By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – A pair of De Pere varsity basketball players – John Kinziger and Jordan Meulemans – are both primed for big seasons.
The junior Kinziger, who has been drawing interest from several Division I programs, and Meulemans, a senior and Butler University commit, both scored north of 20 points per game last season.
The boys, preseason ranked No. 1 in Division 1, open the season Saturday, Dec. 4, with a road game at West De Pere.
After winning its first game comfortably, the girls are 2-2 after a pair of losses at the Kettle Moraine Thanksgiving Tournament and a victory over Sheboygan South.
The 6-foot Kinziger is 17 points shy of hitting 1,000 career points.
The guard had two buzzer-beating wins last season – one against Seymour and the other against West De Pere.
“I’m hoping for a big season,” Kinziger said. “More importantly, I want my team to do well, advance further than last year and make it to state.”
The Redbirds lost in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 sectional final to River Falls, 53-52 – one game short of state.
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay – among other schools – has shown interest in Kinziger.
“There’s a decent amount of schools talking to me and coming to see me play,” he said. “I had several come to my AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) games this summer.”
In addition to UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee, Belmont, Virginia and Appalachian State have shown interest, Kinziger said.
“I’ll play out this season and next summer before I decide,” he said. “I’d like to commit before next season so I can play out my senior year without the pressure of recruiting hanging over me. I’ll go wherever I fit in best and have the best chance of playing.”
Meulemans can play out her final season at De Pere without the pressure of recruiting hanging over her head.
She committed to Division I Butler this past summer.
Meulemans, who had more than a dozen Division I offers, also had opportunities to play at UW-Green Bay, Marquette and Creighton.
“I love the coaching staff at Butler,” the 6-foot Meulemans, who has scored more than 1,200 points in her career, said. “I also loved the coaching staff at Marquette, but one of my favorite coaches left there. That made a difference. Also, Butler’s facilities are phenomenal.”
Green Bay Head Coach Kevin Borseth offered Meulemans a scholarship as an eighth-grader, an offer she seriously considered for a long time.
“Up until I was a sophomore, that was the only offer I had,” Meulemans said. “I was talking to other schools, but Green Bay gave me a deadline my junior year. I wasn’t ready to commit then. I wanted to give other schools the chance to recruit me as well.”
Meulemans, who said she hopes to help her team get to state, has some big goals this season.
“I’d love to be named the Fox River Classic Conference Player of the Year on defense and offense,” she said. “Last year, I was close, but my good friend Sammy (Opichka from Notre Dame Academy) beat me out on both. My ultimate goal is to be named ‘Wisconsin Miss Basketball.’”