After a dominating win over Clemson last night, the North Carolina Tar Heels proved that they can be a strong contender in the ACC once again. They played real Tar Heels basketball for the first time since conference play began, and if I were an opposing team, I would not want to face this style of play. A main part of the Tar Heels’ success, even when they were not successful in the win category, was and still is freshman forward Kennedy Meeks. At 6-foot-9 and 290 pounds, he is a rather large threat that the team has in the frontcourt.
The Tar Heels are 6-1 this season when Meeks scores in double-digits, and the only game they lost was against Virginia in which he lead the team in scoring with 15. As a freshman, nobody expected Meeks to be much of a factor within a Tar Heels roster that already had a solidified star forward in James Michael McAdoo, but he has already received three starts alongside McAdoo this season. If head coach Roy Williams was smart, he would continue to start Meeks and allow Brice Johnson to come in off the bench in his replacement.
Last night against Clemson, Meeks received the start and scored a solid 11 points while leading the team in rebounds with eight. The only downside to Meeks’ game is the fact that at his size, he cannot really jump and get to the rim. Obviously, this is a problem for a forward, but through his use of several head fakes, he always finds a way to either draw a foul or finish a layup through contact.
The amazing part of Meeks’ success is that even though he has been receiving starts as of late, he still only gets about 16 minutes of playing time per game. This is mostly due to the fact that the Tar Heels have a ton of depth at the forward position, and McAdoo is really the only forward on the roster that plays most of the game. I did say before that Williams needs to continue to start Meeks, but he does not need to overplay him. A lot of critics say that Meeks struggles with the conditioning aspect of his game, which is true, but as we have seen, he does not need to play a tremendous amount of minutes each game to make a strong impact. This is vital to a team that has several weapons at his position, because it allows Williams to go after each opponent with a more balanced attack.
Hopefully, Meeks can continue this surge throughout the rest of the Tar Heels’ ACC schedule, because they really need him to in order to be successful. He will without a doubt become stronger and more conditioned throughout his career, and in my opinion, he will be one of the best forwards in the ACC by his junior year the latest. Even if the Tar Heels’ present is not looking so bright, at least Meeks is showing them some light in the future.