How Te’Jon Lucas left mark on BYU — and its history — with rest of senior group

Brigham Younger Cougars guard Te’Jon Lucas (3) and Brigham Younger Cougars guard Alex Barcello (13) discuss and snigger as the sport ends as BYU defeats Texas Southern in an NCAA basketball sport on the Marriott Heart in Provo on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. BYU gained 81-64. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret Information)

Estimated learn time: 6-7 minutes

PROVO — Te’Jon Lucas had barely heard of Brigham Younger College earlier than head coach Mark Pope and his employees contacted him about coming to Provo as a graduate switch.

He knew Pope, Chris Burgess, Cody Fueger and the remaining the employees from when the group tried to recruit him to Utah Valley the primary time he transferred, when he left Illinois and in the end ended up nearer to him at UW-Milwaukee. Clearly, Lucas’ response there was, “thanks, however no thanks.”

One thing clicked this time round, although, and the 6-foot-1, 187-pound level guard discovered himself flying out to Provo to decide to the college, nearly sight unseen. He met star guard Alex Barcello — who, like Lucas, was additionally a switch (from Arizona) and never a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the college’s sponsoring establishment — and the 2 turned quick associates.

But when Lucas was going to make this work, he did not wish to simply be a one-year mercenary, employed to play basketball, win some video games, perhaps make an NCAA Event look, and get out. He needed to study what BYU was all about — the college, the neighborhood, the tradition and never simply the basketball program.

So Lucas, typically accompanied by fellow switch Seneca Knight, visited a number of elements of campus after they weren’t at follow or at school. The duo famously rolled as much as the Smith Fieldhouse for ladies’s volleyball matches, cheered on the ladies’s soccer workforce as they put collectively the perfect season in program historical past, and sat courtside for ladies’s basketball after they weren’t making ready for their very own video games within the Marriott Heart.

If Lucas was going to be part of the college’s basketball program, he needed to be part of the campus neighborhood, too.

“One in all my coaches used to say ‘make each place your massive time,'” Lucas defined. “I simply needed to soak it in whereas I used to be right here, get pleasure from my second, and never simply be a basketball participant right here. I needed to expertise various things, go to completely different sports activities, discover the college, discover Utah; I’ve by no means been to Utah in my life. I did not wish to simply go to the MC and the Annex … however to soak within the second.

“You by no means know if you’ll be again to Utah, so I simply needed to soak it in the place ever I am at.”

Loyola Marymount guard Cam Shelton (20) defends Brigham Young guard Te'Jon Lucas (3) as Brigham Young Cougars plays Loyola Marymount Lions in an NCAA basketball game at Marriott Center in Provo, Feb. 24, 2022.
Loyola Marymount guard Cam Shelton (20) defends Brigham Younger guard Te’Jon Lucas (3) as Brigham Younger Cougars performs Loyola Marymount Lions in an NCAA basketball sport at Marriott Heart in Provo, Feb. 24, 2022. (Picture: Mengshin Lin, Deseret Information)

By way of all of it, Lucas has discovered a bit bit himself, and lots about BYU, about Provo, and about Utah. He is discovered a house in Utah County — one he hopes to go to once more after his closing sport within the Marriott Heart, which is Saturday in opposition to Pepperdine (6 p.m. MST, ESPNU).

And he is additionally been fairly good, averaging 10.8 factors, 4.7 assists and a couple of.3 rebounds per sport for a BYU workforce that continues to be on the NCAA Event bubble — simply exterior or simply inside, relying on which projection you seek the advice of — one week earlier than the West Coast Convention Event in Las Vegas.

Lucas is one in every of 4 seniors that shall be honored earlier than Saturday’s sport as a part of the Cougars’ senior night time festivities, and all however one in every of them began their careers elsewhere. Apart from Lucas and Barcello, the Arizona switch who was honored as a senior a yr in the past earlier than opting to benefit from one closing season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Orem Excessive product Richard Harward can even be honored as a senior after following Pope to BYU from Utah Valley.

Solely Gavin Baxter, the 6-foot-9, 228-pound ahead with a 7-foot wing span from Timpview Excessive, began his profession in Provo — and the oft-injured ahead may nonetheless go for one other season of eligibility, attributable to a mixture of COVID-19 and a rash of accidents suffered throughout his time with the Cougars.

