College Basketball

Kennedy Meeks Responds to Criticism from Media Members

Feb 17, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Kennedy Meeks (3) before the game at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2016

North Carolina forward Kennedy Meeks took to Twitter on Tuesday to respond to media members who believe he should be replaced by Isaiah Hicks in the starting lineup (sic): 

Let me tell you guys one thing!!! Whoever starts for our team it doesn't matter!!! Whoever plats more doesn't matter!!! Who ever scores the most that day doesn't matter!!! We are a team!! We are brothers !!! Have I been playing great? No! Have I still been there for my team? Yes!

Meeks has scored in double figures only twice in his last 12 games. He's seen a marked decrease in production since returning from a midseason knee injury and has seen a recent decrease in playing time. The junior played a season-low 13 minutes in Monday's 75-70 win over Syracuse. 

"For the record if my brother Isaiah starts I will cheer him on like he does for me!!! Every single day of the week!" Meeks tweeted.

Hicks received 22 minutes against the Orange, putting in 10 points and six rebounds. Neither player started, though that was a symbolic gesture from the Tar Heels on senior night. Hicks briefly replaced Meeks in the starting lineup for games against Duke and Miami, though the playing time did not change much. 

A number analysts, including ESPN's Jay Williams, have publicly called for the change to be permanent:

From a pure numbers standpoint, this doesn't seem like all that big of a deal. Meeks is averaging 9.9 points and 5.9 rebounds across 21.3 minutes per game. Hicks is averaging 9.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 18.3 minutes. Neither is a especially dominant defender, so it would stand to reason that head coach Roy Williams situationally rides the hot hand.

"We have 1 head coach and 4 assistants that know what it takes to win. Trust me your suggestions mean nothing at all!!" Meeks tweeted.

The biggest factor in favor of Hicks is his efficiency, but there's not even all that much of a difference. Hicks is shooting 61.6 percent. Meeks is shooting 57.3 percent. Meeks isn't playing his best basketball at the moment, but there have been stretches this season where he's been significantly better than Hicks.

These are two players of generally similar skill levels. The decision whether to start Meeks or Hicks is certainly not going to be the difference between a national championship or an early March exit.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.

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