SANTA MARIA - Former Allan Hancock College men's basketball standout, Diego Lucas, has signed a professional contract overseas to play for BLE Juevecaserta in Italy. The organization competes as one of the "Serie C" teams within the EuroBasket League, which is a branch of the FIBA Europe organization.
"When I first started at AHC, I did not know what to expect on this new journey. I had lived in Italy my whole life, attending Italian schools and playing European basketball, so adjusting to the American school system during my first year was quite a challenge. The two years I spent at Allan Hancock completely changed my life perspective. My vision for my future as a student-athlete got wider and made me hungrier for success. Academically, AHC is a great environment to be in and I am proud of myself for earning my Associate Degree in Business Administration from Hancock. " Lucas shared.
He also added, "Being on the basketball team was the best time of my life and everyone made me believe in myself, even during the tough times. I would not change that experience for anything in this world. Basketball at AHC is a very organized and disciplined system, and you could clearly see that we were a winning program. AHC prepared me to be successful in life, to be disciplined and respectful to others, and how to work hard toward my goals."
Lucas averaged 7.8 points and 3.0 assists per game his sophomore year at Hancock while shooting .842 from the free throw line and .373 from 3-point range. He scored 10 or more points in 11 games, including a season-high showing of 17 points in a win over L.A. Southwest. The Italy native also chipped in 12 points during the Bulldogs' first-round playoff victory over San Diego Miramar in 2019.
"Every student-athlete's dream is to go 'DI', and that was my dream too. For some of us, in order to reach that goal, we need to take a different route and the JUCO route is one of them. Academically, attending a junior college will definitely prepare you well before transferring to a four-year school. They'll teach you how to organize yourself and give you different tips and tools to use at your next school," Lucas stated.
The 5-foot-11 guard led the Bulldogs with a 44.5 shooting percentage from 3-point range during his freshman season. Lucas finished his Hancock career 53-for-131 from 3-point range with a .405 shooting percentage from distance.
"My advice to future Bulldogs would be to trust the process and control what you can control: attitude and effort. Both attitude and effort make a huge difference on and off the court and those two characteristics play a big role in the first impression you will give to anyone. Be respectful towards your coaches, staff, and teammates," Lucas shared. "On another note, if you want to avoid extra running while playing for Coach Aye you need to learn your emphasis for the day and study the scout because he will ask you some trick questions. Also, box out!"
After completing two seasons with the Bulldogs, Lucas opted to continue his academic and athletic career at the University of Saint Mary in Kansas. After redshirting his first season with the Spires, Lucas went on to lead the team with 14.2 points per game during the 2020-21 season. He then closed his senior campaign earlier this year tied for second amongst teammates with 9.5 points per game while also recording 1.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Lucas registered seven 20+ point performance games career at USM, including a career-high mark of 38 points against Bellevue (Neb.) in October 2020. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems, which a focus on Cyber Security, in May.
"I want to thank Coach Aye for giving me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Being a part of the AHC program was a complete life changer for me. Moving to the US, having the chance to grow as a man, and being part of such a winning program has impacted my life forever. I am very grateful for Coach Aye and the way that he believed in me. I also want to thank Coach Amaurys for the role that he played while I was there. He was like a big brother to me, always giving me great advice on the court and being goofy off the court. I also need to give a shoutout to Coach Vick, Coach Josh (aka Coach 'Boxout'), Coach Coop, and finally Coach Gary West - one of the hardest workers I know! Thank you all for helping me be the man and basketball player that I am today."
(Shelby Scott, Allan Hancock College)