Luke Hancock has come a long way.
He was not a big-time player coming out of high school in 2008.
In fact, because no D-I schools offered him a scholarship by the time he graduated, Hancock went to Hargrave Military Academy in hopes of snaring something from somewhere.
Now, after two solid years at George Mason, and sitting out one more following his transfer to Louisville, Luke Hancock may be exactly what Rick Pitino needs to get the Cardinals ready to win it all at the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Louisville was good last year. They went 30-10, won the Big East Tournament and made it to the 2012 Final Four.
But Hancock's importance to this year's team was made official two weeks after the Cardinals lost to Kentucky in the national semi-finals. He, along with starting PG Peyton Siva, were named as co-captains for the 2012-13 season. Surprised?
You wouldn't be if you knew how Pitino views him:
"Luke Hancock has been great this year. He's our best basketball player. He's mentally the best player on the team and physically the best player on the team. He's a true basketball player in every sense of the word."
Since coming to the Derby City, the 6'6" 200-lb wing has done nothing but build on what he started at GMU.
He averaged 10.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and a team-high 4.3 assists as a sophomore in helping George Mason post a 27-7 record and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2010-11.
Hancock connected on 49.4 percent from the field, 35.9 percent from three-point range and 81 percent at the free-throw line.
For all practical purposes, he will take on the role that Kyle Kuric filled last year. Kuric led the Cardinals in scoring (12.6 ppg), minutes (36 mpg) and was their primary outside shooter (attempted 231 three-pointers).
However, Hancock's total game is better than Kuric's.
He is a solid playmaker from the wing, evidenced by his 239 assists at George Mason. Kuric dropped 102 dimes in four years at U of L.
There's also a good chance that he will knock down a better percentage of shots from beyond the arc than Kuric did (32.9 percent).
The Cardinals are going to be very talented and very deep.
Pitino will have a myriad of lineup and rotation options.
Peyton Siva and Russ Smith will be tough as nails. Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan will rule the paint. A full year of Wayne Blackshear?...Nice!
But, write it down.
Luke Hancock will be Louisville's leading scorer, their Mr. Clutch (he made a game-winning three against Villanova in the 2011 NCAA Tournament) and the guy who leads the way back to the Final Four and...Who knows?
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