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Long-ago promise leads to Jacob Meachem's Bucknell commitment

06/20/2024, 3:00pm EDT
By Rich Flanagan

Rich Flanagan (@richflanagan33)

Jacob Meachem is one of the few collegiate prospects who can say his decision was predetermined.

While he didn’t know where he would ultimately play, the person who would lead him in the next maturation of his game has known him since he first began to hone his craft on the basketball court. His father, Marlin, has been a referee since 2007, running down the sideline for PIAA, JUCO, D-III and D-II games in his time. Marlin would sometimes ref games at Competitive Edge Sports in King of Prussia and Jacob would accompany him. 

Jacob Meachem (above) committed to Bucknell earlier this month. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

As Marlin kept order in the men’s league games, Jacob would find time during breaks in the action to shoot around and even play one on one with some of the older guys, including one man who will be his coach at the next level.

“When John Griffin III was younger, he would play over at Competitive Edge in King of Prussia and this story all comes full circle,” Meachem said. “He would always tell my dad, ‘When I become a coach, he’s the first player I’m recruiting.’”

Griffin is coming off his first season as head coach at the Lewisburg school and brings in the 5-foot-9 Hill School rising senior to lead the 2025 Bison class, Meachem announcing his commitment earlier this weekend.

Meachem first came into Bucknell’s orbit during the 2023 Mid-Atlantic Independent School Team Camp at Blair Academy (N.J.). He caught the eye of John’s brother and current Bison assistant coach Matt Griffin, the former Roman Catholic head coach who has also spent time as an assistant at Florida Gulf Coast.

Matt “has always been checking in. That’s my guy. He texts me everyday and calls me. He’s always checking in and making sure I’m doing well,” according to Meachem. Bucknell officially offered Meachem on June 19, 2023, and remained in close contact with him throughout the year.

Griffin kept his promise to recruit Meachem and he will bring the talented floor general in as his first commitment of 2025.

“It’s truly a blessing and something no one could’ve ever imagined,” Meachem said. “It was about having that connection and always having that trust with John. I believe in Coach John, and he believed in such a young kid. He saw me as someone who he would want and now a point guard he would want to lead and direct his team. He built a connection with me throughout these years.”

With schools like Drexel, Dartmouth, Northern Illinois, Loyola (Md.) and Delaware State also interested, Meachem did his due diligence with each but those schools “didn’t love me as much as Matt and John.” A focal reason for committing before both the live period and his senior season was “to get it off my chest and the heavy weight out of the way.”

The Pottstown native has played his entire career at Hill School and is coming off a year where he averaged 14 ppg, 4 rpg and 5.2 apg while shooting 43% from the field. He was named a unanimous 2023-24 Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) All-League selection after playing on a loaded Hill School roster which includes high-major prospect Ethan Johnston. Under the direction of head coach Seth Eilberg, Meachem was team captain as a junior, using a quick first step and spectacular vision to get into the lane and find open teammates with ease.

His best attribute to his current and future team may be his ability to get into the paint and force the defense to react to his penetration toward the rim.

“I’m always thinking ahead to the next play,” Meachem said. “One thing I love to do whether in transition or the half court is beat my defender down the floor. If I’m in the half-court set, there’s no reason for me to take four or five dribbles; it’s always one dribble and go.”

He can score and has shown an ability to hit from the outside (18 three-pointers this season), but Meachem thrives at putting others in the best position for success. He has done this routinely at Hill as well as on the AAU circuit with K-Low Elite setting up a deep corps that includes KJ Cochran (Perkiomen School), Devin Booker (Cristo Rey), Kai Shinholster (Penn Charter), and Keni Williams (SCH Academy).

This is where Bucknell sees his game transitioning to the next level as he sees things unfold before they happen.

“One big reason I really liked Bucknell is because they would put me in situations they would have in their offense or things they would want me to run,” Meachem said. “They would tell me, ‘When you come off the screen and roll, look to shoot the three.’”

“Coach Matt always points out a play I had last year during the live period. Trey O’Neil, now at Elon, hit five threes in the game and I’m bringing the ball down the court. Our big man is coming to set a screen and I redirect him to set a down screen for Trey. Trey comes off the screen and knocks it down. Coach Matt tells me this story every time he sees me and that’s when he knew right there that I’m a true point guard and someone he wants on his team.”

Griffin and the Bison finished 14-19 overall and 10-8 in the Patriot League in his inaugural season at the helm. Bucknell finished second in the standings in the regular season and fell to league champion Colgate in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals. 

From the serendipitous relationship with Griffin to the closeness of the Pa. campus, Meachem will get the opportunity to shine in the way he and his new head coach always envisioned. Even more rewarding will be learning from the person who always believed in him and the one Meachem feels gives him the best opportunity to blossom at the next level.

“I always wanted to stay local, just like going to Hill School,” Meachem said. “I could’ve perhaps gone somewhere else like in the Catholic League in Philly, but I wanted to stay local as I have that trust and loyalty to where I’m from. 

“Hill School was always my first choice and having a school like Bucknell right here in Pennsylvania, that was a huge surprise that helped me seal that decision. After this year at Hill, going onto Bucknell should be a great experience.”

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