Posted On: 12/22/17 6:00 AM

St. Ignatius 6’2” combo guard Neeko Melendez (2018) specializes as a shooter who makes sound decisions with the ball, plays for a proven high school program, and carries a 3.4 ACT with a score of 25 on the ACT — the entire recipe for a Division III prospect. He’ll wait until the end of the season before making a college decision, but three programs from that level are in the running currently.

“There’s a couple of D-III schools: John Carroll, Hiram College, and then Heidelberg College are who I’m talking to mostly. There was a D-II NAIA, Goshen College, but I haven’t been in contact with them much since the summer,” Melendez said.

When we asked Melendez if he’s leaning any which way, he responded, “No. I think everyone is equal right now. I’m just looking at all my options.”

The senior will complete visits to all of those schools.

“I’ve taken a visit to Heidelberg. And then Hiram and John Carroll, I’m going to be visiting them come the new year,” he said.

Identifying a school that sets him up for long-term success is crucial.

“I want to go something into business, so that definitely plays a huge part in it because academics come first. My future after basketball is huge for me. So that’s something I’ll definitely look for,” Melendez said. “Then, just a program that works hard and does as much as they can to win games.”

In the meantime, Melendez wants to improve on his defense on a 3-2 Ignatius team. They’ll take the court next on Saturday against Canton McKinley. The Wildcats have played a challenging schedule thus far, earning quality wins against Lutheran East and Cleveland Heights.

“This year compared to last year, we’re running a lot more. I think one our biggest wins so far is that Cleveland Heights game. I think we won that on the defensive end. Team defense is a huge part,” Melendez said.

He contributed 16 points that night, which is his primary role now that he’s playing off the ball.

“I’ve had to pick up on the scoring role a little more than last year – well, a lot more than last year.”

Even though he’s moved towards a 2-guard role, Melendez had experience as the lead ball-handler a year ago. He’ll be comfortable playing either position in college.

“Something that maybe I haven’t been able to show much this year, but [I have the] ability to create for my teammates,” Melendez said.