Jodie Meeks: The "X" Factor

For the diehard Kentucky basketball fan, it's hard to imagine Jodie Meeks being overlooked. But that's just what much of the college basketball world is doing, and Meeks wants to show that world the difference in a healthy Meeks and one that played through injuries last season. Can he be the "X" Factor for the Cats? He thinks so.

"The whole year was frustrating, because I've never been hurt, Meeks said. "It was frustrating because I didn't know what I had. It was kind of like a lost year."

Meeks played in only eleven games last season, averaging nine points per game. Should expectations be that for Meeks this season, or should fans expect a return to the end of his freshman year when he had more double digit games than any other player on the team down the stretch, even including the NBA Atlanta Hawk's Randolph Morris? Where is Meeks now in comparison?

"I'm definitely right there (with the end of his freshman year/beginning of last season. You know at the beginning of last year I had 30-something points in the exhibition game, and that was the only game all year I was 100%. After that the injury bug hit me."

Meeks clearly is confident in his rehabilitation and is anxious to show what he can do.

"I'm definitely looking forward to having a strong season and showing people that kinda forgot about me," Meeks explained. "I'm still a good player and I want to have an impact on the season."

With two of UK's three leading scorers graduated, the size of that impact may be critical to the Wildcat's chances of success this season. Meeks is undaunted by that thought.

"I come to practice every day with a chip on my shoulder wanting to outwork everybody I play and getting extra shots and doing extra work." Meeks continued, "This year I will work just as hard, if not harder."

The preseason coaches poll has been released, and Kentucky is nowhere to be found in the Top 25, not yet a blip on the radar screen. Meeks himself may fit that same profile after the injury-plagued season. Can he sneak under the radar? Will he be the X-Factor?

"(Am I) the X Factor?" Meeks considered. "Maybe a little bit. Winning is the important thing. If we don't win, nobody gets credit for anything."

Spoken like a mature leader ready to handle the challenges of the season.

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