Rather a lot continues to be unknown about seniors within the period of post-COVID eligibility and the switch portal. However one factor is definite for gamers like Lucas and Barcello.

“All I do know is I can say that this may undoubtedly be my final house sport in school basketball. There isn’t any likelihood I will be again subsequent yr,” stated Lucas, who shall be accompanied by his mom, grandmother and sister throughout senior night time. “I have been blessed to play at three nice universities, to play 5 years. So I simply wish to soak all of it in and benefit from the second.”

The Cougars (20-9, 8-6 WCC) went from an all-but assured NCAA Event workforce to the perimeters of the bubble with a four-game dropping streak and 5 losses of their final eight video games. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has BYU amongst on the surface fringe of the bubble, whereas CBS’ Jerry Palm lists the Cougars among the many First 4 groups in Dayton taking part in for a 12-seed.

With out Barcello, BYU is probably going a sub-.500 workforce. With out Lucas, they most likely aren’t significantly better. However each have meant extra to the college than simply basketball.

“He has given his coronary heart and soul to this college, and to this basketball program,” Pope stated of Barcello. “He has built-in himself into our setup in a powerful manner.

“He is a man with a giant coronary heart on this neighborhood. He is completed a lot service and a lot instance setting. … He is been an unimaginable ambassador for this college right here.”

Initially signed to Illinois, Lucas transferred again to his hometown of Milwaukee — the place he plans to someday open a neighborhood heart just like the one which gave him so many alternatives rising up — and starred within the Horizon League. When he graduated, he nonetheless had one yr of eligibility because of the pandemic.

After which he wound up in Provo, after additionally being recruited out of the switch portal by Utah, Nevada, DePaul and New Mexico State, amongst different colleges.

“He is bounced round, various occasions — went to 2 completely different excessive colleges and three completely different schools,” stated Anthony McHenry, Lucas’ AAU coach, in a “Deep Blue” characteristic on BYUtv. “And on the similar time, I believe each would say that he is a tremendously loyal particular person. However circumstances arose that had been exterior his management in each a type of conditions, and he had the braveness and willingness to step again and ask, ‘is that this proper for me?’ If the reply was no, he needed to go pursue what was the perfect alternative for him.”

He is additionally had the prospect to make a distinction, even in lower than twelve months. Lucas was a part of a groundbreaking beginning lineup in BYU basketball historical past, what’s believed to be the primary time a Beginning 5 didn’t characteristic a member of the college’s sponsoring religion, earlier than an 83-82 additional time win at Loyola Marymount.

The starters additionally included 4 Black student-athletes, which can also be believed to be a program first, in Lucas, Knight and African-born forwards Gideon George and Fousseyni Traore.

The workforce did not got down to make historical past with that beginning lineup. However the ramifications of it may have a big affect on this system — and the college — for years to come back.

“It was undoubtedly an honor. I believe it was nice to point out the variety now we have at BYU,” Lucas stated. “We have been speaking lots about variety and inclusion right here, and I believe it was an amazing second to point out that anyone — irrespective of your race or your perception — can come right here and achieve success, irrespective of your pores and skin coloration or your background. That is all we had been attempting to point out. We did not need it to be a giant deal about race; that is simply how the sport performed out.

“I am honored to be part of one thing particular like that. Hopefully it is simply the beginning of one thing that would probably change.”

Tips on how to watch, stream and pay attention

Pepperdine (7-23, 1-14 WCC) vs. BYU (20-9, 8-6 WCC)

Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022

Tipoff: 6 p.m. MT

TV: ESPNU (Eric Rothman, Dane Bradshaw)

Streaming: WatchESPN

Radio: BYU Radio 89.1 FM, KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM (Greg Wrubell, Mark Durrant)

Sequence: BYU leads, 19-10

Senior Evening: The Cougars will honor 4 seniors forward of Saturday’s finale regular-season house sport within the Marriott Heart — solely one in every of which began his profession at BYU:

  • Alex Barcello, G, Arizona (Chandler, Ariz.)
  • Te’Jon Lucas, G, UW-Milwaukee (Milwaukee, Wisc.)
  • Richard Harward, C, Utah Valley (Orem)
  • Gavin Baxter, F, Timpview HS (Provo)

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