Nevada freshman forward Zane Meeks is flashing his sky-high potential.
Whether it’s battling for rebounds in the paint or pulling up from 3-point range with ease, Meeks has showcased his wide array of skills this season. It points to his bright future as he develops into an impactful piece for the Wolf Pack.
“Zane is really putting together an impressive stretch,” head coach Steve Alford said earlier this season. “He’s really been finding his shot and giving his all on the other end. He’s worked hard and it’s starting to show. The sky’s the limit for him and a bunch of our young guys.”
Meeks was one of Alford’s first recruits as head coach of Nevada. The 6-foot-9 forward from Prairie Village, Kansas, is averaging 7.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 17.4 minutes off the bench this season. He stretches the floor with a smooth release and strings together 3-pointers in bunches.
His prominence from 3-point territory is a key component to Nevada’s perimeter attack. The Wolf Pack rank first in the Mountain West Conference with 157 made 3-pointers and second with a .387 team 3-point shooting percentage.
Meeks can catch fire from long range, but he focuses on the fundamentals to get into rhythm when he enters the game.
“I just try to do the little things and build off of that,” he said earlier this season. “It may just pulling in a rebound and that’s where I’m really trying to work on. I want my first shot to be nothing crazy, just set my feet and let it go. From there, I just get into the flow and it’s been working out.”
Despite his early success with the Wolf Pack, Meeks is finding ways to improve his game on the court. He and coach Alford breakdown film highlighting his strengths and weaknesses.
“It’s nice to be able to study the film and get another opportunity the next game,” Meeks said. “Coach (Alford) sits down with me and shows the things I’ve done well and what I’m messing up on and need to correct. It was a good learning adjustment for me.”
Nevada’s coaching staff isn’t the only group impressed by Meeks’ ability on the floor. Junior guard Jalen Harris has taken note of the work ethic set by Meeks and the Wolf Pack’s young core.
“We have a lot of guys who could start and he’s one of them,” Harris said earlier this season. “It doesn’t surprise me to see what Zane or other guys do what they do every game. I see it every practice. … We hold them to the same standards of the starters.”
Basketball runs in the Meeks family. Zane’s father, Rowdy Meeks, helped Hutchinson Junior College win a junior college national championship. He also played two seasons at Cornell University located in Ithaca, New York. Zane’s mother, Tamara Putnam, played basketball at the University of Missouri in St. Louis.
Zane Meeks has established his own basketball background. He spent his senior season at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Brewster went 34-7 and won the National Prep Championship that season with Meeks earning first-team All-Lakes Region.
“Playing there was a great learning experience for me,” he said. “It helped me grow a lot into the player I want to be and I was tested by some great competition.”
Meeks played three seasons at Shawnee Mission High School in Prairie Village, Kan. He lettered in basketball and football three times and took home first-team All-Sunflower League Honors at SMHS.
When the time came to make a decision for college, Meeks chose Nevada over several prominent destinations including Washington State. Since then, he’s become an impactful player bursting with potential for a young Nevada squad.
“It’s a great group we have and we just need to continue to improve,” he said earlier this season. “We’re playing good ball right now but we can always work on things, especially for me personally.”
— Isaiah Burrows