Meulemans adjusts to Big East Conference play
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – Jordan Meulemans, a 2022 De Pere High School graduate, helped lead the girls’ basketball team to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament at the Resch Center in Green Bay during her senior season.
After scoring a program-best 1,874 career points in her four-year varsity career, Meulemans took her talents to Butler University, a Division I college in Indianapolis.
Having the same success she had as a Redbird, Meulemans had a solid first year for the Bulldogs this past season as a freshman.
“I’d say it was a good first season for me,” Meulemans said. “It was an adjustment playing from high school to the Big East (Conference). I wasn’t sure what my role would be coming in as a freshman, but I think it went well.”
Meulemans played in 26 games for Butler during the 2022-23 season — starting 15 and averaging 24 minutes per game.
“I was happy with my minutes,” she said. “I probably played almost the entire game in high school, but I realized college is a big step up. I think that’s quite a few minutes for a freshman.”
Meulemans averaged 4.5 points per game and had three games with 12 or more points.
She scored a season-high 13 points against Providence on 5-of-7 shooting, went 4-for-6 from 3-point range versus Seton Hall to score 12 points and hit four of her five attempts from behind the arc against Georgetown in scoring 12 points.
Of her 41 made field goals, 32 were three-pointers.
“I was that kick-out shooter on the three-point line,” Meulemans said.“I was also responsible for guarding one of the best players on the opposing team.”
Because she was one of the main outside shooters on the team, Meulemans didn’t get a chance to drive to the bucket much like she did in high school.
“I only shot four free throws all season,” she laughed. “That’s not who I am as a player, so hopefully next season I will get to the line more. We had two or three main players who drove the lane, and I was that shooter on the outside they kicked the ball to.”
With classes ending at Butler in a few weeks, Meulemans said she’ll head home to the Green Bay area to enjoy some family and friend time.
“I’ll be back home until about the middle of June,” she said. “Our strength coach will give us workouts to complete, but I’ll do some relaxing, too.”
Changing of the guard
After Butler finished 1-27 during the 2021-22 season, the school parted ways with then-head coach Kurt Godlevske — the same coach who had recruited Meulemans out of high school.
In April 2022, the Bulldogs hired Austin Parkinson to take over the program.
In a nice turnaround, Butler finished 11-19 under Parkinson during his first season on the bench.
“When I got the call from the athletic director, my stomach dropped,” Meulemans said after Godlevske was let go. “That’s your worst nightmare — having the same coach who recruited you get fired. You never know what a first-year coach is going to do with recruits — I was super nervous.”
Meulemans said after Parkinson was hired, it was a wait-and-see game.
“I’m super happy I stayed,” she said. “Coach P and his staff are amazing. They push me daily to be a better player and person in a positive way. I think Coach P is on his way to building that winning culture here.”
Before taking the Butler job, Parkinson led the IUPUI women’s program for 12 seasons, posting a 224-141 record.
“When I got the job (at Butler), I liked Jordan’s game,” Parkinson said. “I was thrilled she stayed. I tell people, ‘Jordan was the smartest freshman I ever coached in my career.’ She got a lot of credit in high school for scoring, but she was our best wing defender and picked things up quickly.”
Parkinson said he expects Meulemans to take big steps in the next few seasons.
“She’s spent a year in the Big East and knows what that’s like,” he said. “I always joked with her that she had the greenest light of any freshman I’ve ever coached. Sometimes she would even pass up open shots. Now we need to work on expanding her game… getting to the rim and her mid-range game.”
Parkinson said there were a few Big East games that were eye-openers for Meulemans.
“When Jordan got into those games, I think she thought to herself, ‘I can play at this level,’” he said. “It was a confidence boost for her. She missed a few games due to injury during the season but came back and was really good.”
Parkinson said because the program went through such a turnover with the roster, it wasn’t easy for incoming freshmen to mesh with the veterans.
“That wasn’t an issue for Jordan — she fit in great,” he said. “It’s rare to rely on a freshman, but yet there were oftentimes I was using Jordan as an example — that was pretty neat. She exemplifies what it means to be a college basketball player and student.”
De Pere days
Meulemans said she still thinks about her De Pere days and playing for coach Jeremy Boileau.
“I miss those days, but I’m also excited for my future at Butler,” she said. “Claire Bjorge (a junior on this year’s De Pere squad) was always sending me the Germantown game (from my senior year).”
Bjorge missed the entire season due to a knee injury, but the Redbirds still finished second in the Fox River Classic Conference behind Notre Dame Academy.
“I was super proud of the team,” Meulemans said. “With Claire out, the rest of the team had to step up.”