Luke Loucks is a 25 year old 196cm guard from Clearwater, Florida playing his fourth professional season and first in Germany with the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau (Germany-ProA). He started his basketball career with Florida St. (NCAA) in 2008 where he played until 2012 playing a total of 136 NCAA games. He reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2011 and as a senior played 35 games averaging 7.1ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 44.2%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 70.8%. In 2012 he started his professional season with VEF Riga (Latvia-LBL): VTB League: 6 games: 1.5ppg; VTB United League: 6 games: 1.5ppg; Latvian LBL: 4 games: 1.8ppg, 3.3rpg, 5.3apg, in Jan.’13 moved to Forex Time Apollon (Cyprus-Division A) playing 11 games: 10.4ppg, 3.3rpg, 6.4apg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 76.5%. In the 2013-2014 season he played with the Kangoeroes Basket Willebroek (Belgium-Ethias League): 26 games: 10.3ppg, 3.3rpg, Assists-2(4.7apg), FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 30.3%, FT: 77.9%. Last season he played with the t Erie Bay Hawks (D-League): 10 games: 4.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.4apg, in Feb.’15 moved back to Maine Red Claws (D-League): 9 games: 2.4ppg, 1.2rpg, 2.2apg. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Luke thanks for talking to German Hoops Congrats about signing with the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau. What do you know about the country Germany and its basketball?
I have followed German basketball for a very long time. When I was 16 I came over with my high school to play in a tournament in Tübingen for 10 days and I had a great time. I have also had many friends and former teammates play in Germany so I have always kept tabs on the league. I am very excited to be here.
You joined a very ambitious team that is playing its first season in the competitive pro A. Do you feel a lot of pressure of leading this club since you have a lot of experience and are a point guard?
I enjoy being in a situation where the coaches and the management are as ambitious as the players. The White Wings as an organization have very high goals for the coming years and I believe that our team this season will help take the next step toward those goals. I’ve played in a lot of leagues and different levels, so I am looking forward to embracing my role as a veteran on this young team.
On a team where scoring might be lacking in comparison to other teams are you be comfortable to shooting more and having to score if needed?
Absolutely. Although my best asset is passing the ball and creating for others I am more than capable of handling a larger scoring role on this team. I will do whatever it takes to helps us win games.
Hanau assistant coach Ryan Pannone was your contact to Hanau. What has been your early impression of head coach Simon Cote? He is a guy that is making a comeback as head coach in Germany after last coaching here in 2009.
I’ve known Ryan for more than a decade and he is one of the best skill developers I have seen and worked with. He works with many NBA players in the off season and I trust his opinion. He told me that Coach Simon was exceptional and that I would really improve under his guidance and I’d have to agree with him. I think that both of our coaches are very intelligent, ambitious, and will continue to move up the ranks.
It has been a toughs season for the Hebeisen White Wings. How tough were the first 5 loses? The team finally beat Rhondorf. How were you staying postive in this tough time?
I hate losing so the beginning of the season was definitely tough. We were dealing with a lot of injuries – actually we are still dealing with a lot of injuries- but we tried to focus on improving every day in practice and understand that it’s a long season and excuses don’t get you anywhere.
Since the win against Rhondorf the team is playing a lot better, but up and down having a 4-5 record. Why can´t the team play more consistent basketball?
We have been playing much better basketball recently and our defense has improved dramatically. As a small budget team we don’t have super explosive offensive players but understand that we can beat teams with our defense and team play.
Your averaging 7,0ppg, 3,0rpg and 4,1apg. How has it been adjusting to the Pro A style for you?
It has been an OK transition to Pro A. My overall goal is to get back to a higher league but that will come with hard work and improving every day, both individually and for our team. I have never been a big scorer but my percentages for shooting and assist numbers will need to keep improving to be a more efficient player. I want to be as efficient as possible every time I’m on the court.
What have you appreciated most about the play of the very talented Til Joscha Joenke? Have you seen a better rebounding 190cm guard than him?
Til Joschka Joenke is a relentless competitor. He is a great teammate to have as he is always defending and playing as hard as he can. We have some battles in practice but are good friends off the court.
Kruize Pinks has been tearing up the Pro A. Where would Hanau be this season without this work horse?
Kruize Pinkins is a key member of our team and has been our best player so far as a rookie. His motor never stops and he is a great rebounder for being an undersized post player. We are a much better team when he is on the court.
It wasn´t an easy start for head coach Simon Cote, but now things are working better for the team. What have you appreciated most about his coaching style?
