As the Seminoles continue their victorious ways through Spain, there are still a number of questions about who will assume the court leadership position vacated by Toney Douglas. Ryan Reid is the only Senior on the time, and while he is a respected member of the team and it is likely that his production will significantly increase, his position and disposition are not the ideal combination to run the show.
Fortunately for the Seminoles, there are a plethora of guards on the team who will have the opportunity to take on the responsibility of leading this team, hopefully to another NCAA appearance. The player who will take on a significant amount of that responsibility is Luke Loucks. In fact, the opening sentence to Loucks's Seminoles.com Profile page is: "In line to be the next great point guard at Florida State with his incredible court vision and ability to get all of his teammates involved in every possession.."
Image from here.
Also, take a look inside for some outstanding news about Solomon Alabi.
Loucks was recruited out of Clearwater, Florida by Andy Enfield and Leonard Hamilton. A four star recruit and the 13th point guard overall, Loucks selected the Seminoles over Georgia Tech, Michigan, Pitt, USF, Wake Forest, St. Josephs and UCF. During his high school career, Loucks not only excelled at basketball. He was named to the PCAC All-County Team twice and set a school record throwing for 423 yards in a game during his junior year. Loucks's leadership skills on the football field translated to the basketball court, serving as team captain during his Sophomore, Junior and Senior season. His senior year, he averaged 13.5 points per game, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, all while shooting 60% from the floor. Prior to starting his career at Florida State, Loucks clearly excelled at and enjoyed the responsibilities of being a leader. As an aside, Loucks's Dad, Lincoln was a walk on to the football team in the 80's.
On first glance, Luke's numbers during his first season do not jump off the page. However, he was playing in the shadow of Toney Douglas and Derwin Kitchen, to a lesser extent. He finished the year averaging 3.1 points, 2.1 assists and 0.9 steals. However, he played in all 35 games, starting 2 of them. The only other true freshman to earn a starts this year was Chris Singleton. At the Seminoles Men's Basketball Honors Banquet, he earned the first-year academic achievement award. And yes, he is the primary blogger for the Seminoles' tip to Spain.
Please refer to my recent post about Solomon Alabi for explanations of the upcoming statistical analysls. While we're on the subject of Solomon Alabi, he was named as a pre-season candidate for the Wooden Award.This is an outstanding accomplishment for Solomon and demonstrates the national attention he is going to receive this year. Solomon has the talent to be an elite player at the national level.
The following stats will be presented in the same format as the Alabi article: Offensive Rating (ORtg), effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%), Turn Over % (TO%) and Offensive Rebound % (OReb%). Clearly some of these stats do not apply well to the evaluation of a guard, similar to the article about Alabi. They simply serve as a common language to use in evaluation. More guard specific data will be presented.
There is clearly a significant decline in the slope of Loucks's ORtg line. Clearly, one would like to see progression, to borrow a term, than regression during the season. But, there are a few games in which Loucks played only a handful of minutes and took a limited number of shots. This clearly destroyed his ORtg. In the games in which Loucks had the higher ratings, he typically averaged 5 field goal attempts per game. The lows typically are associated with games in which he shot 0 to 1 field goal attempt. With Toney Douglas running the floor next to you or David Dulkys standing in the corner or Solomon Alabi posting up, one should not have expected Luke to put up that many shots. Loucks's better games were also associated with higher assist numbers, meaning he was getting involved in the offense in the way I hope he will next year. While this may appear to be a red flag for next year, keep in mind Loucks's limited minutes and the fact that ORtg is calculated by the following formula: (Points Produced/Individual Possessions) x 100. Points produced includes field goals, free throws, assists and offensive rebounds. Possessions include the sum of a player's scoring possessions (field goals, free throws, plus partial credit for assists), missed field goals and free throws that the defense rebounds, and turnovers. A freshman playing limited minutes at the point position does not set up well for basing talent or potential production soley based on the ORtg. If he played a larger role in the offense and played significantly more minutes, it is an aboslutely fair statistic to use for comparisson.
Four Factors Evaluation
Again, due to limited minutes at the end of the season, Loucks's stats suffered. If you only have two possessions and turn the ball over on one, your TO% will be a terrible 50%. Take these stats with a grain of salt and do not worry. Loucks showed moments of brilliance during the season. His understanding of the offense improved as the year went on. Loucks's job will be to run the offense and distribute the ball to Alabi, Snaer, Singleton, Dulkys and so on.
Clearly, these stats do not tell the whole story here. There are two very promising numbers to look at from last year: Assist Rate (ARate) and Steal Percentage. Loucks had an ARate of 23.7. Meaning on 23.7% of shots taken while he was on the floor, he delivered the assist. This ranked 273rd in the country. Toney Douglas had an ARate of 20.2. One can look at this as what percentage of distributing a player does for his team. This is promising. Additionally, Loucks had a Steal % of 3.1%. Toney Douglas, our defensive hero, had a Steal % of 2.9. The Steal % reflects the percentage of the opponents possessions that resulted in a steal while your player is on the floor.
Loucks is able to distribute and is able to play defense. In the offseason, Loucks has worked significantly on his quickness and in fact looks as if he has changed his body type, moving from a very muscular football build to an efficient basketball build. Here is a nice story from Corey Clark about that.
While the numbers don't jump out, there are hints of Loucks's potential. With his natural leadership skills, athletic ability and toughness, Loucks is ready to lead this team. This may not be the most convincing argument. However, if you had the opportunity to watch any of the games during the 2008-2009 season, you will remember some of the flashes that Luke demonstrated. We are also going to have a huge back court with Loucks and Snaer, both measuring at about 6'5 with very different skill sets. I hope I'm not eating my words at the end of the season, but I look forward to Loucks blossoming during the season.