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Luke Hancock, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, signs an autograph after returning to Louisville. “I don’t think it has hit me yet,” the Hidden Valley graduate said of his newfound fame. “I’m just enjoying the moment.”
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Luke Hancock was interviewed by Jim Nantz. He sat behind the CBS desk with Charles Barkley and company. He is on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
After helping Louisville win the NCAA tournament and being named the most outstanding player of the Final Four last week, the Hidden Valley High School graduate certainly has a higher profile than he used to.
“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet,” Hancock said in a phone interview. “I’m just enjoying the moment. I’m just happy for our team. I wanted it more for these guys than for me. If I hadn’t scored a point or anything, I’d still be happy we won it.
“To be national champions is unbelievable.”
After the April 8 title game, Hancock got to look up on the Georgia Dome video board and see himself in CBS’ “One Shining Moment” montage.
“That’s big,” he said. “When you’re growing up and you’re watching the games and everything, that’s what every player dreams about. That was huge.”
Now that the season is over, what will happen to Hancock’s new signature look — his beard?
Hancock started growing the beard late in the regular season and kept it because the Cardinals kept winning. “Fear the beard” signs began popping up in the stands.
“I don’t think my girlfriend’s going to let me keep the beard for very long,” he said. “I might have to bring it back for next year, but it’ll probably be gone pretty soon.”
Before the Final Four, Hancock had scored at least 20 points in just one game all season — he had 22 points in a game against Notre Dame that lasted five overtimes.
But in the April 6 national semifinal win over Wichita State, Hancock rang up 20 points. Two days later, he scored 22 points in the title game against Michigan.
Hancock said he has “no idea” why he had such an offensive outburst in the Final Four.
“I felt like the team needed something,” he said. “I just went out there and shot the ball. We were down 12 in both games and kind of needed a little kick start. So I tried my best.”
The fourth-year junior has made his mark for Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s team as a 3-point shooter. But at his previous schools, Hancock usually scored by driving to the basket.
He got to show off both aspects to his game in the win over Wichita State. He not only made three 3-pointers in that victory but also drove to the basket for a few key buckets.
“Coach put me in a couple pick-and-rolls and I was able to get to the rim a few times. It felt good,” he said.
During halftime of the second semifinal, Pitino and Hancock joined Barkley, Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony and Kenny Smith on the CBS set for an interview.
“It was unbelievable to have that experience and talk to those people,” Hancock said. “I felt like a kid in a candy store.”
In the final, Hancock had four 3-pointers and 14 points in a 16-2 first-half run that gave Louisville the lead.
“If I had been open to drive or open to pass, I would’ve done that. But I got a few clean looks in a row,” Hancock said. “The fourth one, I shot it a little deep, but I was feeling good at that point. I just kind of let them fly.”
When Hancock decided to leave George Mason in April 2011, his final choices were Louisville, Virginia and the school that he wound up facing in the title game — Michigan.
“I made a pretty good decision,” Hancock said.
2 backups leaving Tech women’s team
Reserves Larryqua Hall and Alex Kiss-Rusk will not be back on the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team next season.
Coach Dennis Wolff said he has dismissed Hall from the team. He said it was not because of a specific violation of team rules but because of a culmination of things.
Hall averaged 2.2 points and 5.6 minutes in 11 games as a sophomore this year.
“He doesn’t think I’m a D-I player and that I should just accept my role,” Hall said. “He said that he could see I was upset that I wasn’t playing or whatever. But … I still cheer for my teammates.”
In the wake of Wolff’s decision, Hall said she wants to keep her scholarship and remain at Tech as a nonplaying student next year. But she said Wolff is “trying to bully” her into asking for her release.
Wolff said he has not yet decided if he will renew Hall’s scholarship. He said there is “absolutely no bullying going on.”
Kiss-Rusk is leaving because she wants to transfer to a school in her native Canada, said Wolff. Kiss-Rusk, who could not be reached for comment, averaged 1.9 points and 9.6 minutes in 23 games as a freshman this year.
“She was far away from home and missed her family and wanted to go back to Canada,” Wolff said.
Hagins earns Portsmouth honor
William Fleming graduate Jamelle Hagins of Delaware made the 11-man all-tournament team at the Portsmouth Invitational last week.
The Portsmouth Invitational Tournament enables players who aren’t considered locks for the NBA draft to play games in front of scouts. Hagins ranked fifth among the 64 players in the PIT in scoring, averaging 16.7 points in three games. He also ranked first in minutes (31.7 mpg) and third in rebounding (9.7 rpg), blocks (2 bpg) and steals (2.3 spg).
VMI’s Stan Okoye also played in the PIT. He averaged 12 points and 2 steals.
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