Published in the Evansville Courier Press on June 19, 2017 by Gordon Engelhardt
Walking small in the land of giants, Mekhi Lairy has silenced the skeptics his entire basketball career.
“I’m used to it now,” said Lairy, who is entering his senior season at Bosse High School. “I’ve dealt with it my whole life. I play my heart out.”
Listed as 5-foot-8 and 135 pounds, Lairy received his first NCAA Division I basketball offer last week from UT-Martin. He is hoping there are many more to come. Lairy overcomes his lack of size by simply driving around slower defenders or getting off his shot so quickly there is nothing a taller defender can do to stop him.
“My mindset is to be patient,” said Lairy, who made an unofficial visit to Fort Wayne earlier this year.
He said it was a relief to get his first D-I offer.
“I’m looking forward to the chance of playing college basketball for free,” Lairy said. “All I have been waiting for is an opportunity.”
Lairy faced Castle’s Jack Nunge for the final time at the prep level as the Indiana Junior All-Stars split a pair of exhibition games with their Senior counterparts, leading up to the annual Indiana-Kentucky series.
“It was great,” Lairy said. “It’s always a good competition against him. I wish him the best of luck at Iowa.”
An Indiana Junior Core All-Star, Lairy led the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference in scoring (23.0), led the state in assists (8.2) and averaged 5.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals in sparking Bosse to a Class 3A semistate berth. The Bulldogs lost 84-77 to Indianapolis Crispus Attucks in the Seymour Semistate, their first loss to a 3A team all season. As a sophomore, Lairy lifted Bosse to a berth in the 3A title game.
He shot 43.8 percent from 3-point range (77-176) as a junior and 55.1 percent overall (222-403). Playing against the Senior Stars made Lairy realize he needs to get stronger to prepare for playing at the next level.
“That’s what I look forward to doing,” he said.
Lairy is 113 points away from succeeding Larry Weatherford as Bosse’s career scoring leader and 446 away from replacing Day School’s Jeremy Willis as the City’s all-time leading scorer. Weatherford scored 1,559 points before graduating in 1967 and went on to play for Purdue. Willis poured in 1,899 points before graduating in 1999.