By BRAD KEITH
Tarleton State head men’s basketball coach Lonn Reisman has announced the signing of Jean-Marc Melchior to play for the Texans in 2008-09.
Melchior instantly becomes the most experienced Texan on the roster. The 6-6 forward has spent the last three seasons at NCAA Division I and Big 10 member Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. During that time, he saw action in 32 games.
Before attending school in the US, the Contern, Luxembourg native was a budding European star in one of Luxembourg’s top leagues, the DBBL. In 2004-05, he scored 30 or more points four times on his way to averaging 19.4 per game to finish second on his team, the BBC Black Star Mersch. He was named Newcomer of the Year by Eurobasket.com and was selected to the All-Domestic Players Team.
Melchior has competed at a high level since he made his first Luxembourg national team roster at age 12. He went on to make the national team in four different age divisions. He was also a team captain for the country’s Minis national championship team and a Scolaires National Cup winner.
“I definitely feel like I’ve experienced enough basketball situations that not many things surprise me on the court,” said Melchior, who has one season of eligibility remaining. “In Europe, the style of play was very fast and players had more freedom with the ball. At Northwestern, our offense was very methodical and we weren’t allowed to break from it. That taught me a more organized approach to the game.”
Melchior gained invaluable experience at Northwestern, but never scored at the level he once did in Europe. The slow-down style of the Princeton offense employed by Northwestern never matched with his abilities. He averaged only 3.8 points while playing in 15 games as a junior last season.
But at Tarleton, Reisman believes Melchior will be a much better fit.
“The philosophy of our system matches his abilities,” Reisman said in an interview with tarletonsports.com. “He puts the ball on the floor really well, is an outstanding passer and I look for him to be a solid scorer and rebounder for us.”
Those skills are the reason assistant coach Ronnie Hamilton began recruiting Melchior in the first place.
“One of (Northwestern’s) assistant coaches told me he’s athletic and quick to the basket,” Hamilton said. “They said he’s also one of their most well-conditioned athletes and that he has a high basketball-IQ. He’s played in the international style that has had such a big influence on the college game, and he has a lot of experience with it. I think he’s someone who can step in here and help right away.”
Melchior also has plenty of experience in the classroom, where he will earn a bachelor’s degree in economics this summer. He will begin work on his master’s at Tarleton this fall.
“I’m graduating a year early,” said the 23-year old Melchior. “I was ahead when I started at Northwestern because schooling in Europe lasts so much longer. I earned college credits for a lot of the courses I took my last year of high school. Back home, most people who go to universities come back with master’s degree. It’s just expected, so I want to achieve that.”
Melchior says it’s the Texan coaches and players who made him excited to come to Tarleton.
“There’s a team chemistry among the returning players that’s exciting,” he said. “I can tell everyone wants to work hard to make the team better, not just the individual.”
Concerning Reisman, Melchior says he loves the coach’s demand for accountability.
“When I visited Tarleton they showed me a presentation of last year’s team,” he said. “As Coach Reisman watched, I could tell he holds every player accountable.”
The newest Texan left no doubt concerning his goals at Tarleton.
“There are high expectations at Tarleton,” he said. “Not just to be a contender in the national tournament, but to win the whole thing. That is the mentality of Coach Reisman and the entire program, and that’s the mentality I try to bring every time I play the game.”