Kennedy Meeks-Junior, C, 6-10 260 lbs
2014-2015 Stats: 11.4 PPG 56.2% FG 64.1% FT 7.3 REB 1.1 AST 0.7 STL 1.2 BLK 1.6 TO 23.3 MPG 24.9 PER 4.6 WS
What Happened Last Year:
Kennedy Meeks lost a lot of weight after his freshman year and played like a college basketball veteran last season. Meeks upped his scoring by about four points per game and produced an excellent output in only 23.3 minutes per game--fewer minutes than you would expect from a starting center. Meeks showed promising development as he increased his field goal percentage as well as his raw numbers in more minutes per game. He also displayed an improved jump shot last season and has continued to expand his range over the summer. A couple advanced stats don't do Meeks any favors as his rebounding rate decreased to 17.2% from 20.2% and his turnover rate marginally increased in a year where you would hope that each of those metrics improve. Meeks was a solid offensive center last season but was not always fast enough to play good defense against Carolina's opponents despite slimming down and becoming more explosive. Meeks did increase his free throw percentage by 6%, if he can duplicate that feat then Carolina could really roll on offense this season.
Meeks stands to benefit the most from the Heels' emphasis on conditioning in the offseason. Meeks has lost even more weight and should be able to play far more than the 23.3 minutes per game he had last year. He will need to improve on defense as well after being eaten up by talented front court players whenever they played the Heels last year. Carolina's offense could rely on Meeks at points this season in tight games if Johnson gets in foul trouble. An improvement from the free throw line as well as a further increase in rebounds would be the first places to start when looking for Meeks' development.
A bonus would be to see if Meeks can stretch his range to the arc this season. Meeks has slowly moved away from the basket as he has spent more time in the program, expanding his range as he developed. If he can pull opposing centers away from the basket, that opens up a host of options for the wing players and guards as cutters as well as allows Brice Johnson to have more room to operate on post-ups. If Meeks can shoot from three routinely, this Carolina team could begin to approach the 2009 team.