In February, Prep Rally brought you the story of Landen Lucas, the Oregon prep basketball star who left his home state in an attempt to rocket into the prep hoops recruiting stratosphere at Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep. Now, Lucas is returning to Oregon without a known destination, a cautionary tale of how the drive to achieve can sometimes alienate teenagers from the things that are most important: Family and friends.
According to the Portland Oregonian, Lucas confirmed via text message that he is leaving Findlay Prep after a single year to return to Oregon. The rising senior will have one year of scholastic eligibility remaining, but has yet to determine which Portland-area school he will compete for.
"I just wanted to update you and let you know I'll be coming home to Oregon for my senior year," Lucas texted to the Oregonian. "Which school I will attend is still not decided.
"It was just because my family and I figured that because I was going off to college next year, we thought it would be nice to be home for my senior year, have fun and get ready for the next level."
That Lucas would leave Findlay Prep's top prospect factory is nearly unprecedented. The basketball-focused school has produced three first-round picks from the past two NBA drafts (Avery Bradley, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph) and featured the nation's top senior point guard prospect in 2010, Myck Kabongo, who will play for the University of Texas in the fall.
Yet Lucas' decision to return to Oregon is also a fascinating case study in how hardwood success isn't enough to ensure happiness. While Lucas' move to Findlay Prep was a success in a basketball sense -- he emerged as a valuable sixth man for the powerhouse program and was expected to be a significant contributor in his senior season -- he struggled with self doubt about his decision to leave Oregon early in Findlay Prep's campaign.
Evidently that doubt never subsided, with Lucas eventually deciding that a chance at working toward a state title in Oregon, where his family and friends (minus Oregon native and Findlay teammate Nigel Williams-Goss) can be front row center, is worth more than fighting for a national title at Findlay Prep.
While some analysts might question Lucas' decision to leave such a high-profile program just as he is entering his most marketable recruiting period, the senior also hinted that he may not be interested in getting such high wattage exposure. Lucas told the Oregonian that he plans to select his future college destination before his senior season begins. That would lead one to believe that Lucas is close to a decision already, a factor which would make getting maximum exposure in his senior season less essential than it would be otherwise.
Regardless of what inspired it, one thing is certain: Lucas will get to finish his career in the state where he started it. No matter how his final season concludes, that's likely to be a reason for celebration among his family and friends, who will get to be there every step of the way.