When you’re seven feet tall and weigh over 300 pounds, someone is going to eventually find you. In the case of Jan Maehlen, it was a bunch of surfer dudes from California.
Maehlen, the 7-foot senior at Ironwood Ridge HS in Tucson, just signed his national letter-of-intent at Pepperdine.
The school is located in Malibu. Their team is called the Waves. And Maehlen is from the Midwest. How’s that for a clash of cultures? Oh well… surf’s up!
Maehlen is actually from Germany, followed by a nine-year stop-over in the heart of the midwest, Indiana. He moved to Tucson for his senior year – to the delight of Ironwood Ridge which rode him to a 21-7 regular-season record and into the quarterfinals of the state tournament. The man-among-boys averaged 14 points and 9 rebounds a game.
But he’ll adjust to the California lifestyle. The call from Pepperdine, an NCAA Div. I school, had to be a welcome bit of attention. Up to this point, the only team of any significance we had heard showed any real interest was Ball State.
And he should be a welcome addition to a team that went 7-23 last season.
The major college programs obviously saw him as too big of a project, despite his tantalizing size. He didn’t know the sport existed until he arrived in Indianapolis when he was eight years old. He learned the game and has a great ‘basketball IQ’, says Ironwood coach Brian Peabody, but still needs to work on his position skills and get into condition to play college ball. Losing about 25 pounds from his 330 lb. frame will help, which is Pepperdine’s game plan.
But the Waves know what they’re getting. In fact, he’ll be the second 7-footer on the squad. He’ll be the other ‘twin tower’ next to junior Andy Shannon, who has also been something of a project for head coach Tom Asbury.
Time to order up another custom uniform. Extra cloth, bigger holes.
Asbury knows the Arizona landscape well. He lived in Tucson, brought in a graduate of Desert Vista HS in Phoenix (Josh Lowery) this year, and also has another player on the roster, Denis Agre, who was developed in the Central Arizona College basketball program.
“Jan can get the ball and play with his back to the basket,” Asbury said at the signing. “He’s a better player than his body shows. He’ll be a big contributor, we just don’t know how soon.”
That will probably depend on how successful Asbury is at keeping the big guy away from the lunch wagon.