116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — No promises.
Coach Justin Northrop has set up a play for him in a game and will likely do so again at some point the rest of the season.
His teammates want him to do it. Virtually everyone wants him to do it because it’d be such a novelty.
But Ben DeMeulenaere won’t throw out any guarantees that he’ll float to the 3-point arc and let a shot go, because that’s foreign territory. He hasn’t done it yet in his four-year varsity career at Belle Plaine, so why change that now?
“I know that’s something that Coach Northrop would definitely love to see,” he said. “But I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to find out.”
The 6-foot-3 senior surpassed 1,000 career points last week in a game against Montezuma. Let’s think about this for a moment.
Kid has over 1,000 career points, hasn’t taken a 3-pointer in his career. Hasn’t even tried one.
“For me, it’s just kind of how I play the game,” he said. “But definitely unusual when you look at how people play the game of basketball now days.
“(Getting 1,000 points) is a really cool milestone, I’m really proud to accomplish it. Coach told me something about it a couple of games ago, but I wasn’t counting down or anything. I was just playing basketball.”
Which for DeMeulenaere means driving to the hoop, posting up next to the hoop, crashing the offensive glass, drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line.
When he was a freshman, he had a few minutes of court time, with Northrop basically telling him to concentrate on rebounding. Get a rebound then give the ball to someone else.
He grew 3 inches between his freshman and sophomore years and became a starter for Belle Plaine, averaging a double-double of 13.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. He was an interior presence exclusively, for a reason.
“When I tell you my jump shot was the ugliest thing you’ll ever see, I promise you it was the ugliest thing you’ll ever see,” he said with a laugh. “So the big thing for me was I obviously don’t shoot the ball well, I’ve got to find a way to put the ball into the basket.”
DeMeulenaere bumped his numbers to 18.7 points and 13 rebounds per game last season. They’re at 18.6 points and 13.5 rebounds this season.
Going into Friday night’s game against English Valleys, he’ll have amassed 654 official field-goal attempts in his career. Every single one from inside the arc.
Every single one from inside the paint. True story.
“I had to work on my ballhandling a lot because I had to get through a lot of people, through traffic to finish the ball because I couldn’t shoot from distance,” DeMeulenaere said. “So I guess that’s kind of my Achilles heel and my strength at the same time.”
“He swears, and I’m going to go look, that when he was a freshman, we were at Montezuma and were getting pounded, I put him in and he swears he made a shot from like 8 feet,” Northrop said. “But I’ll tell you this right now, there’s no way he has since.”
Northrop stresses it’s not because DeMeulenaere can’t do it. He worked diligently in the offseason on his shot, worked with a shooting coach to extend his range.
Mount Mercy recruited him hard to play hoops at its school, but DeMeulenaere said he will play college football instead as a defensive back. He hasn’t officially committed, yet, but his older brother, Luke, is a running back at Central College, so you probably can put two and two together here and get four.
“There’s got to be another kid out there somewhere, but in today’s world, I don’t think anybody who is getting to that level of (career) points ... they’re making 3s,” Northrop said. “I’m old school, and I’ve kind of gotten better about a distance shot, and we’ve had really good shooters through the years. I don’t tell them they can’t shoot, I want them to shoot it if they catch it clean and the whole nine yards. But always for years, our first option is to get one foot away. Ben’s a strong kid, and he really bought into really exploding and drawing fouls.”
“That’s just always been the thing I’ve done, to kind of bulldoze through everybody. Just run in there, get a basket or get fouled and shoot free throws, get the other team in foul trouble,” DeMeulenaere said. “I’ll shoot 3s in practice or whatever. It’s not a big deal. But going into this season, I can’t stay away from banging it inside ... That’s just the way I play.”
Around the hoop
- Kaden Hall of English Valleys and Dalton Dibert of Lansing Kee are other players who recently surpassed 1,000 points for their respective careers. Hall is a 6-3 senior forward, Dibert a 6-2 senior guard.
- South Tama beat Vinton-Shellsburg on Tuesday night, 65-61, to break a 25-game losing streak. Sophomore Daniel Wiese had 14 points and Osceola Tyon 13 for the Trojans.
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