Kansas forward Landen Lucas has a goal of developing his offensive game in his final season, and luckily for him, he hasn’t had to look far for help.
A former NBA first-round draft pick and 2005 first-team All-America selection also serves as the KU men’s basketball team’s chaplain … and Wayne Simien also hasn’t hesitated to offer direction after averaging 20.3 points in his final season at KU.
“Even this morning, I got a workout in (with him),” Lucas said Monday. “It’s good, because being able to pick his brain about just different moves and countermoves really just puts your mind at ease when you’re out there instead of overthinking things.”
A season ago, Lucas was content with a limited offensive role while focusing mostly on details like setting screens and rebounding. According to Hoop-Math.com, Lucas attempted only 21 mid-range jump shots in 36 games.
Lucas, who averaged 5.8 points, has extended his range to get in more 15-footers this summer.
“It can really help,” Lucas said. “We’ve got guys like Carlton (Bragg) and people who can knock down those shots. If it can go both ways, it can really open up the floor a lot.
“I know I’m capable of doing it. In high school, it was something was very comfortable with, and I’ve gotten away with that. Just getting more comfortable with it again is something I’m focusing on.”
Shooting was Simien’s specialty. Even recently, KU coach Bill Self has referred to Simien as one of the best pure scorers he’s had during his 13-year tenure.
“He has so many tips and tricks,” Lucas said, “that if I can really just get to scratch the surface of what he was able to do offensively, it could really help improve my game.”
Lucas says some of the motivation for a strong senior season comes from last year’s end. Villanova defeated KU, 64-59, in the Elite Eight before going on to win the national championship.
“Some people come up and they’re like, ‘At least you lost to the champions’ and stuff. When your goal is to do what the team that barely beat you did, I think it hurts,” Lucas said. “We know that we were very close to accomplishing our goals if we changed some things and ended up winning that game.”
Lucas still believes KU learned from its postseason run. The previous two years, the Jayhawks were knocked out in the round of 32 by Stanford and Wichita State.
“We really had the right mindset going into (last) postseason, going into each game,” Lucas said. “I want to make sure that this year finishes with no doubts or what-ifs in my mind.”