Lucas says he's happy in Stillwater
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Former Baylor guard John Lucas III attended his first day of classes at Oklahoma State on Tuesday, just a day after announcing his transfer from the beleaguered Waco, Texas, school.
"I'm glad I'm here," Lucas said following Tuesday afternoon classes at the Stillwater campus. "I love the campus, and I love the coaching staff. Coach (Eddie) Sutton is a wonderful coach. I think he can get me over the hump to get me to the next level, and also to make me a better player."
The 5-foot-11 junior announced his transfer from Baylor on Monday after the Big 12 said earlier in the day that Baylor players transferring to other league schools wouldn't lose a season of eligibility.
Baylor President Robert Sloan Jr. offered all players a release from their scholarships Aug. 8 when he announced major violations had been found in the basketball program.
Coach Dave Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton resigned after allegations surfaced of improper payments to players following the disappearance of junior Patrick Dennehy. Dennehy's body was found July 25, and former Baylor player Carlton Dotson is charged with murder.
The school placed itself on a two-year probation and won't participate in any postseason tournaments next season, including the Big 12 tournament.
Lucas, who visited the Stillwater campus over the weekend, talked with new Baylor coach Scott Drew recently, but couldn't be convinced to stay with the prospect of not playing in the postseason.
"(Drew) was the right coach at the wrong time," his father, former NBA coach and player John Lucas, Jr., told The Associated Press Tuesday evening. "I think he really liked coach Drew, but two years of probation just didn't work for John. We really just needed to get John in school somewhere."
Lucas also wanted a chance to play at a school that was excited about its program _ Baylor traditionally ranks among the worst Big 12 schools in home attendance.
"He wanted to play for the best and the Big 12 has the best," his father said. "And, you know, there's only two basketball campuses in the Big 12 _ Kansas and Oklahoma State."
"Stillwater has a tremendous college atmosphere," the younger Lucas said. "Everyone is ready for the upcoming season in all sports. That's what I want to be a part of. It's a new beginning for me. I also feel like I can really help this team."
Lucas, who started 52 of 58 games at Baylor over the past two seasons, averaged 13.3 points, 4.3 assists and two turnovers a game last year. He was fourth in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio, sixth in assists and 13th in steals.
One of his best games last season came at Oklahoma State, with Lucas scoring 20 points in a 74-72 upset of the 13th-ranked Cowboys on Feb. 15.
"One of the things that impressed me was how hard he played when he played against (Oklahoma State)," coach Eddie Sutton said. "After he made his visit last weekend, I was so impressed with him as a person. I think he will be a great asset to our program."
Lucas will likely take over the Cowboys' starting spot at point guard, a position vacated by senior Victor Williams.
Since Oklahoma State has no scholarships available this year, Lucas will play on the team as a walk-on. The team plans to have Lucas on scholarship for his senior season.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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