Spotlight - Lucas Nugteren

Lucas Nugteren

LANGLEY, British Columbia - Spartans centre Lucas Nugteren knows all about hard work.

He grew up near Woodstock, Ont. with his parents, Larry and Irene, originally owning a dairy farm – which is one of the most strenuous of the rural occupations – before they sold it and bought a pig farm which they turned into a 125,000-chicken poultry farm.

And according to tales, it didn’t take long for Nugteren to welcome the idea of taking on a hefty portion of the workload that taking care of 125,000 chickens would entail.

As the story goes, when Nugteren was four years old, his parents had to lock the door on his room so he wouldn’t follow his dad out the door to help with 4:00 a.m. milkings; something he was apparently keen to do.

Then when he was in Grade 9, if helping his parents on the farm wasn’t enough, he started raising turkeys to be sold at Christmas time. He started by selling just 12 the first Christmas but by December of his Grade 12 year, he was selling upwards of 150 turkeys. Couple that with his dog breeding venture, in which he sold nearly 45 puggles – a cross between beagles and pugs, which just so happens to be the dog Spartans coach Scott Allen owns – over a four year span at a rate of as much as $600 a puppy, and one can understand that work ethic has never been an issue for the 6-foot-11, 255-pound tower of strength.

“He’s a farm kid and he’s learned to work hard and great on his parents to push him to work hard when he was younger,” Allen said. “His GPA is high, he cares about his teammates and on the court he’s got good range on his shot and he’s physical.”

And now for the first time in his CIS career, he’s able to put that work ethic on display for Spartans fans at the Langley Events Centre.

Nugteren has attended Trinity Western since the fall of 2010 but it took until early January of this past season for his first real appearance on home court in a Spartans uniform. He saw the floor for literally a few seconds on opening night against Victoria but other than that he essentially made his legitimate debut for Trinity Western in January.  And while he got into a total of 12 games for the Spartans the rest of the way and played 79 minutes, for Nugteren it’s only the beginning.

After suffering a partially torn PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) in his left knee after he hyperextended his leg while collecting a rebound in his first practice with the Spartans, Nugteren was forced to watch every game last year from the sidelines.

Then following a less than successful initial surgery, Nugteren went under the knife for a second time last summer and his already year-long injury became a year and a half long injury.

“It was tough,” said Nugteren, who is not surprisingly studying business at Trinity Western. “You always see me around with ice on my knee and I was maybe a little depressed last year but now that I’m back at it, it’s sweet.

“But I think it was a blessing in disguise. That year made me so much more mentally focused this year. It helped me for sure.”

Prior to his first official start on home court back in January, he did have a bit of a warm-up opportunity over the Christmas break to prepare him for Canada West action. During a two-game trip to California over the holidays, he saw his first substantial floor time. In games against Point Loma Nazarene and Azusa Pacific, he played a combined 39 minutes, collected 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

“California was really good for me,” Nugteren said. “I wasn’t as nervous. I was coming off the bench. It was really good and I really needed it to help get my drive back for basketball.”

And while that drive is a welcome return for Nugteren, it hasn’t exactly been a long-time friend.

Realistically his passion for the sport didn’t even start until Grade 10.

Growing up on a farm, let’s just say there wasn’t a whole lot of time for sports.

He played soccer from Grade 2 to Grade 9 but that was about it.

But when he started attending high school at London Christian in Grade 9, at 6-foot-2, the basketball coach, Jerry Roukema, saw a valued asset.

In Grade 9, however, Nugteren said, “No.”

“When I was in Grade 9 I was kind of scared and I didn’t think I would be good enough,” Nugteren said.
But in Grade 10, with Nugteren now standing 6-foot-6, Roukema wasn’t going to let the big man off the hook.

“When Grade 10 came, the coach wouldn’t take no for an answer so I ended up starting to play and it was actually pretty sweet. He gave me a lot of leeway for making mistakes and it was good for me.”

After three years of high school basketball, with his third year coming at Huron Park after he transferred to a closer to home school in Woodstock, he had grown to 6-foot-11 and was a hot commodity amongst scouts, most notably, Allen. But unfortunately for Allen, he got the same treatment Roukema received from Nugteren upon his first inquisition.

“I had just started playing basketball in Grade 10 so I wasn’t going to go and play basketball at the university level. I was just going to work on the farm somewhere and stay at home. That’s what I told Scott in Grade 12.”

Following his Grade 12 year though, instead of farming, he joined the Regional Elite Development Academy (REDA), which is basically a Grade 13 preparatory style of program based in Hamilton, Ont.

While there, he would attend classes in the morning and practice in the afternoon and play games against nearby universities like Guelph and McMaster and prep schools in the U.S.

“That’s when I really started growing on the basketball court,” Nugteren said. “My talents kicked in and I started to actually be able to perform with the size of my body. I really liked playing but I never thought I was good enough.”

Fortunately, the puggle-owning Allen thought otherwise. And after his year with REDA, Nugteren finally accepted the Allen’s offer.

With this past year being just his first year of eligibility, having redshirted last year, Nugteren is hoping this is just the beginning. In his first season at the CIS level, while he averaged just 6.6 minutes per game and 1.6 rebounds per game and 1.6 points per game, you get the feeling that once he gets back into peak basketball shape and with another summer of training, he’ll be a force.

It’ll just take a little bit of hard work. And that shouldn’t be a problem.

He’s been good at that since he was four years old.

Last Updated: 2012-04-19
Author: Scott Stewart