Lucas will take his time with transfer

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 7, 2008 

Former Florida guard Jai Lucas does not expect to commit to a new school until late December.

First he must complete the fall semester so he can transfer his eligibility as well as his basketball talent.

During a telephone conversation Thursday, Lucas gave two possible hints.

First, he said, he wanted to play "somewhat close to home." He's from Houston. Does that mean Oklahoma State, his older brother John's alma mater and one of Jai's finalists two years ago, might be in prime position?

Lucas said it was "really difficult" being in Gainesville, Fla., and far from home.

Second, Lucas wants to play, and he knows Kentucky, another finalist from two years ago, continues to groom a freshman point guard in DeAndre Liggins. Plus the Cats will have a senior point guard in Michael Porter in 2009-10 and incoming freshman G.J. Vilarino.

"I'm aware of all that," Lucas said of UK's point guard options.

Coming out of high school, Lucas was often mentioned with Patrick Patterson in a recruiting package deal. For what it's worth, the two haven't been in contact for months. Lucas said he had not talked to UK's star big man since last season.

At this early stage, Lucas is not being picky.

"Every school is attractive to me," he said. "I want to go where I'm wanted and needed and can help."

Lucas lost that feeling at Florida. He played well enough last season to make the All-Southeastern Conference freshman team. He averaged 8.5 points and 2.3 assists. He made 43.5 percent of his three-point shots.

But Florida had two promising freshman point guards. The other, Nick Calathes, did better.

Whatever concerns Lucas had about his role as Florida's point guard probably were heightened by Monday night's exhibition game. Calathes, an All-SEC pre-season pick, scored eight points and handed out nine assists. Lucas, who played more shooting guard than he liked, made one of nine shots (one of six from three-point range).

The next day, Lucas announced he would transfer.

When asked whether moving off the point guard position played a role in his decision to leave Florida, Lucas said, "Yeah, that was a big part of it. That's where I'm best and most comfortable. I got moved off the ball a lot this year. It started happening at the end of last year."

Lucas did not lash out at Florida Coach Billy Donovan. The player said he understood how a coach must think.

"It's not like coach hates me," Lucas said. "He just thinks it's better for the team. I understand that."

But Lucas is a point guard to the deepest part of his basketball core. His father, John Lucas, was an All-America point guard at Maryland and an NBA standout. Older brother John played point guard for a Final Four team at Oklahoma State.

"I don't know any other position," Jai Lucas said.

Lucas noted that he cannot speak with any other school until he gets his release, which he expected to receive on Friday. He'll apparently have plenty of options.

His father said the family had been "inundated" with calls from college programs.

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