January 10, 2014

Lutes to fly with the Falcons

Kevin McCarthy

Sometimes, even though it is a notable achievement and the precursor to educational possibilities that offer life-changing ramifications, the selection of a college by a high school sports talent can be mystifying. Upon announcement, the question quickly forms: why there? Such isn't the case with Jesuit High's Lake Lutes who is Air Force-bound.

Yes, the Jesuit High and Nor Cal Pharaohs affiliated 6-foot-7 Lutes will be moving on to a much higher elevation in Colorado Springs but his process of determining where next for him was well grounded.

photo of  Lake Lutes

“I chose Air Force (AF) for many reasons, ” Lutes offered. “Attending Air Force offers a greater amount of benefits plus it's a great team in a strong conference with a great coach. ” It's worth noting that AF beat both UNLV and Utah State this weekend to open Mountain West Conference play.

He added, “Colorado Springs is beautiful.”

But another reason was a critical component in the equation of his decision.

“Air Force offered me a direct in, which eliminated a year at the Preparatory School. I felt if they have the confidence to have me go straight into the program, I am ready for the challenge.”

Air Force Prep School is a year-long off-campus commitment involving academics, military training and athletic development participation. The elimination of that element helped Lutes make his final pledge to the Air Force Basketball program and the academy.

He is also happy that his long commitment to academics has paid off.

“I've had a high standard all my life and my academics opened up a lot of doors for which I'm grateful.”

Lutes credits all who have coached him along the way, from middle school on, as good mentors.

“I've had great coaches. [Jesuit High] Coach [Greg] Harcos puts me in the right positions to succeed. (Nor Cal Pharaoh Coach) Jason Barton is a great guy. We still talk often.”

Yes, attending any service academy requires something extra but Lutes has the all-for-one, one-for-all mindset in place. When asked what he would deem as his best basketball skill, he said, “I've never been someone who would put on 50 moves and put up a shot. I come off screens and catch and shoot. I set my teammates up and they set me up.”

Not only that, his teammates stepped up when he struggled recently against Granite Bay. Then he did likewise with 23 points the next night against Salesian in another Father Barry Christmas Classic tournament matchup. “We're not only playing roles but stepping out of them when necessary.”

Lutes also recalled his initiation into basketball at the high school level after being a big fish in a small pond.

“I played junior varsity ball as a freshman and I thought I was seeing what varsity level basketball would be like.”

Little then did he realize.

“I found out the game [on the varsity level] is speeded up and there's no letup. The players are faster, stronger and better.”

So he became faster, stronger and better.

Jesuit hoops is receiving all sorts of accolades after a 14-0 start but Lutes still recalls last season “which was a learning experience.” The Marauders finished the 2012-13 season 13-14 overall, 4-6 in the Delta River League and, while not a pleasant experience, it was one of learning now being put to good use.

Whether or not he comes from a basketball family is something open to interpretation. His grandfather was quite the player back in his day but as Lutes put it, “we joke that basketball skipped a generation with my Dad.”