PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Every spring, dozens of college basketball teams compete in the NCAA tournament known as March Madness and Oregon has produced many of the players who have taken part in the games.
One of those Oregon-born athletes is 25-year-old Landen Lucas.
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound professional basketball player hails from Portland. He started his high school career at Sunset High School, moved to Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada his junior year and finished his senior season back at Portland’s Westview High School.
After graduating, Lucas signed on to play for the University of Kansas. He stepped onto the court for his first March Madness appearance as a freshman in 2014, where he scored two points in two minutes against Stanford.
“It was awesome for us, I mean, as a team it brings you together,” said Lucas. “You get to experience it, watch the other games when you’re not playing, and it was definitely one of the most fun times for me.”
The spring of 2017 brought a bittersweet end to Lucas’s college basketball career. As the starting center for the number-one seed Jayhawks, his tea lost to the Oregon Ducks in the Elite Eight.
It was a painful loss as Lucas’s last college game was against the team he had watched as a fan growing up. His dad, Richard Lucas, had even played for the U of O.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t work out well for us,” Lucas said. “But it was very big for me to play against that team as my last game.”
After Kansas, Lucas played in the Celtics Summer League and then professionally in Japan and Russia. Lucas, whose dad also played professional basketball in Japan, spent many of his younger years in the country and speaks fluent Japanese.
Today, Lucas still loves March Madness but the time he spent training for it has changed his perspective.
“Growing up, it was just fun. I wanted to see all the top teams get beat. I wanted to see all the upsets and whatnot,” said Lucas. “But then, after going through it myself, I started to realize — man, it’s tough, you know? You got a whole season worth of work that is now coming down to one night.”
Lucas is a busy guy off the court. He started a foundation in Kansas that helps pay for kids to play sports that he hopes to bring to Portland. Lucas also recently co-founded and launched a company called “Seeker” that helps people find the best insurance rates.