Ex-Florida State Point Guard, Loucks Heads To Olympics As Nigeria Assistant Coach

Former FSU guard Luke Loucks is an assistant coach with the Nigeria national men’s basketball team that will compete in the Olympics. (Courtesy of Luke Loucks/Nigeria national team)

 LAGOS JULY 17TH (NEWSRANGERS)-Luke Loucks isn’t exactly sure what his long-term future will be as a basketball coach.

But the former Florida State point guard, who helped lead the Seminoles to the 2012 ACC Championship, knows exactly what his immediate future is: He will be heading to the Olympics in Japan next week as an assistant coach with the Nigerian national team.

Loucks, who currently serves as a player development coach for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, was chosen by Nigeria head coach Mike Brown (a Golden State assistant) to be a part of the coaching staff for the international squad.

An international squad, it should be pointed out, that defeated the United States in an exhibition game earlier this week in Las Vegas.

 “Once he committed (to being the head coach), he pulled me back into his office and asked if I would be a part of his staff as one of his assistant coaches,” Loucks said. “And, of course, he couldn’t even finish the question and I said, ‘I’m in.'”

That conversation took place around January of 2020, Loucks said. And for the past 18 months, the staff has been working as hard as possible to put together a team that can compete for a medal in Tokyo.

They appear to be well on their way. Only the United States has more current NBA players on its roster than than the nine Nigeria has. And the win over the Americans in Vegas certainly proved the squad’s capabilities.

Speaking via Zoom on Friday, Loucks admitted it was an surreal feeling to not just be coaching an international team, but actively coaching against his own country.

“For the most part, with our staff, we were playing against our home country,” Loucks said. “So, it was interesting. Leading up to the game, in every team meeting, Mike would make one of the young players lead the whole group in the Nigerian national anthem. Which is really cool for us, because, shoot, I don’t know the Nigerian national anthem. And it’s something that’s going to be played before every one of our games.

“So, we get there (for the USA game) and the Nigerian national anthem comes on and our whole staff, which is a bunch of American dudes, we’re all singing the Nigerian national anthem. Standing across from our American players.”

So, yeah. A bit surreal.

As the whole experience will continue to be.

Loucks joined the Warriors five years ago as a paid intern helping with player development. For the next two years, he was a “two-way coach,” meaning he would be in Oakland with the NBA team unless a player was sent to the G-League affiliate. Then Loucks would go there with him and work with that player in an effort to get him more prepared for the NBA.

During the last two years, Loucks has been a player development coach for the Warriors, who have since moved their facilities to San Francisco.

Earlier this month, from July 5-14, Loucks found himself in Las Vegas for Nigeria’s three exhibition games (wins over the United States and Argentina and a loss to Australia), and then he returned to the bay area in California for another week of practice at the Warriors’ old training facility in Oakland.

Then, next week, comes the main event.

“We’re taking off on Tuesday for Tokyo,” Loucks said. “To be honest, we’ve spent so much time building up to this point that everyone is pretty anxious and excited to get over there. … Once we’re in Tokyo, I think there’s a small quarantine period. The opening ceremonies are on the 23rd, and then our first game (against Australia) will be on the 25th.”

With Nigeria having so many NBA players on the roster, it’s hoping to become the first African team to medal in the Olympic games.

So, Loucks is hoping to be a part of history while he’s in Tokyo.

And while he has no idea how this experience will impact his coaching future, just being an on-the-bench assistant coach in the biggest international tournament in the world shouldn’t hurt his ascent.

“In terms of what this will do for my career, I honestly haven’t really thought about it,” Loucks said. “And I try not to. I know it’s an incredible experience, but I think when you take things like this on … you try not to put it in this massive, ‘Hey, this is going to be so great for my next step.’

“You just try to live in the moment and learn as much as you can from a really experienced and incredible staff. … So, in terms of what this will do for my career? Who knows. Maybe it doesn’t do anything. But I do know I’m going to enjoy the experience and try to learn as much as I can.”


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Posted by on Jul 17 2021. Filed under National, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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