Even when Kyle Meyer left the Midwest, the Midwest never left him.
Meyer has lived more than half his life in suburban Atlanta, but that won’t be true a few years from now, provided he fulfills his Iowa men’s basketball career.
His parents both grew up outside Fort Wayne, Ind., and raised Kyle as an Indiana Pacers and Hoosiers fan until Meyer’s dad, Shelby, was transferred to the Southeast when Kyle was in third grade.
Meyer’s sense of loyalty to Big Ten country never left the Hawkeyes’ incoming 6-foot-10, 220-pound freshman forward. One of the first schools to contact Meyer was Indiana, and Meyer attended some elite Hoosiers camps. But interest tailed off. Much like fellow Iowa forward Aaron White, Meyer received only one firm scholarship offer from a power-conference program, and he took it, picking the Hawkeyes over an East Carolina offer. Clemson was also showing heavy interest.
“When he decides to do something, his bond means 100 percent,” said Horace Neysmith, Meyer’s AAU coach with the Atlanta Celtics.
When Fran McCaffery and his staff tapped into Meyer’s comfort level, the 800-mile driving distance from Alpharetta, Ga., to Iowa City failed to deter this class’ first Hawkeyes recruit. He decided against waiting out the summer after his junior year, a peak recruitment period, and trusted the Iowa coaches.
“He’s had a great experience with those guys from Day 1,” Shelby Meyer said. “We didn’t get the sense that they were playing games like some other folks.”
This isn’t the first time as a teenager Meyer displayed his allegiance. When school districts were rezoned before his sophomore year, his new home school was Chattahoochee, but he elected to stick with Northview, favoring his teammates and coach Steven Bombard.
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He’s not the first Northview grad to play in the Big Ten. Former Minnesota big man Ralph Sampson III was an alum, but Meyer has put the Hawkeye State on the map among his friends of the past 10 years.
“If you say Iowa in Atlanta, people will think of me now. No one’s ever heard much of it, never crossed their mind,” Meyer said. “Now, if you say my friend’s going to Iowa, they say, ‘Oh, Kyle Meyer.’ It’s kind of cool to have that affiliation.”
Now that he’s here, the competition for minutes in the post is fiercer than the summer humidity in either the Midwest or Southeast. Meyer struggled in the first few Prime Time League summer games, and switched teams to fill in for injured Augustana grad Dain Swetalla, which yielded more court time.
“He’s got to get used to the speed of the game and get used to the fact he’s not the tallest player on the floor,” Neysmith said. “There are other kids as big and as strong as he is. He’s a very intelligent kid, and I think he will adjust.”