Lucas makes City View relevant on court
Austin Lucas rarely puts up a shot he doesn’t think is going to fall.
Plenty of them do go in, which is why the City View senior continues to be the Wichita Falls area’s leading scorer, averaging 24.8 points per game.
But his importance to the Mustangs’ basketball program goes beyond mere scoring. Lucas has made the Mustangs relevant again on the court, leading them to their first playoff berth since 2005 last season and hoping to replicate that feat in 2018.
“Last season meant a lot to me, getting to the playoffs,” said Lucas, who transferred to City View from Burkburnett before his junior year. “They weren’t used to winning, but I felt like I could help the team. I thought if we could play the style of basketball that we played, then we would succeed and win a lot of games.”
Lucas admits the fact that City View hadn’t experienced recent success on the court caused some apprehension when he was deciding to change schools. He was going to be on the varsity team at Burkburnett and would have likely gotten some playing time on a very good team.
He had also just come off a strong sophomore campaign on the Burk junior varsity during which he scored 38 points in a single game.
Family was the ultimate factor in his decision to transfer.
“To be honest, I was worried about not winning when I got here,” Lucas said. “I was used to winning a lot of games. I came here because I wanted to play with my cousin (Jeremiah Lucas). We grew up playing together and have always been close. He’s more like a brother than a cousin.”
Jeremiah is a junior guard for the Mustangs and has a younger brother, Jordan, on the junior varsity. Their presence in the program made it easier for Lucas to transition to his new surroundings, but it didn’t hurt that he also had a relationship with City View coach Bobby Morris.
Morris is in his second season leading the Mustangs, but has known Lucas since he was in junior high. Being a Burkburnett grad himself, Morris was familiar with Lucas’ skill set and demeanor, knowing he could help the team, but not realizing just what type of impact Lucas could ultimately have.
“I had seen him at JV games, but I never could have expected this,” Morris said. “It’s just a different speed of game so you never know how someone is going to react. I think the speed of the game actually helped him kind of. He’s better with the ball in his hands than I expected. He’s been a program changer.”
In his first season, Lucas led the Mustangs with 15.2 points per game as they finished with a 15-16 overall record, including a 7-7 District 8-3A mark. The Mustangs fell in the opening round of the postseason to eventual state runner-up Brock.
Lucas also had 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game, while knocking down 63 of 163 3-pointers.
“I feel like I could have scored more last season, but Tamell (Monroe) and I shared the ball a lot more,” said Lucas, whose points per game have increased almost 10 from his junior season. “I was fine with that. It was the best thing for the team. Coach has given me the green light this year and I’ve taken it. I’m shooting a lot more.”
He’s making a lot more, too. Lucas has already drained 89 3-pointers this season, shooting 40 percent from behind the arc. With more than 200 shots from long distance, Lucas isn’t shy about launching it.
“My dad told me he never saw a shot that he didn’t like,” Lucas said. “Obviously I go by that rule, too. There’s a couple shots I’ve taken and I think, “Aw, why’d I shoot that?’ But it happened, and I’m going to come back and keep shooting.”
Lucas is also averaging 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 4.2 steals per game, but it’s his 24.8-point-per-game average that has garnered him recognition across the area. Lucas does acknowledge it’s because of his circumstance that he’s able to lead the area in scoring.
“Honestly, it doesn’t really mean much to be the leading scorer in the area. The reason I’m able to score that many points is because my teammates trust me with the ball,” Lucas said. “Over at Burk, I know I wouldn’t be scoring like this because they have more guys who can score. We do have guys who can score here, but these guys also give me the ball and trust me to shoot the shots that I shoot. There probably isn’t another team or coach I could play for that would trust me to shoot the shots that I shoot. I’d probably get benched.”
Earlier this season, Lucas went off for 41 points in a tournament game against Petrolia. It’s the most points scored by a player that has been reported in the Wichita Falls area this season.
“Honestly, I didn’t know I scored 41 points,” Lucas said. “It just didn’t feel like I scored that many.”
The Mustangs (14-8, 2-4) currently sit in a four-way tie for fourth place in District 8-3A along with Henrietta, Paradise and Jacksboro. They play those three teams over their next three games, meaning much of their playoff fortune could be decided over the next week.
Lucas believes the Mustangs have what it takes to get back to the postseason, but also notes that this team must fight harder than last year’s version.
“We have no size at all,” Lucas said. “Our tallest player is like 6-foot and Jayln (Marks) has been playing point guard for us. He’s been playing (forward) a lot more lately, but we’re still the smallest team in the district. We knew we were coming into this season with no size.”
The Mustangs tend to go as far as Lucas takes them, which gives them a shooter’s chance. On any given night, Lucas might get hot and that makes the Mustangs very tough to beat.