Fresh off winning the Most Outstanding Player award for his performance in the Final Four, Louisville's Luke Hancock is ready to take his game back to the pickup courts at the campus rec center.
"This could be really big for me," said Hancock. "I'm hoping that a lot of the guys who play pickup at the gym watched the Final Four and they'll realize I'm pretty good at basketball and start passing to me a little bit."
Hancock says that he is often begrudgingly added to a team when players split up before pickup games.
"They look at me and all they see is a skinny white guy with a beard and they instantly assume that I'm uncoordinated and can't play basketball," he says. "No one ever picks me."
The one thing going for Hancock in rec center games is that he is 6-foot-6, but that often draws condescending comments.
"Usually one of the captains picks me and says: 'Look, guy. You're tall. Just try to stand under the basket and get rebounds and, if you get one, kick it out to one of us who can shoot. But, mainly, don't get in the way,'" said Hancock. "I'm better than everyone on the court by far, but when so many people assume you suck, sometimes you start to believe it, too."
On the rare occasion a teammate passes Hancock the ball and he shoots and makes a shot, "everyone reacts like it's a miracle," says Hancock. "They're all like 'OHHHHHHHHHH! He made one! When even he's scoring for us, you guys have no chance!'"
Those who play pickup games with Hancock say he will receive a warm welcome when he plays later this week.
"I thought I recognized that guy," said Danny Walton, a 5-8 sophomore business major who played one year of JV basketball in high school. "He did really well. I remember telling him: 'just watch what I do and try to learn from me.' It obviously worked for him. I hope he enjoyed his time as a star, though. Because I'm going to try out for the team next year and kick everyone's ass."