The Westview senior hopes to make his Oregon return a memorable occasion in '12
There's a new sheriff on the block at Westview High School this year, but while he's new to the Wildcats' roster, he's going to look distressingly familiar to the rest of the state.
Senior Landen Lucas, who played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Sunset before leaving Oregon for Las Vegas' Findlay Prep last year, is back in town for 2011-12 and aiming to lift the Wildcats to their first-ever Class 6A state championship.
'I'm just trying to have fun and win a championship,' said Lucas, who has already signed to play his college basketball at Kansas. 'There's no telling how good we can be.'
As a sophomore, Lucas - a 6-foot-10, 240-pound post - helped take Sunset to a fourth-place finish in the 2010 Class 6A state tournament, earning second-team all-tournament honors after leading his team in scoring and the entire tournament in rebounding at 15 per game.
Before his junior year arrived, though, Lucas signed on to transfer to Findlay, one of the nation's highest-profile programs after winning a national championship in 2009 and the National Invitational title in 2010.
While Findlay didn't win it all in 2011, the Pilots had another great year, going 28-4 overall and qualifying again for the National Invitational tournament.
Lucas was a huge part of it too, earning big minutes as the team's sixth man and ending his year in Vegas with the school's fourth-highest single-season total in blocks, leading the team in blocked shots for the year, and posting the highest single-game rebounding total for the year with 17.
Despite his success in the pressure-cooker of Findlay basketball, Lucas longed to get back home and to finish his high school career in Oregon.
'I think Findlay helped with (getting ready for college) a lot, but I didn't need two years of that,' Lucas said. 'I already got one, so this year, when I came back, I was looking between a couple different schools. And once I talked to (Westview coach Pat) Coons, there was kind of a mutual feeling - I knew he was going to push me and that's what I wanted.'
So far, it's been a good fit, with the Wildcats starting their year at 5-1 and giving hope to his teammates - and the Westview community - that the team might finally break through to win its first state title after finishing second to Jesuit the past two seasons.
'We have one goal and that's to win at the end, and as long as we keep playing like we did tonight, I think we can get that goal,' said Westview junior point guard Dyrall Goods after his team's first-round win in the Les Schwab Invitational on Monday. 'It's all positive right now. The chemistry's coming and it's scary what can happen.'
Lucas, who joined the Westview squad after it had already completed its summer season, is already showing his ability with his new team, leading the Cats in both scoring and rebounding and giving the team the same kind of inside presence it had enjoyed the past two season with 2011 graduate Austin Kuemper, now a freshman on the Oregon men's team.
'They played the summer league without me so there was kind of a different dynamic to the team,' Lucas said. 'But they're getting used to me, knowing what I like, me knowing what they like and where they're going to be. I only think we're going to get better.'
'I feel like we're starting to come together,' Goods added. 'We can just give it to Landen down low and he'll make something happen. I'm happy with what we're doing right now.'