It wasn’t many days ago that married couple Kurt and Angie Meister dragged out their old VCR high school basketball tapes.
Kurt starred at Hamilton (Ill.) High School, while Angie (then Angie Swenson) was a Rochester John Marshall standout. Both went on to have glossy careers at South Dakota State University, where they met.
The viewing of those tapes was a family thing, and strategic — though a little bit tongue-in-cheek from Kurt. He got them out as a reminder to all three of their kids that he and Angie could really play in their day and that their basketball advice should be accepted — or at least considered.
The Meisters have three budding basketball stars in their house. There is 6-feet-8 Lincoln, a 2020 John Marshall graduate who’s set to play at Minnesota-Duluth this fall; 6-feet-2 Lilly, a junior at JM who’s getting offers and interest from some high-level Division I colleges; and 5-9 Alayna, an eighth-grader at John Adams Middle School.
But the forced viewing of those tapes, well, it didn’t really work.
“None of them listen to me (when it comes to basketball),” Kurt said with a laugh. “They’re not interested in hearing stuff from me. And as I watched the tapes, we were good for our time, but compared to players today, not so great.”
Angie, one of JM’s best female players ever, gets a similar response as Kurt does from their kids when it comes to basketball talk.
Example: Lilly, normally soft-spoken and gentle off the court, was asked how she’d fare against her mom now.
“I’d kill her,” she said, showing off that same quick humor and laugh as her dad.
Lilly is likely right. But the truth is, almost no one can handle her these days.
RECRUITED AT HIGH LEVEL
Colleges have taken notice as she’s torn things up this summer for her top-level Minnesota Fury 2022 AAU team, averaging 15 points and seven rebounds, and once good for 10 assists in a game. They also took notice this past winter season with her averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds for John Marshall. Lilly did that while shooting a gaudy 55 percent from the field, 39 percent on 3-pointers and 84 percent from the free-throw line.
She’s tall, she’s smooth, she’s strong, she’s quick and she can really shoot. Lilly checks so many boxes that powerhouse programs Oregon and Louisville are both hot after her. Oregon finished ranked No. 2 in the country this past season and Louisville No. 6. Minnesota has already offered her a scholarship, as has Nebraska, Wisconsin, South Dakota State and Eastern Illinois.
There will certainly be a horde more offers coming her way, as she’s yet to begin her junior year.
“Recruiting has become a little bit stressful,” Lilly said, “because now there are so many more schools that I’m talking to. But it’s also super exciting to be wanted. Teams like my versatility, that I can face the basket or play with my back to the basket (and score), and that I’m a playmaker.”
A DIFFERENT TIME
For Angie and Kurt, all of this attention on their daughter has been surreal.
Both went through the recruiting process as high schoolers. But they never went through it the way Lilly is now.
For them, it’s thrilling to watch and be involved in.
“It’s exciting sitting in this (parents') seat and watching Lilly talk to all of these different coaches,” Angie said. “When she does Zoom calls (on the computer) with them, I feel more excited than she is. With Zoom, it allows parents to be a part of it.”
The number and quality of teams now involved with Lilly has jolted Kurt.
“It’s a bit of a nerve-wracking thing, the recruiting,” said Kurt, a longtime JM geography teacher. “But when you’re looking at getting a full-ride scholarship to the Big 12, the SEC, the Big Ten (and the Pac 12), it is really something.”
GOT SOMETHING HERE
Angie, a Medtronic clinic specialist, decided that they really might have something in Lilly when she was in eighth grade.
Lilly had played plenty of basketball before then, with Angie having coached her youth teams. Shooting came naturally to Lilly, and she was always tall and agile.
But then came a play near the end of Lilly’s eighth-grade season, when she was already starting on the JM varsity.
Lilly received the ball near the top of the key, then swiftly dribbled through the lane, fighting through traffic. It was a new sight.
“The way she attacked the basket there, it brought me out of my seat,” said Angie, who between her and Kurt is the more verbal and excitable one. “She didn’t make the shot, but I will always remember how strong that move was, doing it through a group of seniors. Lilly showed me then that she also had that physical side to her. When I saw it, for the first time I thought, ‘Ok, this girl really might be good.’ That was the turning point for me.”
Really "might” be good can now be replaced with really “is” good, and she's proving it on a daily basis.
All the while, there is rarely anybody in the Meister house pushing her to get better. That’s because Lilly does that on her own and always has.
“She’s always loved to play basketball,” Angie said. “We have an outside hoop, and she’s been one in the winter to put on some light gloves, shovel off whatever snow is out there and get a bunch of shots up. She has that extra passion.”