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College basketball: Lutes finds a home at Bemidji State

Brock Lutes, a former Division I recruit football and basketball, says he has been warmly welcomed to the Bemidji State basketball team this year. He scored 23 points in his Beaver debut last week. BSU Photo Services

Sometimes in both sports and life, people are faced with a situation that throws them off the desired course. The difference between those who are successful and those who are not may lie in how they let those situations affect them.

Junior guard Brock Lutes of the Bemidji State men’s basketball team was faced with one of those difficult situations coming out of high school in Newberg, Ore., three years ago.

Lutes, a standout in both football and basketball, was being recruited by Division I programs in both sports and originally signed a letter of intent to play football on a full scholarship for Washington State.

“Being from Portland, I had a lot of looks from Oregon State, Portland State and some other big schools out there,” said Lutes, whose squad will host Finlandia at 8 p.m. today in the BSU Gymnasium. “I had actually signed a letter of intent to play football at Washington State.”

“They had actually wanted me to play basketball there as well.”

Despite being signed to play football, Bemidji State head coach Mike Boschee claims that Lutes’ first love in sports was basketball. Luckily for Lutes, he was quite good at that sport too; as he led the state of Oregon in scoring during his junior season.

“He signed at Washington State to play football, but he was also a very talented basketball player,” Boschee said. “He led the state of Oregon in scoring in his junior season.”

“He is so unique,” Boschee added. “He is such a gifted athlete that allows him to be successful in both sports. He is a very talented young man, and I do not think he has even scratched the surface on how good he can be.”

Unfortunately for Lutes, his plans to play two sports at a Division I program fell through and he was forced to attend a junior college.

“When things with Washington State did not work out, I went to Iowa Western – a junior college in Iowa – to focus on basketball,” Lutes said. “I was so let down about not playing football, I just decided to stick with basketball.”

After a season at Iowa Western, Lutes spent his sophomore campaign at Clackamas Community College – where he averaged 15 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest.

“Junior college was a bit of a struggle,” Lutes said. “You usually have people pushing you and telling you what to do, but in junior college it is more of your own grind.”

In his first regular-season game with the Beavers, Lutes led all scorers with 23 points on 9-12 shooting in just 27 minutes of action. His impressive debut included four three-pointers in the first half.

“It has been really good here so far,” Lutes said. “I really like the coaching staff here and everyone welcomed both me and the other new players in with open arms. So far it has been a really good fit.”

For a team that has just one returning starter from the previous season, Lutes has an opportunity to earn a vital role in coach Boschee’s rotation in his first season with the team.

“It is still early, but he certainly has the potential to give us points when we really need them,” Boschee said. “He is athletic enough and talented enough to be a critical player for us. We are trying to find out who will be our guys who can step-up and make the big plays late in games.”

Considering he was so close to playing on the big stage, it would be easy to assume that Lutes is making a pit stop in Bemidji as an attempt to demand the attention of another Division I coach to give him an opportunity to shine in his senior season, but Lutes assures that his focus is helping BSU reach its potential this season.

“I just want to take things one game at a time,” Lutes said. “I am not even thinking about next year right now. I want to make the NCAA tournament and try to win it. I want to do everything I can to try to make history here.”

Talks of competing in the national tournament may sound far-fetched for a team that was tabbed by coaches in the NSIC to finish 12th in the conference, but Lutes knows that he has teammates who have been there before. He admitted that the preseason polls are something that motivates the team to rise above its expectations.

“It is a lot of motivation,” Lutes said of the team’s preseason ranking. “Being ranked towards the bottom gives us extra motivation each day in practice to work that much harder.”

“Even when we are tired and do not want to be at practice, we have to remember that we were ranked 12th,” Lutes continued. “We want to shock everybody and show them that we belong at the top.”

The Bemidji State women, fresh off two victories on a weekend road trip to Colorado, will take on Finlandia in tonight’s first game at 6 p.m.