Tiemeyer to Walk-on at CMU

Center John Tiemeyer of Holland (Mich.) West Ottawa High School had a scholarship offer from a Division II school, but he said his heart is set on playing Division I basketball for Central Michigan University head coach Jay Smith and the Chippewas.

John Tiemeyer is not exactly a household name in the world of college basketball recruiting, but at 6-foot-10, 220-pounds, he does stand out in a crowd.

Still, Tiemeyer showed enough promise as a post player to be offered a scholarship last fall by Division II Lake Superior State University. Tiemeyer had other plans though.

"John has a passion for CMU," West Ottawa head coach Von Washington said. "The minute he sat down and talked with coach (Jay) Smith he wanted to go to Central Michigan. John's best basketball is ahead of him, the sky's the limit."

Washington should know, he coached CMU's Gerrit Brigitha at Niles High School four years ago before taking the job at West Ottawa.

"Gerrit was much more polished, a more experienced player. He could score from inside and out," Washington said. "John can move around the paint and become a prolific scorer. If he takes the next two years and learns as fast as he has the past two, he's going to help at that level."

Tiemeyer averaged 10 points per game this season for the 16-6 Panthers, winners of the O-K Red Lakeshore Conference title, the school's first since 1970. Although he didn't begin the season as a starter, he was by the end of the year. West Ottawa's frontcourt included two Division I-A football signees, 6-6 Ryan McDonald (Illinois) and 6-5 Zach Osburn (Northern Illinois).

In his first start after McDonald got hurt, Tiemeyer helped lead the Panthers to a key 64-45 victory over Zeeland, with 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.

"It was a great season," Tiemeyer said. "You looked forward to practice. Coach Washington is such a great coach, he made me a better player."

Washington credits much of his program's success and player development to the way his practices are organized, very similar to a college program.

"The way that we practice and run our program is to prepare our kids for the next level," Washington said.

Perhaps nobody has noticed the transformation of Tiemeyer into a Division I prospect better than his all-state teammate, Leonard Houston, who signed to play basketball for Drake University.

"John's athletic ability has come a long way since last summer," Houston said. "Hard work paid off for him. I don't think a lot of college coaches realize how much he's improved since last summer."

Tiemeyer said his best attributes as a center are his post defense and rebounding. It was while attending CMU's big man camp last summer when he realized where he wanted to play his college basketball.

"I was up at CMU the week that Chris Kaman was drafted," Tiemeyer said. "The CMU coaches are outstanding. Coach Smith ran us through all the drills and does such a great job."

According to Tiemeyer, CMU plans to redshirt him so he can get bigger and stronger. Although he said there are no promises of playing time, Tiemeyer said if he develops, we'll see what happens.

Tiemeyer chose the Chippewas over preferred walk-on offers from such schools as Oakland, Canisius and Toledo. He was also heavily recruited by Division III schools Hope and Calvin, in addition to Lake Superior State.

One of 13 children, Tiemeyer was home-schooled until his sophomore year of high school. He attended Grand Haven for two years where he was a starter on the varsity last season, before transferring to West Ottawa this year.

Tiemeyer said a broken leg two years ago hampered his development. At the time, Tiemeyer was 6-9 and the doctor told him that he could grow another couple inches.

According to Tiemeyer, he plans to study Criminal Justice at CMU. He hopes to move up to campus in June to begin workouts.

Tiemeyer will join CMU recruit Drew Walker (7-1, 265) next season, providing the Chippewas with some much needed size in the post.

"John's heart was with Central Michigan," Houston said. "Jay Smith will make him an even better player in the coming years."

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