at will. She talked about having to face guard a guy like Meeks and structuring the defense to prevent him from getting the ball.

What other player on that list would you have to do that for? Curry definitely gets the nod, but I'm not sure about the others, partly due to their position. You can't face guard Hansbrough because of the supporting cast he has around him. Double-team him and you take the risk of leaving a guy like Wayne Ellington or Ty Lawson open.

But what happens when teams do face guard Meeks? Then you leave the door open for Patrick Patterson to take over a game. Keep in mind the duo is averaging 44.3 points per game, the most since Issel (33.9) and Mike Pratt combined for 53.2 points per game in the 1969-70 season.

Whatever you think, it's clear last night was special. Whether it'll be enough to vault Meeks into the discussion for player of the year remains to be seen.

UPDATE: Change of plans again. ESPNU has gone back to its original broadcast time of 4:30 p.m. ET. ESPN Classic's broadcast of the game is still set for 6:30 p.m. ET. We'll let you know if there are anymore changes.

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