By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
Too bad for the Clovis High girls basketball team that the whole family of LaMar Lucas doesn’t have the same affinity for Clovis as he does.
If that were the case, the Lady Wildcats would have a high school All-American on their hands.
When he was in high school, Lucas moved from his home in Las Vegas, Nev., to live with relatives in Clovis.
Now his daughter, Italee, is one of the premier prep players in the country.
Already verbally committed to play at the University of North Carolina, Italee Lucas was selected to the Parade All-American second team at the end of last season. This year, the 5-foot-8 point guard will finish her high school career at Las Vegas’ Centennial High School.
Most recently, she was on the United States’ 18-and-under squad that won the International Basketball Federation tournament in Colorado Springs.
“She made the USA national team and I went down there,” LaMar Lucas said. “I think I was having more fun than she was.”
In his final two years of high school, Lucas was on the Clovis High squad which won the state large-school championship in 1979 and earned a state runnerup finish the following season.
“My grandmother lived down there,” Lucas recalled. “I wanted to move and be with my family and I liked it. My mother told me I could stay.”
Then-CHS head coach Jimmy Joe Robinson said Lucas was a key player for the Wildcats.
“We always called him Moochie,” Robinson said. “Yeah, he was a good one. We finished second (in 1980) and he always guarded Wallace Williams every time we played Hobbs. He got him down a couple of times real good.”
As recently as last year, when Robinson was coaching Clovis Christian, he still utilized a practice drill that he called “the Moochie.”
“I used to go to UNLV practices and try to work out with those guys as much as possible,” Lucas said. “It was probably just one of those things I took with me.”
After high school, Lucas played at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, before playing off and on for eight years in Asia.
Moving back to Las Vegas, Lucas became a firefighter and married Tammi Cave, a former showgirl at Bally’s — whom Lucas proudly points out was featured in a television show on the E! network called “Vegas Showgirls.”
Lucas still has family in Clovis, but a return back to Eastern New Mexico didn’t seem a plausible possibility in view of his spouse’s background.
“She’s too L.A.,” he said. “She’s danced for the Clippers and danced on videos, in movies.
“She did a lot of stuff in Hollywood. I don’t Clovis is the kind of place where she could kind of hang for a bit.”
One year from now, Lucas will be making frequent travel plans to see his daughter in North Carolina. Italee Lucas, according to her dad, was vastly more interested in soccer when she was an elementary school student.
“When she was growing up, playing soccer, she wanted to be like Mia Hamm. When she started playing basketball, she wanted to be like Michael Jordan,” said Lucas, referring to a pair of former Tar Heels. “She wants to play. She wants to be the best and she enjoys challenging herself.
“I play one-on-one with her and I don’t give her no breaks. But she don’t give me no breaks, either.”