Jodie Meeks has suited up for the last time as a Kentucky Wildcat. The junior guard decided Monday he will remain in the National Basketball Association Draft and give up his final year of collegiate eligibility.
The departure comes on the final day underclassmen had to either remain in the draft or return to campus. Meeks had spent the past few weeks working out for numerous NBA franchises trying to gain as much information about his draft stock as he could. Despite most mock drafts rating him at best a late first round pick he chose to cast his lot with the NBA. Only first round selections receive a guaranteed contract. The NBA Draft is June 25th at 7 p.m.
"I want to thank the fans and the city of Lexington. They have been great and I will always be a Kentucky Wildcat," Meeks said. "I feel comfortable with my decision and I'm confident in my ability. My family and I talked over the weekend and decided this was the best decision."
Meeks had one of the greatest offensive seasons in Kentucky's storied history, most notably setting the single-game scoring record with his 54 outburst at Tennessee. He also set the school record for most three-pointers made in a season (112), ranked second behind Dan Issel for most points scored in a season (854) and had the third highest single-season scoring average (23.7). He currently ranks 33rd on UK's all-time career scoring list with 1,246 points.
The scoring displays came fast and furious for Meeks, as he posted seven games of 31 points or more, including three of at least 45. In addition, he broke 20 points in 22 of UK's 36 games and was named First Team All-SEC by the league's coaches.
The athletic shooting guard caught Calipari's eye during workouts this spring, proving there was more to his game than being a jump shooter.
"Jodie is so much more of an athlete than I knew because basically what you've seen Jodie doing is catching and shooting," Calipari said. "I see him go to the rim and I'm like, 'You just dunked that ball, smashed it, where is that?'"
Calipari insisted all along he would support whatever decision Meeks made concerning his future but felt like a year in the Dribble Drive Motion offense would enhance his preparedness for the NBA.
"His mentality right now is catch and shoot, we just have to change it a little," Calipari said. "He gets to the foul line already and I don't know how he does it because he shoots jumpers but I think he'll get to the foul line even more.
"It'll open his game more because a lot of his shots last year he made with people hanging on him but if they know he can go by them they'll be even more space for him to get shots. I think he'll be more efficient."
Those improvements will have to come at the professional level.
Matt May is the basketball beat reporter for The Cats' Pause. If you have questions or comments about the Cats e-mail him here.