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Sports

Boys Basketball: With added muscle, Downers Grove North's Jack Mielke matures into 'different' player

Trojans' senior attracting attention from a number of Division II schools

Downers Grove North’s Jack Mielke looks to pass the ball Dec. 14 during their game against Lyons Township.
Downers Grove North’s Jack Mielke looks to pass the ball Dec. 14 during their game against Lyons Township.

Jack Mielke transformed his body in order to make a dramatic transformation to his game.

The Downers Grove North senior forward gained 15 pounds of muscle since the end of last season. At 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, Mielke said he’s a different player with many more layers to his game.

“I felt at the end of last season that I was a good shooter, but I needed to work on creating shots for myself,” Mielke said. “I feel like I’ve become way better now at driving the ball to the rim, creating shots for myself and my teammates.

“The added muscle has helped with finishing through contact and improving my game in the post. I’m able to move guys and not be moved.”

Downers Grove North coach James Thomas said Mielke is a completely different player. He averaged nearly 15 points per game last season.

“Jack is really mature beyond his years,” Thomas said. “He’s been the lifeblood of our program. Skill-wise, he’s perimeter oriented and can step out. He shot really well last year. But we needed him to create matchup problems, when a smaller or a bigger guy guarded him.

“He completely understood what we needed him to do in the offseason. He can now post up smaller guys and take bigger guys off the dribble. He takes advantage of mismatches. His feet are now faster and he’s more explosive to the rim. College coaches love how he shoots the ball and communicates on the floor.”

Mielke, a stretch-four type player, is attracting attention from a number of Division II schools. He’s received offers from Truman State, Hillsdale College, Lewis, Northern Michigan, Northwood, Rockhurst and Indiana Tech. Mielke said Southern Indiana, North Georgia, Palm Beach Atlantic, Nebraska-Kearney, San Diego, Lafayette and Brown have also shown interest.

Mielke, who scored a 32 on his ACT, is looking for the right blend of quality athletics and academics.

“My goals with recruiting are to find a school that seeks to compete at a high level on the basketball floor,” Mielke said. “I want to have a great education that will allow me to support myself and those around me when the ball stops bouncing.

“I also want a place where the team I play with truly feels like a family. That’s been the type of environment I have been in with my AAU team, Breakaway, and also playing high school ball at Downers Grove North. I want to find a similar type atmosphere at the college level.”

Either way, Thomas said Mielke is a rare player to energize and lead a program. Thomas added Mielke’s all-around game is a big part of his growing success on the court, but he also brings intangibles that can’t be measured by statistics.

“Jack is unbelievably brilliant,” Thomas said. “He’s looking for a school that fits him athletically and as a student. A lot of people out East trying to figure out if a fit for him. But the most unique thing about him, to me is he has brought our program closer together. Through his personality, he never makes an excuse and he’s unbelievably talented socially at making other people valued. I’ve never been around a player like that. His teammates think the world of him, because how he treats others.”

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