Background: Mel is from Glen Cove, NY, but attends a private boarding school in Southborough, Mass - St. Mark's School.
Over the last 5 years St. Mark's has had a ton of success, including three New England championships. During the last 3 years Mel has been a member of the varsity team.
During Mel's sophomore and junior seasons, St. Mark's won the New England championship, as a senior they lost in the finals.
During the summer, Mel plays with the New York Gauchos, one of the top AAU programs in the country. You know he is coming from two winning programs who compete in a lot of big games.
Mel is a true late bloomer. There are several reasons for that. He was 6-foot-1 as a freshmen in high school and will be 17 when he graduates.
At St. Mark's he played along a front line with Nate Lubick (Georgetown) and Erik Murphy (Florida) for his first 2 years and with 5 Division I players this year, including Lubick and Alex Murphy (2012 top 50).
For the Gauchos the bigs do not receive many touches, the guards dominate the ball.
Strengths: I think the most important thing in talking about a prospect is what will translate over to the college level. The most impressive thing about Mel is he is a big time competitor. He really gets after it,plays hard, and wants to win. He has been on successful teams during his entire high school and AAU career. He worked extremely hard to get to where he is, not a typical AAU player whose butt has been kissed since they were in 8th grade.
Mel is 6-7 with a 7-2 wingspan, which allows him to play bigger than his height. He is a big time rebounder on both ends of the floor. The best evidence is a 15 rebound performance in an upset win over the Winchedon School in Frebruary. Winchedon features 9 D1 players, 2 highly rated 6'9" guys.
Mel also runs the floor very well, obviously a priority in coach McCaffrey's system. He has above average hands. He is a terrific finisher off penetration or offensive rebounds, has a very quick second leap.
Mel has good back to the basket moves but can really excel taking bigger guys off the dribble with a terrific first step. One of his most underrated skills is his ability to get to the free throw line. He had several games this season with double digit free throw attempts and makes.
On the defensive side his best attribute will be shot blocking, good timing and long arms allow him to be a good help side shot blocker.
Weaknesses: Like most high school players, he needs to add strength, both in the upper and lower body. That is priority No. 1 in his time before he gets to Iowa City and in the preseason.
Mel also needs to become a more consistent shooter. He shot the ball well from the free throw line and has made jump shots from all areas of the floor, but he needs to be more consistent, especially in Big Ten basketball.
Overall: Iowa is getting a player whose best basketball is ahead of him. How big of a contribution he makes next season will depend on his adjustment to the college game, ability to read a scouting report and add strength, etc.
Mel comes from two top-tier programs in high school and has played and practiced against high major players for the last 4 years. He is a very hard worker, a fierce competitor, and a guy who brings energy day in day out.
From Day One, Mel will be one of the best athletes on the team and a guy who fits into the system well. He will add rebounding, shot blocking and an ability from the mid-post area to take his man off the dribble and get to the free throw line.
Some quick notes: Had some really great performances this year against high level competition, including 29 points against Tilton, 29 vs. Lawrence Academy, and 25 vs. Quality Education Academy (NC).
I think the fans will really grow to like him. He's full of energy and a good personality. Comes from a very structured high school that is difficult academically, so the adjustment to college level academics should be minimal.