As a fellow Bostonian, I’m always proud to see guys reach the NBA or playing overseas that come from Massachusetts and the Boston area. I suppose the best known guy that played high school ball in the Boston area was in Cambridge with Patrick Ewing. Some other guys that you can throw into this big Boston pool are guys like Rumeal Robinson, Pat Connaughton or Chris Herren. Not only NBA guys come from the state Massachuseets or the Boston area but also numerous other talented guys including some I have had dealings with interviewing like Evan Smotrycz, Kyle Casey, Dennis Clifford and others. Another one of those highly skilled Boston area guys that is played his rookie season overseas is point guard Jordan Mello-Klein (185-G-1998, college: Bentley). He is one of those special and rare players that tore up division 2 ball, but still found his way overseas which isn’t always self-evident. He was briefly in Israel and finished the game he loves in Germany for third division Pro B team Herford. He is a player that knew right away who Bonzie Colson, Jordan Rezendes, Shabazz Napier and Eric Demers were when I threw them into the Boston pool. ‘Yeah, I have played against most of those guys in summer runs before. There’s a pretty strong network of pickup in the Boston area during the summer and I don’t think the city or state gets enough credit for the amount of talent we produce. We see it because all the college and pros play together during the summers, but nationally it’s not as respected as bigger cities when I think it should be’, stressed Jordan Mello-Klein. He is another division 2 Mass area boy looking to make the Boston area proud.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Eric Demers in Portland, Maine in Nov 2021
Jordan Mello-Klein who lists NBA beast Zion Williamson in AAU being his toughest foe ever was born on April 14th, 1998 in Sharon, Massachuseets. He began his basketball career at prep school Thayer on the south shore. Even if the school is known for being a ice hockey factory that produced NHL legends Jeremy Roenick and Tony Amonte, that legacy wasn’t going to hinder him from playing basketball there.’It was interesting. We definitely saw hockey being prioritized for sure, but they won and produced guys at a high level, so it made sense. I came in during a phase where the school was trying to turn the basketball program around so we did see major progress while I was there. I think we had 3 scholarship players which hadn’t been done in maybe 10 years at the school’, remembered Jordan Klein-Mello. He then attended Bentley College from 2017-2022 winning the Norh east title in 2022 and reaching the division 2 Elite 8 as well. He has so many fond memories of that tough senior season during Covid. ‘Man, too many to name. We really accomplished everything we set out to accomplish, short of a National Championship. I would say my fondest memories were winning the conference championship and the regional championship. We won both at home in front of big crowds and it’s very hard within our region to win both. It kind of capped off a really special season with a really special group of guys’, stressed Jordan Mello-Klein. In his freshman year he reached the Northeast-10 all rookie team. Overal he was able to improve his scoring, rebounding and assist averages each season. Especially in his junior and senior years his game took off as he averaged 12.4ppg, 5.9rpg, 5.5apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 46.8%, FT: 79.4% and as a senior averaged 15.0ppg, 8.4rpg, 5.2apg, 2.1spg, FGP: 41.6%, 3PT: 42.8%, FT: 79.6%. ‘I think my game grew tremendously. I think mostly in terms of actually learning and understanding the game. Obviously my numbers increased every year, but that was because I had a bigger role and more confidence, but my knowledge of the game was the thing I saw the biggest strides in from Freshman year to my last year’, stated Jordan Mello-Klein. In his junior year he scored in double figures in 16 of 29 games including scoring 28 points against Assumption and 24 points against St Anselm and New Haven while as a senior he scored in double figures in 25 of 29 games including 26 points against SNHU. He had a rare triple double of 13 points, 11 rebounds and 15 assists against Wilmington. He has shown that versatility could also be his middle name.’Yeah, it was definitely a special achievement. I didn’t know it was the first in program history, but that made it even cooler. I had a few more games where I was one assist, or rebound shy, but couldn’t quite pull it off. We never really stressed stats or individual performances at Bentley, so it was a cool moment, but that’s about it. Versatility is a huge part of my game. I think the more things you can do at a high level on the court, the more valuable you are to the team. If you can only do one thing, you better be really, really good at it. ‘, remembered Jordan Mello-Klein. In his senior year he achieved All-Northeast-10 All-Tournament MVP, All-Northeast-10 First Team, and Northeast-10 All-Tournament Team -2022. His incredible career couldn’t have gone as well without the guidance of head coach Jay Lawson. ‘I don’t have enough time to answer this question properly, but he did a great job. He’s the best coach I have ever, and will ever play for. Not just as a basketball coach, but as a teacher of life; he has been as influential as anyone over the last 5 years and I credit him for everything I’ve learned and accomplished as a basketball player’, warned Jordan Mello-Klein who remembers battling teammate Colton Lawrence at Bentley in 1-1 as whoever got hot that day won.
