For the second time in the past year, former Shocker Gal Mekel is getting national attention as an NBA-caliber player. Two conclusions are possible:
- Mekel improved greatly from his two seasons (2006-08) as a Shocker and his ball-handling wizardry and court smarts are good enough to compensate for a lack of quickness. Maybe he got quicker.
- Mekel works with an agent or coach who has the ear of an NBA writer or two and the hype machine is at work.
According to ESPN’s TrueHoop, at least seven NBA teams are taking a hard look at Mekel, a 6-foot-4 guard who can wow people with his passing and dribbling.
“With the spacing and the court over here, and for me a guy who loves to play the pick and roll, and read situations, it makes it easier to read and play with the spacing and opportunities in the NBA,” Mekel said on TrueHoop.com. “It feels better than the European game.”
Mekel visited Wichita in October and played some pickup basketball, a session documented here. The story I heard about Mekel’s visit is that he controlled the pickup games on his first day, and word got back to coach Gregg Marshall. Marshall challenged Malcolm Armstead and the tone of the games changed on the second day, after Armstead had time to prepare for Mekel’s style. I saw the first day, when Mekel did whatever he wanted. I missed the second day, unfortunately. If you know Armstead, you know he likes challenges and watching him go against Mekel would have been a treat.
Mekel is an NBA-level ball-handler and he would impress coaches and scouts in workouts. He takes the game very seriously and is strong and fearless. I’m not sure he can handle NBA athletic ability. He made 30.5 percent of his threes (52-170) in two seasons at WSU, but a team might be smart to give him a look if they need a backup guard who can run the pick and roll.