Our tour of D-League franchises in limbo continues with a visit to the Albuquerque T-Birds and Antonio Meeking. Now that I've been told to provide more basic data on these players, I'll tell you that Meeking is listed as 6'7", 270 pounds, is 28 years old, is from Monroe, Louisiana, and enjoys the music of Claude Debussy and the writing of George Eliot (that last bit may not be true). He's also been around the D-League for awhile, so I'll try to find something new to say about him.
How he got here
A power forward, Meeking played his college ball at Louisiana Tech where he put up okay numbers, including 18 points and seven rebounds his senior season. He finished as the eleventh all-time leading scorer in Louisiana Tech history, as well as the school's tenth all-time leading rebounder and fifth all-time leading shot blocker. Undrafted, Meeking joined the USBL, the "League of Opportunity," where he was drafted by the Dodge City Legend. Other former Legend players include D-Leaguers Renaldo Major, David Bell and Joe Dabbert. Meeking soon got out of Dodge (sorry), joining the Milwaukee Bucks' training camp for the 2003-2004 season. He didn't make the roster, though, and joined the D-League's Asheville Altitude (if they don't sound familiar, it's because they're now the Tulsa 66ers). He played 46 games for Asheville, averaging 11 points and about five and a half rebounds. In April 2004, Meeking went back to the USBL, this time with the Pennsylvania ValleyDogs, who no longer exist, but who were once coached by Darryl Dawkins. All of this is pretty boring, so here's video of Dawkins doing what he do.
For the next five years Meeking would travel back and forth between Europe and the D-League, which we'll explore after the jump.
Antonio Meeking spent the beginning of the 2004-2005 season in Asheville, where he scored only 50 fewer points than he had in twice as many games the previous year, while posting a field goal percentage that was 50 points higher. Eventually that year he moved to Europe to play for the Adriatic League's Hemofarm Vrsac. He came off the bench there and posted the best field goal percentages of his career, and was signed by the Charlotte Bobcats for the 2005-2006 preseason. His relatively-poor-shooting ways returned, though, and he was let go before the season began.
Okay, need to fast-forward. Meeking spent the next year or so playing around Europe, first in Frankfurt then in Israel. He joined the Sioux Falls Skyforce for ten games in 2006-2007, including their two playoff games. Somewhere along the way he decided to start shooting more threes, and he shot six in those ten games, making only one. His overall field goal and free throw percentages were pretty atrocious as well (40.2 and 40.7 percent, respectively), though in those two playoff games he had a combined 37 points on 28 shots and 19 rebounds.
Meeking wandered around a little more until the 2008-2009 D-League season, where he was Reno's first round pick. Here at RU, DakotaWiz (whoever that is) wasn't impressed. Meeking actually had a decent start to the season, though, scoring at least 20 points in the first six games, including two double-doubles and another one where he grabbed nine rebounds. Meeking provided Reno with a consistent inside presence, save for the occasional 5-for-20 game, and was named an All-Star, but he was traded to Albuquerque for David Noel at the beginning of March.
It's possible the Bighorns knew something Albuquerque didn't, as the slight drop-off in production Meeking experienced towards the end of January continued. He still managed to score in double figures most of the time, but now we're talking 11 or 13 points instead of 19 or 23. The low point of his season likely came on March 15th against Tulsa, when he missed all seven of his shots and finished with zero points in 39 minutes. One problem in Albuquerque might've been that he frequently played alongside Jasper Johnson in the frontcourt, who's in a lot of ways the same player (mostly physically). Meeking also went down with an injury towards the end of the season, though he returned for the Thunderbirds' last two games.
The odds look long for Antonio Meeking. Even more than Derrick Byars or Trey Johnson, Meeking is what he is as a player, which unfortunately for him is not really outstanding at anything. He's an okay inside scorer, I suppose, though it would be nice if he had a better field goal percentage (which has dropped almost precipitously since '04-'05) We're all about upside here at RU, but unless the New Orleans Hornets decide to co-opt the Bobcats model of franchise development (get a bunch of guys who played high school or college ball in the state), which wouldn't be the worst idea in the world if done properly, we may see Meeking in the D-League again next year.