Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
There are 540 students at the Hill School represented by 27 different states and 25 different countries.
The Blues basketball team has had players from different parts of the country and the world come through over the years.
However, sometimes there are gems right in their backyard.
Sophomore guard Jacob Meachem has been around the Hill School since elementary school.
The Pottstown-area native grew up going to Blues’ basketball camps hoping one day he’d have the opportunity to take the court at Gilson Gymnasium.
“I always knew about the high school,” Hill School’s sophomore guard said. “That was my No. 1 school I wanted to go to. I always went to the basketball camps when I was younger. I always had a connection with Coach Eilberg so it was just my No. 1 choice.”
Hill School sophomore Jacob Meachem is stepping into the starting point guard role this season. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)
Meachem was back on the court at Hill last season — this time playing for the Blues. He played JV and came off the varsity bench as a freshman in 2021-22 behind guards like Anthony Wise as Hill went to the MAPL championship and PAISAA semifinals.
Now, the 5-foot-7 sophomore guard is the team’s starting point guard. It’s a role he put a lot of work into preparing for.
“Jacob’s the quintessential gym rat,” Hill School coach Seth Eilberg said. “He’s been around the game his whole life and he loves to be in the gym. He’s worked really hard on his game. I think he’s improved his shooting and range. He’s gotten a lot stronger. He’s really committed to the weight room. He got a few spot minutes throughout last year, sparked us at times. He had to get most of his minutes on the JV and now he’s stepping into a lead guard role with us.”
“He’s always going to be playing against a bigger, older, stronger guy and one of the things we’ve challenged him with is taking a leadership role of having to run our offense. It’s not only on him, but I think he’s got to take a leadership role there and … as he continues to make better and better basketball decisions all the time, I think that will help us be the best team we can be.”
Meachem and the Blues opened their season with a 2-1 showing at the Phelps School Invitational this past weekend. Hill began with a 76-60 win over Redemption Christian Academy (N.Y.), lost 98-87 in the semifinals to host Phelps and bounced back Sunday with a 76-70 win over Springfield Commonwealth Academy (Mass.).
The biggest offensive outing for Meachem came in the semifinal loss to the Lions when he scored 14 points and tallied six assists.
“He’s grown a lot,” Hill 2024 guard Trey O’Neil said. “His defense has always been good, he’s getting a lot better. He’s stronger now, gets to the bucket a lot more, scoring a lot more buckets, controlling the pace and everything. He improved a lot. He’s gonna be really good this year.”
Meachem knows the importance of his new lead-guard duties. He said he learned a lot watching Wise last season.
Even when he’s not the focal point of the scoring effort, Meachem will have the ball in his hands and have the responsibility of making sure players like O’Neil and 2023s Augie Gerhart (Penn), Justin Molen and Josh Cameron are put in good positions to score.
“The starting point guard role is just being a leader, taking control of the team, making sure my teammates know what spot they’re in, calling out the plays, setting it up, and just running the show,” Meachem said. “Making sure we bring the intensity and energy every game to come out with the win.”
“I feel like I can get my shot easily whenever I want. I feel as if I get my teammates involved first then that will start to get me in the groove of things and I can get my shots whenever I want. I’m looking to assist first.”
Meachem went to the Wyndcroft School in Pottstown before attending Hill. As a 5-foot-7 guard, the jump to the prep school level from the middle school level was a big one, particularly on the defensive end where he had to guard bigger and stronger players.
He can’t do anything about the height differential, but Meachem ensured he came into this season with more strength to compete.
Meachem is also not a player who will back down from a challenge. Before the season started, Eilberg gave Meachem the green light to defend his man 94 feet and he intends to do that often.
“If I'm a small guard, I have to have a lot of grit and energy to play defense,” Meachem said.
“Defensively, that’s my favorite role on the court,” he added. “I love getting in the guard’s chest, pressuring the ball and making them lose control of it because once I do that that brings more energy to my team, more energy for the offense and we’re just ready to go.”
Meachem is in the same class as 6-foot-10 forward Quadri Bashiru, who is originally from Nigeria. Having the local kid and the kid from the other side of the world on the same hoops team is part of what makes Hill special, according to Eilberg.
“It’s really neat,” Eilberg said. “We’re really excited that Meach is going to have his high school career at Hill,” Eilberg said, “and I think it will be fun to see how he continues to develop because I think he’s doing some really great things already this year and his basketball is still ahead of him though.”