The flashy guard who lists Kobe, MJ, Lebron and Shaq on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore began his rookie season in Israel. It is very rare for a division 2 player to land not only in a division 1 league in Europe, but even rarer in a top league like the Winner league in Israel. He landed with Elitzur Kiryat Ata and despite his stay was short, it is an experience he won’t forget. ‘It was a really good first experience. I was thrown into a super high level of basketball which for some parts I was ready for and some parts I wasn’t ready for. It showed me what level I want to play at and what things I need to do to work on to get there. It was almost opposite of how I have been playing for the past 5 years, so breaking those habits was really difficult to do in only a couple of months, but those guys over there really looked out for me and helped me get adjusted. I wish I was able to show myself better and I think I would’ve if I had more time, but unfortunately things were held up with my citizenship and I had to leave’, expressed Jordan Mello-Klein. He also was extremely fortunate to be able to train with ex NBA player Diante Garrett who kept him on his toes at all times. ‘Diante was really helpful. He’s a high level player obviously and a high level competitor too. He’s almost always under control, he controls the game and plays at his own pace. He’s also really good in the middle of the court making decision, whether it be a lob or a kick to the corner so I think that is what I took from his game most. He’s been playing for a long time so he’s really experienced off the pick and roll which is what I had to get adjusted to’, stated Jordan Mello-Klein. Having that first experience overseas is never easy, but unlike other guys, he didn’t have a brutal wake up call to being overseas where he knew that he was far away from home. ‘I’m not sure I had like a rude wake up call at all. It’s mostly just the cultural differences; different language, different food and weather, but nothing crazy has happened. The time difference I would say is a struggle as well and being away from family and friends, but I had family in Israel that really took me in and was super helpful with everything so that made the adjustment much easier’, said Jordan Mello-Klein.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Jordan Mello-Klein in Rhondorf, Germany in 2023
The Mass native who surprisingly is a Lakers fan names Tremont Waters, Nick Richards, Jordan Nwora, Jermaine Samuels,Ryan Richmond and Colton Lawrence as his best teammates of all-time then landed in Germany with Pro B (3rd division) team BBG Herford. He joined a struggling team who moved up from the fourth division Regionalliga as they have had coming and goings with players. Even if the weather change is a shock coming form Israel, it isn’t too bad since he knows what tough New England winters are all about. ‘ It’s definitely been a roller coaster. I remember saying in Israel that I couldn’t wait to wear fall clothes, but now I regret saying that. I miss the Israeli sun for sure, but yes I am kind of used to the cold being from Boston. It’s a different kind of winter though, in New England it’s more snow, but also more sunlight too. These winters are very dark which has a different feel to it’, added Jordan Mello-Klein. Despite the team struggles, he felt very comfortable in his new surroundings. ‘I think it’s tough in any organization if there’s not much consistency. It really takes time to build chemistry on the court and learn where everyone fits in the system, but we are figuring it out. It’s only been a few weeks and were already showing a lot of improvement so I think we’ll figure things out. It’s just tough because there’s only a few months left to do so. I think I appreciate most the fact that we have guys now that are willing to work and sacrifice in order to accomplish our goals. It’s tough for guys on the team when new players come in mid-season and play big roles, but these guys have adjusted well on and off the court’, expressed Jordan Mello-Klein. Two guys who have been instrumental in the guard getting adjusted have been German sniper Filmore Beck and head coach David Bunts. ‘Everyone has been good in welcoming me. We have a lot of experience and coming in with a few other guys has made it easier. Filmore has been huge for me because we are both coming from a higher level in a sense, so some of the struggles we’re facing here are similar. Coach David has been huge in helping me getting adjusted to life here on and off the court. He’s also American and played the same position as me which makes it easier when you can really communicate with your coach. He’s shown me around the city and whenever I need something he’s been there’, stressed Jordan Mello-Klein. He has put up solid stats with BBG Herford, but knows it takes time to adjust in every new scenario. ‘The biggest adjustment is just getting used to playing with new players. As a point guard, it’s so much about knowing your teammates; where they can thrive the most. In college, I had 5 years to figure those tendencies out, here I only have 3 months. Also the style of play is much different from anything I’ve ever played in’, expressed Jordan Mello-Klein who finished the season averaging 10,3ppg, 5,5rpg and 5,2apg while shooting 36% from outside.
The 185cm guard who believes that Kobe and MJ are 1a, 1b and Lebron is behind both of them is a player that is an undersized lefty that compares his game to a Mike Conley and Jalen Brunson and is crafty and can shoot the ball. At Bently he demonstrated his scoring and playmaking, but where is he more comfortable? It seems like unselfishness could be part of his middle name. ‘For sure the 1. I like having the ball in my hands to control the game. I think I have a calming presence on the floor that you’d want in your lead guard, and not to mention I think I’m too small to play the 2. I’ve always felt like the point guard position should be to help make everyone else’s life easier on the court. And I think that means doing whatever it takes. Scoring fits in that definition as well, but it might be setting guys up for easy shots, or defending the best player. It’s always been whatever helps the team win, as it should be for all positions,’, said Jordan Mello-Klein. But it isn’t only his versatility as a whole that sparkles, but his shooting and especially his defensive game really standout. ‘I think those are the two most important parts of the game, to be honest. I think if you can shoot, you can play and if you can defend, you can play. So, if you can do both at a high level, then you can play a lot. That started as a freshman in college. You kind of have to do whatever to earn minutes, even if it’s not the pretty stuff. So defending and hitting open shots is how I stayed on the court. In terms of improving, I think there’s always room for improvement in all areas of my game. The better I get at shooting and defending, the more valuable I will be to higher level teams’, warned Jordan Mello-Klein. But he knows that this is only the start and if he wants to make bigger steps, he will need to continue to improve and develop his game further. ‘I would say shooting off the dribble; behind screens, behind the arc mostly. Certainily pick and roll play is such a big part of overseas basketball. It’s something that I haven’t played in much before so just expanding my knowledge on reads and options I think will help take my game up a notch’, stated Jordan Mello-Klein. One thing is for sure, if he continues to make strides then not only will he continue to make the Boston basketball name proud, but also give Thayer the opportunity to boast about a basketball player for once and not always about a ice hockey player.