Of all the reasons to be excited for the 2013–2014 BYU basketball season, Luke Worthington is one of the biggest, in more ways than one.
Standing at 6’9” and weighing 240 pounds, Worthington is ready to let his physical presence be known on the court for BYU.
Worthington is finishing his senior year at Homestead High School in Mequon, Wis., where he was named an All-Conference, All-Region and All-State player in both football and basketball. He feels more than ready to take his game to the next level and will join Coach Dave Rose’s team this summer after he graduates.
“What I think will transfer best to college is his physical play, especially near the basket,” said Kevin McKenna, Worthington’s high school varsity basketball coach. “He is very strong and battles well in the paint … He also has an incredible battery — just keeps going and going.”
The Cougars will look significantly different next season with the loss of some key contributing players, including the team’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, Brandon Davies. While some Cougar fans wonder if the void Davies leaves in the post can be filled, Worthington argues that it can and it will.
“(I’ll be) bringing a lot of added physicality and size,” Worthington said.
Worthington will most likely compete with Lone Peak standout Erik Mika for playing time in the post position. He knows he can contribute immediately on defense and rebounding and hopes to soon bring his offensive game up to the same level as that of his teammates. In watching last year’s team, Worthington noticed some deficiencies in areas where he knows he can contribute.
“The team needs good, consistent rebounding from the big men and more physicality down low on defense — big physical play down low,” Worthington said.
Worthington began his long list of athletic achievements as early as eighth grade with a state championship. His high school career began with an achievement that hadn’t been reached in a long time.
“Freshman year I was pretty psyched … a freshman hadn’t been asked to play varsity for 30-plus years or something,” Worthington said, “So when it happened, that was definitely a pretty cool moment.”
Worthington received more than 30 Division I basketball offers; his offer from BYU came in July 2012. When Worthington narrowed down the list to his top five schools, BYU was included, along with Davidson, Butler, Penn and Princeton. Worthington had developed a relationship with BYU by attending basketball camps and being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the decision on which of these schools to attend still wasn’t easy.
“BYU’s a big university and a big name as far as basketball goes, with a balance of academics,” Worthington said. “There’s a lot of devout fans and followers … (BYU) had just a good, positive vibe.”
The decision about which school to attend was not the only difficult one Worthington had to make. Being a standout in both football and basketball, he also had to decide which sport he would continue playing at the next level.
As an offensive tackle, Worthington led his high school football team to the Wisconsin state championship this last season. With his size, athleticism and coming from a prestigious high school program with a well-known coach, Worthington received scholarship offers from Stanford, Northwestern, Wisconsin and BYU.
Offers from such well-known programs would make for a difficult decision for most, but for Worthington it was a no-brainer. Even though he was a standout football player, he does not plan to follow in the footsteps of Bronson Kaufusi and play both sports.
“I like football,” Worthington said. “But at the end of the day, my passion was always basketball.”
Basketball isn’t the only thing Worthington is looking forward to as he leaves home and starts his college career. He is excited to become a part of all that BYU and the surrounding area has to offer.
“Going to football games, volleyball games and getting to meet new people,” Worthington said. “I’m a pretty social guy.”
Despite being so far away from home, Worthington will have a lot of familiar faces around when he arrives this summer.
“I have some of my dad’s family out there,” Worthington said. “It’ll be good to have them around, maybe go over for some Sunday dinner … maybe have my grandma do my laundry.”
As Worthington looks forward to his career at BYU (which he will begin this season and, as of now, plans to play four straight years), he has set his expectations and goals high, wanting to achieve “as much success as possible.”
“I’m definitely a big team guy, because at the end of the day it’s about the team accomplishments,” Worthington said. “Getting wins and hopefully some NCAA appearances … because kids dream about being in the dance.”
Worthington has yet to prove himself on the college stage, but his desire to succeed will prove helpful in his growth and progression as a player.
“He will contribute to the team by being a team player,” McKenna said of Worthington. “His willingness to learn and get better, his positive attitude and leadership are all positive qualities. He never settles for second best and is always looking to make his teammates better.”