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- Published on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 18:13
Elk City's Lewallen making himself known in the AAU basketball world, finishes summer with Oklahoma Impact
Daily Elk Citian
Flash back to the first round of the 4A area basketball tournament in Chickasha this past February.
The Elk City High School boys squad fell to a bigger, more talented Cache team, but there remained a bright spot, which had shone its light all season long for the Elks.
It was Luke Lewallen, then a sophomore, who poured in 19 points in the game, prompting former ECHS basketball coach Garrette Mantle to submit a statement alluding to the Big Elk basketball player’s future.
“Luke had a tremendous year for us and he’s just going to get better, the sky is the limit for him.”
Lewallen, now a 6-foot-4 inch, 180-pound junior continues to make Mantle’s prediction look better and better. It starts with his play this summer for Oklahoma Impact, a highly-regarded Amateur Athletic Union team out of Oklahoma City.
The Big Elk junior said he found out about the program through a direct invite he received from Impact head coach Christopher Myers, who received a tip from Mantle about Lewallen.
“[Myers] asked me to come and play for a weekend with [Impact] and I played that one time, so he asked me to be on the team,” Lewallen said. “It’s been way more difficult than high school. Players are just more athletic… they’re from everywhere all over the country.”
His summer coach has been impressed thus far. Myers played college basketball at Texas Wesleyan University and began the Impact AAU program three years ago, leading it to a 80-32 record since its inception.
The AAU head coach won’t let a kid play on his team unless he carries a 3.0 GPA, something Lewallen had no problem with, considering he sports a 4.0.
Oh, and he isn’t too shabby on the basketball end either, Myers said.
“Luke is a kid who can play multiple positions. He handles it well and rebounds very well for us. He shoots the ball extremely well [from the 3-point line] and doesn’t mind banging inside. Has a good midrange game.”
Those basketball tools have drawn interest from the University of Portland and University of San Francisco in the Elk City shooting guard. No known scholarship offers have been made, but the interest is legit, Myers said.
“[University of Portland] came to Dallas and Luke scored 12 to 15 points a game. Our team didn’t play well, but the Portland coach came up to me and said, ‘Luke changed that.’”
AAU ball’s unofficial purpose is to provide a way for high school basketball players to gain exposure on the recruiting circuit. Many tournaments happen during the NCAA’s evaluation period, a time which college coaches can watch high school players in person.
Impact competed in the grandaddy of them all this past weekend — the Adidas Super 64 tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. Coaches from all over the country, more specifically from the west coast, flock to the event every year. The team went 2-3 against stiff national competition, but tended to beat themselves, Myers said. Lewallen scored 9, 12, 14, 7, and 5 points respectively in the tournament.
It’s that kind of visibility that players can enjoy playing for Oklahoma Impact. Since the program’s beginning, Myers claims a 100 percent success rate when it comes to players moving on to college basketball careers.
“It’s hard, because I only have one team and I have about 80 kids a year ask to play. I have to pick eight or nine who fit what I’m looking for. When I went to watch Luke, I was drawn to him. I respect the kid a lot.”
As the second youngest player on the Impact team, Lewallen competes with Oklahoma standouts like Seth Youngblood (Roland) and Kade Jacobs (Edmond Santa Fe). The competition against players he won’t meet along Interstate 40 is invaluable, Lewallen said.
“It’s been a challenge, but I think it’s really going to help me out.”
He is also grateful for the job Myers does. In addition to receiving attention from Portland and San Francisco, the University of Rice has also shown interest recently. Above all, he realizes the skills he’s learning this summer on the AAU circuit should help him, as well as the Big Elks in the future.
“Going to play with all these people who are as good if not better than me… It gets me ready for what we’ll have this season for basketball. We have to work on some things, but I think [ECHS] can do it. We have the people for it.”