University of Kansas

Former Kansas power forward Landen Lucas pursuing NBA career at 25: ‘I am not done’

Lucas: 2018-19 similar to Andrew Wiggins KU team

Former Kansas big man Landen Lucas talks about the similarities between the 2018-19 and the 2013-14 Kansas Jayhawks — the team he played on his freshman year.
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Former Kansas big man Landen Lucas talks about the similarities between the 2018-19 and the 2013-14 Kansas Jayhawks — the team he played on his freshman year.

Now completely healthy after spending injury-shortened seasons in Japan and Estonia, Landen Lucas is resuming his quest to play in the NBA.

“I am not done,” Lucas, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound, 25-year-old former University of Kansas basketball power forward, said with a smile Thursday at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Portland native was back in town chatting with media members about his Sports For Life Foundation, his new insurance platform, “Seeker,” and, of course, his hoops career.

“I am going to pursue the NBA, whatever route that is,” said Lucas, who was not selected in the 2017 NBA Draft. He competed for the Boston Celtics summer-league team in July of 2017 in both Utah and Las Vegas, ultimately getting cut in the 2017-18 preseason.

Rehab from a nagging foot injury prevented Lucas for competing in the NBA summer league in 2018.

Instead he eventually was off to Estonia where he averaged 8.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game for BC Kalev/Cramo in limited action.

“If it works out, great. If it doesn’t, I have other things to do, too, so I’m excited about that,” said Lucas, whose pro career started with Alvark Tokyo in 2017-18. “Probably in a couple months I’ll be able to really focus on that (NBA) and make sure this time around I’m doing my rehab right and am available to those (NBA) teams this summer.”

Lucas — who plans on working out in Portland and Lawrence as his Seeker business (a one-stop look at various insurance companies and their rates) starts running in both cities — will ultimately head to Los Angeles to train in advance of summer league with a yet-to-be-determined NBA team.

KU fans will get a chance to see how the NBA free agent is playing in late July when he’ll be competing for a KU alumni entry in The Basketball Tournament.

Former KU guard Elijah Johnson soon will announce KU’s plans to enter the single-elimination national tourney. The Jayhawks will play in a Wichita Regional on July 25-28 with teams from Kansas State, Wichita State and other schools.

“I’m happy to be part of it,” Lucas said. “I don’t know how it will fit in with summer league. If there’s any availability, I’m excited to play with those guys.”

Lucas likes the team’s prospects.

“We can put together a pretty good team especially recently with guys who have gone overseas to play like Mario (Chalmers) and Elijah,” Lucas said. “We can put together a nice eight, nine guys. I wouldn’t mind splitting $2 million (prize money to the one winning team). Also (there’s) bragging rights for Kansas after losing to K-State and the Big 12 this year. It’ll be helpful to redeem ourselves.”

Lucas was back in Lawrence a lot last winter after exiting Estonia. He attended some KU games. The Jayhawks (26-10, 12-6 Big 12) finished third in the league after claiming the conference title an NCAA record 14 years in a row.

“It reminded me a lot of my freshman year. We had a talented team with Joel (Embiid), Andrew (Wiggins), Tarik (Black) and all of them but it was tough because we went through a lot of ups and downs (en route to 25-10 record, 14-4 in Big 12: good for first place). There wasn’t a group of guys there before to pull us along,” Lucas said. “This year there were a lot of guys who tried to be that (leader), but it takes a lot.

“They did what they could. It was still fun to watch. We get spoiled as fans. We’ve won all the time. They still had a successful season. It was tough seeing us end the streak and obviously seeing it go to a team like K-State (champs with Texas Tech), but it was bound to happen at some point.”

Lucas said the important thing is for returning players to “learn from it. That’s one thing we did, especially after my sophomore year (KU won league title with 13-5 record). Guys like myself, Frank (Mason), Devonté (Graham) … we were able to bring new guys in on it. There’s a group of young kids who were a part of this, got a ton of experience. This ends up being good for them even though it was in a year that was up and down. They got what they needed and can really apply that. Just embrace it all and have fun next year.”

Lucas is asking fans to share in the fun by supporting him in the upcoming “Over the Edge” event June 1 in downtown Lawrence. He, KU football coach Les Miles and others will rappel the 888 Lofts Building in exchange for donations. The event is sponsored by Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence.

So far Lucas has raised $550 of his goal of $10,000.

“I am not really fond of going over the edge of a building, especially at my size,” Lucas said. “I’m not quite sure how it’ll go. Not many people my size are doing this. I always want to make sure everything is secure and safe before I go over the edge of a building. If it’s something going toward a good cause I think I’ll do it.”

His foundation the past two years has provided equipment and scholarship money for more than 100 local youths.

“Sports help kids have an outlet, get away from their problems a little bit. If we can help with that and help provide for their future, that’s awesome. It continues to grow,” Lucas stated of his foundation.

And of his new insurance platform, Lucas explained: “It’s kind of a matchmaking service for finding insurance. We created a two-sided platform in each city we launch. We sign the agents similar to what Uber does with drivers and connect them with consumers. We’re able to do so in a manner it keeps your information private and we can get you quotes (from companies) in a timely manner.”

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