With the growth of social media and the numerous recruiting experts across the country, it's very rare that a commitment will ever take us completely by surprise. When we found out that Luke Meilke from Bellarmine Prep was visiting last weekend, it seemed like a casual unofficial visit. However, this casual visit turned out to be much more, as Meilke earned a scholarship offer from Mark Few and decided to commit to Gonzaga.
Here is a little blurb on Meilke from Mason Kelley of the Seattle Times, who caught up with the newest Zag yesterday:
The 6-foot-8 forward drove with his parents to Spokane Sunday, spent Monday visiting the Gonzaga campus and left with a scholarship offer from coach Mark Few and the Bulldogs.
After taking a few days to consider the offer, Meikle said he gave a verbal commitment to Gonzaga Thursday afternoon.
"I was kind of expecting an offer from them, but I didn't know when it was going to come," Meikle said. "When they did tell me, I was excited."
The Bulldogs were the first school to offer Meikle, who helped lead the Lions to a fifth-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament. Meikle said Boise State told him the Broncos planned to offer soon but, "Gonzaga was my choice."
Meikle described himself as a "big guy who can shoot." He is more of a finesse player, but said he isn't afraid to play in the post.
The initial response on Twitter to this announcement was lukewarm at best. However, there are two factors that have me pretty intrigued about this kid. The first thing people need to realize is that Gonzaga has a ton of open scholarships over the next two years. Assuming Przemek Karnowski joins the team for next season, the Zags will only have eight guys on scholarship (potentially nine if The Hoff doesn't transfer). Even if Mike Hart and David Stockton are both given full scholarships, that would only bring the total to 10 (or 11 if Hoff stays). So by the time that Meikle gets on campus, Elias Harris, Guy Landry-Edi and Mike Hart will all be gone, which means that at most their will only be eight guys on scholarship heading into the 2013-14 season.
Knowing that there will be a lot of scholarships available, it makes sense to take a chance on a guy like Meikle that clearly has his best basketball ahead of him. Bellarmine Prep participates at the Gonzaga Team Camps every summer, so Meikle is a guy the staff has watched for a couple of years. He clearly needs to add some weight to his frame, but right now he projects to be a 4/3 that can score in the paint and also stretch the defense. Meilke is likely a redshirt candidate when he steps foot on campus, which makes sense given that Sam Dower, Kelly Olynyk and Karnowski will all be available in the paint. This commitment doesn't change the fact that Gonzaga will still pursue a combo guard that can score (Zach Lavine and Xavier Rathan-Mayes) along with a true wing.
After watching a couple of quick highlights on Meikle, the one comparison that immediately jumps to mind is Gordon Hayward. Meikle is long and a little bit awkward with the ball, but he has the size to post-up a smaller SF, while having the quickness to beat a PF off the dribble. If he can maintain the quickness while putting on some weight and filling out his body, he could be a very interesting talent. All the reports on his game say that he plays extremely hard and he comes from a school that has produced Division I talent. I will be very interested to see how Meilke plays against the AAU circuit this season, as that will provide a good test for how he matches up with some top talent.
In conclusion, Meikle is a risk worth taking in my opinion. He has a strong basketball IQ and a nice skill set, and his ceiling will really be determined by his ability to grow into his body while adding strength.