Coach Simon and his assistant Ryan Pannone are excellent coaches. They remained optimistic in the tough times and coached us hard every day. They are great at developing our skills and preparing our team to win. Simon reminds me somewhat of Brad Stevens, as he is never rattled and always remains even keeled and positive whether we are winning by 20 or losing by 10.
In your scouting report it says you hardly shoot the ball and are a very good passer as your assist stats show. Would you describe yourself as the classical pass first guard?
Yes. I know I am capable of shooting the ball with good percentages but I am a prototypical pass first point guard.
You have warned that you want to lead the German Pro A in assists and pave your way to the Beko BBL. Would you like to be the Jared Jordan of the Pro A?
To have my name mentioned with Jared Jordan is an honor. Even though we are very different players I admire the way he passes the ball and leads his teams.
You obviously know how to set up your teammates well and lead a team, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
As a bigger guard I need to continue to improve my overall defense, but a hidden strength of mine would be my off the ball defense. I think that similarly to offense, defense is perfected with reading angles that can result in deflections and steals.
Last season you split time with D-league teams Maine and Eire after coming off a productive second professional season where you were second in assists in Belgium with the Kangoeroes Basket Willebroek. You didn´t get minutes in the D-league. How disappointing was last year and was it a lost season?
It was very frustrating personally, but I gained valuable experience every day in practice going against guys like Tim Fraizer, who is now in the NBA and was the MVP of the D league, Chris Babb, Seth Curry and Peyton Siva. I don’t think it was a lost season as I feel I improved, but looking back I probably would have come to Europe again instead of go the D League route.
After your season in the D-league do you think you will return in the future? Is the D-league more a business and a league where the most skilled players not always get the credit they deserve with minutes?
The D League is filled with rosters of very talented and skilled players so it’s difficult for everyone to get the minutes they think they deserve. A lot of the decisions are controlled by the parent teams and from a development standpoint they will always protect their business and investment decision which I completely understand.
Where do you rank your behind the back pass to Christian Watford in your all time most nifty passes?
I think that would make my top five list. I loved playing with Christian.
After a mixed rookie season in Latvia and Cyprus, you had your break out season in Belgium with Kangoeroes Basket Willebroek (Belgium-Ethias League) playing 26 games averaging 10.3ppg, 3.3rpg, Assists-2(4.7apg), FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 30.3%, FT: 77.9%. How was your game able to improve and get to the next level in this season?
I was actually pretty banged up for a lot of the season in Belgium with injuries to my hand and hamstring at different parts of the year. I can definitely produce better percentages with my shooting and scoring.
As a rookie you played for VEF Riga (Latvia-LBL): VTB League and Forex Time Apollon (Cyprus-Division A). What was your wake up call to being a rookie in europe where you knew that you were very far away from Clearwater, Flroida?
My wake up call definitely came in Latvia playing against teams like Zalgaris and CSKA in the VTB league. Even though my time with VEF was short lived I learned a lot about being a professional from EJ Rowland, who was the MVP of the VTB league that season. When I got to Cyprus I put what I learned to good use and helped a struggling team make it to the playoffs.
You played at Florida State from 2008-2012 playing a total of 146 NCAA games. What was your sweetest memory from winning the ACC tournament in 2012? Even many years later do you ever take a moment to remember the wins against North Carolina in 2009 and Duke in 2011? Which was more sweeter for you?
My sweetest memory was setting the assists record of the ACC Championship game in 2012. To win a championship is something every athlete strives for. My second favorite memory is beating Duke at Duke on a last second buzzer beater.
When you were a freshman future NBA player Toney Douglas was a senior. What memories do you have of being his teammate? What vital things did you learn from him as a freshman on and off the court?
Toney was a great mentor to me my freshman year on the court. His work ethic and approach to everyday was at a professional level while he was still I college.
How did head coach Leonard Hamilton groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Hamilton taught me many things while I played at Florida State, but the most important thing he taught me is to take full advantage of every opportunity that comes your way in life. Not every great opportunity is handed to you, sometimes you have to take your situation and turn it from average to great.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Michael Snaer?
*I’ll have to be honest, Mike would beat me more than I would beat him in one on one. He is an exceptional one on one player and my strengths lie more in team ball. We had some great battles back in the day.
What is the state of Lebron James in 2015? Do you feel that he will ever be mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan?
He already is mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan. I think Lebron will continue to be the most dominate player in the world for the next few years. Only time will tell if he will go down as someone who is mentioned on the same pedestal as Jordan.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Mission Impossible Rogue Nation.
Thanks Luke for the chat.