Lucas enjoying present, ready for future

When Portland (OR) Westview big man Landen Lucas last set foot on the campus of the University of Kansas, it was during an impromptu official visit that ended in his commitment to the Jayhawks. Last weekend he returned to Lawrence, Kan. to take in the Border War, and is more ready than ever to don the Crimson and Blue and get to work.

When Landen Lucas last set foot on the campus of the University of Kansas, it was late October and the big center from Portland (OR) Westview was on an impromptu official visit.

As part of that visit - one which ended with him committing to the Jayhawks - he had the opportunity to take in a game at Allen Fieldhouse, as Kansas squared off with Towson University in an early-season tilt.

"To me, that was a huge game," Lucas said. "It was packed. It was close to one of the best college games I had seen as far as environment and fan support. And everyone was saying 'That's nothing.'"

"I guess I kind of believed them," he added. "But I just didn't know what the full potential of Allen Fieldhouse was."

Late last week, Lucas made a quick decision to visit Lawrence, Kan. again, this time for the highly-anticipated regular season finale of the Border War between Kansas and Missouri.

And on that day, the Fieldhouse would have made legendary British rock group Spinal Tap proud, by cranking things up to the mythical '11' on the dial - or more than 120 decibels, if one wants to get technical about it.

As Lucas sat behind the bench and took in the atmosphere, he couldn't help but be excited to be a part of it all next season.

"Just being there the whole time, I was putting myself as if I was there," he said. "Getting ready to play, playing in the game and after the game as a Kansas basketball player. I just felt comfortable, I felt like I fit in fine and everything just felt right."

While on campus, Lucas was able to spend time talking with each member of the coaching staff, including strength coach Andrea Hudy.

Hudy, who has worked wonders with current big men Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey as well as scores of past players during her tenure on Mount Oread, sees big potential for Lucas in the weight room.

"Talking to Hudy and stuff, we feel like I can still add a lot more weight," he said. "Especially upper body weight, that will be needed in some of the things I do as far as banging and rebounding."

As far as his senior campaign at Weistview goes, Lucas and the Wildcats are having an outstanding year. The 6-foot-8 240-pound big man is averaging 19.1 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game, and the team is 17-6 heading into this week's state playoffs.

Though his play is turning heads, Lucas isn't surprised. After stellar freshman and sophomore campaigns that had him sitting high in the national rankings on the various recruiting networks, he transferred to Henderson (NV) Findlay Prep for his junior year.

The move proved to not be a good fit for Lucas, and some began doubting his ability - though he never lost confidence in himself.

"I feel like a lot of people really just started underestimating me," he said. "This year I was able to get a lot of my confidence back and slowly get back on my game."

During his visit, the Kansas staff expressed their pleasure with how Lucas is playing this season.

"They were all really excited, and I know Coach Manning is really excited to work with me just like I am with him," he said. "We talk on the phone a lot and text after every game. It's just been really good, it's a family feel and you like that, you want that in a coaching staff."


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