How much better Lucas can be he has since shown, in a tough December schedule that started out with four games in seven nights and included five road games against first-rank teams.
In those first nine games Lucas sank shots at a .612 average, despite his poor start (among the hot-handed pros .452 is the best ever recorded by a scoring champion). He made 50 of 63 free throws, including 25 in a row. He had 158 rebounds for an average of 17.5, and scored 252 points for a 28-point average.
How he has achieved these statistics is, as usual, far more important than the figures themselves. He may well be the smoothest and most graceful man his size playing basketball today, all his moves recalling the fluidity of professionals like Willie Naulls and Cliff Hagan. Against Kentucky he awed the basketball-wise Lexington crowd with his amazing repertoire of shots, most of which are not guardable. He hooks accurately with both hands, takes a full-spin one-handed jumper and drives well. A sequence of shots in the Kentucky game included this variety: tip-in on follow-up, spin from circle, spin again, hook from side, driving layup. In the pivot he hands off with precision to cutting Guards Larry Siegfried or Mel Nowell, often merely opening his hands and dropping the ball into perfect position for them as they scoot by and under him. Against a zone defense which double-teams him, his feints repeatedly draw defenders away from the ball, leaving one of his forwards, Joe Roberts, John Havlicek or Dick Furry, free for a shot. And if the shooter misses, the chances are Lucas will be there to tip in the loose ball.
If there is a soft spot in Lucas' game it is on defense, though he has far outclassed every pivotman he has faced this year (many of them taller than he) with the exception of Utah's fine 6-foot-9 sophomore, Billy McGill. Lucas scored 32 points against McGill, and both snared 17 rebounds, but McGill did hit for 31, chiefly with a hook shot that is often erratic but never seemed to miss against Ohio State. Actually, it is common for a player who is his team's best shooter in high school to arrive at his college campus with only the barest of notions about defense. The reason is that many high school coaches, who seldom have more than one reliable scorer, caution the good shooter to lay off his man considerably on defense in order to avoid fouling out of games. Lucas", it is worth noting, never fouled out of a high school game. He shares this defensive weakness with most of the other members of this year's remarkably good crop of sophomores. In the next few years Lucas will be playing against many of them, and a quick look at some is in order here.
's over-all game is as erratic as his hook shot. Often Billy just isn't "ready," as his coach, Jack Gardner, puts it. A towering, loose-jointed conglomeration of ebony arms and legs, McGill is flustered easily and often throws the ball away with bad passes. But he rebounds and blocks shots well and his outside shooting has helped bring his present average up to a very respectable .477.
Len Chappell and Billy Packer
of Wake Forest are two other fine rookies. Chappell seems to have every qualification for stardom except sufficient aggressiveness and is also having difficulty adjusting to the contact lenses he now wears in place of the glasses he wore in high school. Packer is a fast, deceptive playmaker and excellent shooter,
has brought Cincinnati, the nation's top-rated team, a great deal of offensive and rebounding strength, and in the same Missouri Valley Conference Bradley boasts a tall 200-pounder named
who hit 44, 33 and 34 points in his first three games this season. Kansas has WAYNE HIGHTOWER, a graduate of the same high school that sent it Wilt Chamberlain. He is not nearly as tall, as fast or as overpowering as Wilt, but does rebound well and has a greater variety of shots. An exceptional list of other sophomore stars includes Santa Clara's RON McGEE, VPI's BUCKY KELLER, Providence's JIMMY HADNOT, Texas A&M's CARROLL BROUSSARD and USC's JOHN RUDOMETKIN. If it weren't for Lucas, all of them would be candidates for rookie of the year.