With 2:10 left in first quarter, sophomore Lucas Jones intercepted a quick pass from the Leavenworth point guard at top of the key. The Lancer crowd grew in excitement, recognizing that there was nothing but space ahead of him. Jones knew what was about to happen. He just didn’t know whether to use one or two hands. The sophomore soared into the air, clutched the ball with both hands and threw down a dunk that caused the gymnasium to erupt.
Ninety minutes later, the Lancer boys’ basketball team met their classmates in the cafeteria to celebrate their 69-53 victory over the Leavenworth Pioneers. While most players joked with friends and rejoiced in their big win, the 6-foot-5-inch sophomore sat in the corner by himself enjoying a slice of cheese pizza. It wasn’t because he had no friends to talk to. It wasn’t because he had a bad game. In fact, he brought down a game-high nine rebounds. He sat quietly in the corner because that’s the way Lucas Jones is.
According to senior big man Chris Tuttle, Lucas Jones has always had this kind of collected demeanor.
“I met him at summer workouts a year ago and he was a tall, lanky dude that rarely spoke,” Tuttle said. “I’d say things like ‘What are you doing buddy, you’ve got fifteens on each side’. Now, I’m starting to say ‘hell of a block Tuna’ or ‘great dunk’. Now that he has established himself, he’s started joking and talking with the rest of us.”
Jones, who played the majority of last JV season despite a broken wrist, has quickly asserted himself into this year’s state contending team by bagging the ARC tournament MVP award after bringing down 14 rebounds in his debut varsity game. Despite Jones’ rebounding talents, head coach Shawn Hair is more impressed by another skill the sophomore possesses.
“More than anything, he’s adaptable and a progressor,” head coach Shawn Hair said. “He had some success in JV, then over the summer he had success with the varsity team. Now he’s just taken his game to a whole other level. Getting ten rebounds in this league is a very tough thing to do.”
One reason Jones has improved so much from last year would be his weight increase due to his constant workout regime.
“Over the summer I would lift four days a week and now I lift every Wednesday and Saturday,” Jones said.
Jones has even acquired the nickname “Big Tuna” for his impressive play in the post. The nickname came from teammate senior Chase Hanna one day when they were golfing.
“He’s a big guy and his friends would call him big money so I changed it to big tuna after seeing an episode of the office where Andy calls Jim big tuna,” Hanna said. “I think it’s hilarious that it stuck and that all the fans chant it. After seeing him play the post so well he definitely deserves the chants.”
Although Jones has gained an immense amount of attention over past few months (the sophomore racked up more than 50 new twitter followers after the Shawnee Mission West game alone), he would rather pursue a golf career in college over basketball.
“Right now I don’t think I’m going to play basketball in college,” Jones said “I’d actually prefer to golf in the next level. But anything can change, I’m only a sophomore. So we’ll see.”
Hair believes that Jones controls his own destiny in the coming years as long as the underclassmen continues to put in the hard work.
“He wants to get better, he’s always looking the next strive to do things the right way,” Hair said. “He could be as good as he wants to be. He could be a division I player if he wants to be.”
Despite his immense potential, Jones would trade in the basketball for some clubs after he graduates. The sophomore is an avid golfer and shot mid seventies on the sub-varsity golf team last spring.
“I’d play almost everyday in the beginning of summer and even try and go out on the hotter days,” Jones said. “Golf is a nice relaxing escape for me, I love just going out with my friends and playing 18 to 36 holes. Now in the colder months, basketball kind of replaces it as my escape and relaxes me.”
Even when Jones is out on the links with his friends he maintains his calm composure on the links as he does on the court. When his buddies are cursing and throwing their clubs all over the course Jones says he is the calming effect in the group.
“I like to keep it cool and not let my emotions get the best of me,” Jones said.
Jones takes the same approach to basketball as he does on the greens, taking every possession as if it were a hole on the golf course.
“A basketball game is like 18 holes,” Jones said. “Every hole counts and you have to learn from your mistake from each hole. If you get too distracted you won’t come out on top. I like to keep to myself and focus on winning.”