While Kansas forward Landen Lucas didn’t have a starring role on this past season’s team, which won an 11th consecutive Big 12 regular season title, he did manage to earn minutes in the Jayhawks’ front court rotation. Lucas made 14 starts, averaging 3.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in just over 15 minutes of action per game, and he did so while playing at less than 100 percent for most of the season.
While there were multiple issues involving his knee, hip and back, Lucas also had to deal with a leg ailment that wasn’t addressed until shortly after the Jayhawks’ season came to an end in the NCAA tournament. He discussed the matter with Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World:
“After the season I had surgery done on my left leg. There was a small bone tumor in the shin area they had to take out,” Lucas said, the word “tumor” sounding awfully scary coming out of his mouth. “It was nothing serious. It wasn’t cancerous, but I had it from the start of the season. It’s one of those things that was growing throughout last offseason, and I noticed it around Late Night.
“I think it caused some problems. It did give me some pain. Recovery time is six to eight weeks, so we knew we had to wait until after the season to do anything about it,” Lucas explained.
Lucas is nearly back to full strength, with the hip issue not requiring surgery. And while Lucas may be a player overlooked by some, the summer leading into his junior campaign (which will include KU representing the United States in the World University Games) in an important one.
The Jayhawks return the majority of their front court rotation, with Cliff Alexander being the lone departure, and Carlton Bragg and Cheick Diallo join the ranks. But as has been the case under Bill Self, arriving in Lawrence as a highly-regarded recruit doesn’t guarantee large amounts of playing time.
That’s where an experienced player like Lucas who understands and embraces his role comes into play. How much playing time Lucas can earn remains to be seen, but there weren’t many who anticipated him making 14 starts before the 2014-15 season began either.