By Eugene McIntosh @stayhumble & Terrence Tomlin @tomlindoesit
After a disappointing end to his junior year campaign, Whitney Young's 6'5 senior guard Lucas Williamson says he and his team were determined to bounce back and "win it all."
"We knew that last year after losing to Curie that we didn’t want to feel like that again this year. So we just put in a bunch of work by ourselves over the summer and with our AAU teams. This was the goal all year and to see it come true is truly incredible."
The hard work seems to have paid off in a major way as Lucas Williamson put together a stellar senior season averaging 17.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and leading the Whitney Young Dolphins past powerhouse schools like the Simeon Wolverines and the Evanston Township Wildkits on the way to the 2017 4a State Championship.
Williamson's determination and humble but fierce approach to the game embodies what it is to be a "hooper" in Chicago, the best basketball city in the world. His leadership qualities on and off the court have set an example for not only his fellow teammates but for every player in the state and because of that, Lucas Williamson is "The Bigs 2016-17 Hooper Of The Year."
Whitney Young boys basketball head coach Tyrone Slaughter praised his senior for putting in 4 years of hard work in the Dolphins program.
"When you look at the things he was able to accomplish this year it is a direct result of the 4 years he was able to put in the program and he's just a great kid that does whatever it is that's necessary. He's a young man that wanted to get better and ultimately he did that and a lot of it was done on his own."
Whitney Young's Principal, Dr Joyce Kenner, echoed Coach Slaughter's sentiments. "I'm honored to say that we have a student like Lucas and all of the young men that played on this State Championship team. Lucas is one of the most outstanding students we've ever had here at Whitney Young. He's been focused academically. He's humble. He's fair. He's honest and all the kids here love him as a student not just as a basketball player."
The Bigs sat down with the "Hooper Of The Year" for a Q&A session in which he gave credit to his teammates for their dedication, told us about his ultimate goals moving forward and the hoopers that inspire him.
The Bigs: We all know it takes a team to accomplish the goal of winning a State Championship. What do you have to say about the guys around you that helped you reach this goal.
LW: They're winners man. I have to give total props to my team. They all went out and supported me even last year when there were moments when I felt I couldn’t lead. They supported me 1000% and this is the result. I told them we could do this last year and to see it come true is incredible.
The Bigs: What was the toughest obstacle you had to overcome this year?
LW: We lost the first game of the season vs Simeon. We didn't want to let that loss set the tone for the whole season. We knew we would see them again and we did and luckily we got the win when it mattered. It just shows our growth from the beginning to the end of the year.
The Bigs: Coach Slaughter is one of the most well respected coaches in the state of Illinois. Can you talk a little bit about the impact he's had on you.
LW: His influence on me for my entire 4 years has been incredible. Rarely do you find a coach that actually loves his players. I'm really speechless when it comes to "Coach Ty". He's always believed in me. He's always known that things like this were possible. I think he's the greatest coach ever.
The Bigs: With the State Title on the line you were facing a rival in the Simeon Wolverines. Tell us what your mindset was going into that game.
LW: Coach Ty compared them to a bully in the sense that you get beat up so many times, at some point you have to stand up and speak up for yourself. That's pretty much what our mindset was going into the game. We've lost to them 3 times over the past year and were just tired of losing to them.
The Bigs: Your Principal said that you were an outstanding student. Can you talk about that importance of being successful in the classroom as well as on the court as a student-athlete?
LW: When I chose Whitney Young, I chose them because of their great athletic program and great academic reputation. You simply can't play if you don't have your school work in order. Most don't know that how you are in class is a direct correlation to how you do on the court. If coach draws up a play and you can't get it, it usually means you aren’t paying attention in class either.
The Bigs: Let's take a look at the future. What is your ultimate dream?
LW: I've been watching the NCAA Tournament. Right now I am undecided on where I will be gong to school next year but hat's my dream going to the next level. I want to win a National Championship and ultimately play in the NBA. I'd also like to major in communications so maybe I'll be doing what you do one day.
The Bigs: What hoopers inspired you?
LW: I like Paul George and Kwahi Leonard. But my favorite player is D.Rose. He brought the excitement back...even though he went to Simeon.
VIDEO: The Bigs present Whitney Young senior guard Lucas Williamson with "The 2016-17 Bigs Hooper Of The Year" Award