Sports

Lukan lookin' good 0

LANCE HOLDFORTH

It's nothing but net for Barrie native Megan Lukan, as she heads to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americas under-18 women's championship later this month.

Lukan and the junior national basketball team will take their skills to Colorado Springs, where they will open the championship against Mexico, starting next week.

"I'm excited and kind of nervous, but I want my name on that jersey," Lukan said. "I've been training with the team basically since last Tuesday."

Lukan first played the sport in Grade 4, and the 18-year-old guard said the game brings out her competitive nature.

"I love the intensity of basketball," she said. "It never stops and I can always be improving."

Lukan recently played in the All Canada Classic fundraiser and was named Ms. Basketball Canada 2010.

"I'm passionate about it (basketball)," she said. "I can't see anyone doing what they want without that."

She earned seven most valuable player awards with the Barrie Royals organization, and was also named MVP and athlete of the year three times with Barrie Central Collegiate's girls hoops squad.

"She was really an outstanding defender in Grade 9," long-time Phoenix head coach Bob Caville said. "She was probably (our) best defender."

Caville said Lukan was determined and showed the desire to succeed at the sport.

"She was always happy to come to practice and work hard," Caville said. "She never took time off."

The coach said Lukan, who competed at three Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships, has steadily improved.

"By last year, she was a very well-rounded, complete player -- a very coachable player," he said. "And that, combined with her skill, made her a top player."

Caville said Lukan excels on the court and in the class room, but still has some work to do.

"I had her in a class and she is an outstanding young student," he said. "She needs to continue to work hard and extend the range on her shot."

Lukan said Caville helped turn her into the player she is today.

"Coaches can affect a team with talent," Lukan said. "He always knew what we were good at, and never took away from that."

She attended the National Elite Development Academy in Hamilton during her Grade 11 year, but said her time at Barrie Central was especially memorable.

"When I was in Grade 9, I played with my older sister (Alyska) on the (Central) team, and when I was in Grade 12, I played with my younger sister (Kaili)," she said.

Coming from a basketball family, Lukan said her mother, Marg, was a big support, having played basketball at a high level herself.

"My mom told me she played on the senior national team, and she helped a lot," Lukan said. "She knew the level of the game and pushed me to train."

Lukan has accepted a scholarship to University of Wisconsin Green Bay, but said Barrie will always be her home.

"I've moved around a lot," she said. "I wish I could take all my friends and family with me."

She plans to study business administration and communication in school, but isn't ruling out a career in basketball.

"If it presents itself, yeah, I'm not shutting it out right now," she said.

"I think she'll have the opportunity to play professionally, whether in Europe of with the WNBA," Caville said. "I think she's a natural athlete."


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