Jai Lucas settling in at Texas

On December 28, former Houston Bellaire and Florida Gator Jai Lucas announced his intentions to transfer to Texas and play for head coach Rick Barnes. After the completion of all of the necessary paperwork to make the transfer official, Lucas began working out with the Longhorns a week ago and is beginning to get settled.

Jai Lucas will very likely have a long wait before he can don the Texas Longhorn uniform and log his first minutes as a member of what will be a top 10 team in 2009-10. Not likely to be eligible to play until December of 2009, Lucas has plenty of time to get acclimated to his new teammates, a new coaching staff and put in a lot of hard work with strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright to prepare his body the best way possible.

On Thursday, Burnt Orange Beat spoke with Lucas about the transition and what is in front of him in the next few months.

Q: How was your first week as a Longhorn?

A: It's been good. I'm picking up everything quickly. It's an easy adjustment because everybody has been willing to help and everything.

Q: What is your role with half a season remaining and the fact that you can only practice?

A: Just practice you know. When I first got here, I did some Texas Tech scouting report working as John Roberson. I'm sure when we start doing some A&M stuff, I'll shadow some of their players. In practice, it's just regular practice.

Q: Coming to Texas, you get to work with one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in Todd Wright. How much do you think he can help prepare you for next year?

A: Oh, it will be a big part of everything. We are already lifting hard core and just getting everything put in place. My strength and conditioning coach at Florida (Matt Herring) was under Todd Wright at Texas, so it is a lot of the same stuff. It's an easy transition because of that. It's just about trying to add some muscle before I step on the court.

Q: Playing 365 days a year for most of your life and playing in hundreds of games, what is it like to not be able to play in games and being relegated to watching from the end of the bench?

A: It hasn't hit me yet. I think Saturday when I'm sitting on the bench and can't do anything to help the team, it will hit me. It was something that I had to be able to handle when I made my decision. I just have to deal with it for now, but it will be tough.

Q: Being at Texas has reunited you with former Houston Hoops teammates. Has that made the transition smooth?

A: Yes, it has. A.J. (Abrams) played with the Hoops some on the older team when I was younger, but Damion (James), Gary (Johnson) and I played together. Dexter (Pittman), just being from Rosenberg and Harrison (Smith) too, we all played together and against each other. I know so many of the guys. It's a basketball team and like a family once you've been here in the trenches with them.

Q: Have you picked up on what Coach Barnes will expect from you as a point guard?

A: He's been helping me a lot in practice showing me a lot of things about how he wants his point guards to look at things. A lot of things I've heard before, so I'm just trying to fit in. Right now, the guys are in the middle of the season so I can't help them out as much.

Q: We've talked about off the court with Todd Wright. On the court, what areas do you feel like you need to work on or can help the team in the future?

A: I feel you can never be good enough. You have to continually work on everything. The one thing I think I can bring to the team is pure point guard stability (with Dogus) to help. I think I can bring an option in transition and getting things going off the dribble. I'll just try to fill a void and play where Texas needs me.

The son of former NBA star John Lucas started all 36 games as a freshman for the Gators earning SEC All-Freshman team honors after averaging 8.5 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 30-minutes per game. The 5-10 point guard led the Gators in three-point percentage at 43.5% (37-85) and scored a career-high 19 points in Florida's SEC opener at Alabama.

In addition to shooting 43.5% from long range, Lucas converted 46.0% of his field goal attempts (109-237) and 71.4% (50-70) of his free throw attempts for a Florida team that advanced to the semi-finals of the postseason NIT.


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