Herrin High School senior standout Justin Lukens signed a letter of intent Tuesday to play basketball at John A. Logan College next fall.
A 6-foot-1 point guard with the Tigers, Lukens averaged 17.5 points, three rebounds and three assists per game.
He was named to the River to River All-Conference and All-South Teams. He was also selected Honorable Mention All-State and was placed on the Pyramid Plus, Eldorado Holiday, and West Frankfort Mid-Winter All-Tournament teams and was MVP of the Pinckneyville Shootout.
A two-year starter, Lukens scored 885 career points at Herrin. He will now attempt to make his mark at the collegiate level with the Volunteers.
JALC men's basketball coach Kyle Smithpeters is pleased with his new recruit.
"First and foremost, Justin is a great kid and works very hard," Smithpeters said. "I think he has a lot of good basketball ahead of him. He has not matured yet physically, which is not that uncommon for high school guys."
Smithpeters said what he enjoys most about Lukens is that he plays very hard and that he has skills.
"He can shoot, pass and dribble and there are not a lot of guys that can do all three anymore," Smithpeters said. "And his basketball IQ is very good. He's a coach's son who knows how to play the game, and I think he can be one of those kinds of guys who can contribute as he adjusts to the physicality of the college game."
Smithpeters said Lukens could see action at either the point or shooting guard positions.
Lukens said it means a lot to him to be able to continue his career in basketball at the collegiate level.
"First off, playing the game is what I love doing, and then to be able to play so close to home where my family can still come and watch me, means a lot, too. My dad (Tigers head coach Irv Lukens) played at Logan when he graduated from Herrin and now I'm following in his footsteps.
Hopefully, I can contribute right away."
Lukens went from a role player or distributor of the basketball as a junior to leading scorer his senior year as was the lone returning starter from the previous year's team.
"It was rough at the beginning of the year, because it was different for me to think so much about scoring," Lukens said. "But as the year progressed, I caught on to how I needed to get open and score."
Lukens said his first priority is adding strength.
"The physicality of the game increases each time you move up a level," he said. "I've seen plenty of Logan's games. They run up and down the floor a lot. I think I can hang with them when they run and I can shoot with them, too. But I'm not as strong. I have to get a lot stronger and maybe put on about 10 pounds."
Page 2 of 2 - Lukens was a three-sport athlete at Herrin, also participating in cross country and track for four years.
Irv Lukens said he is proud to see his son step up to the next level of competition.
"I'm glad he's going to Logan. It's close to home and we can have a chance to see him play. It was a lot easier coaching Justin than I thought it would be these last few years. I was worried about that at first, but I thought things went very well this past season between the two of us, and I hope he can say the same thing."
The elder Lukens said it was not easy for his son to adjust to becoming the primary scorer on the team.
"For the most part, I thought he did pretty well. Now, he has to make another adjustment at Logan. There are some very good players over there, and hopefully, he can find a way to fit in."