Future Siena College men's basketball player Lucas Sutherland will close his high school career in Glens Falls this weekend.
And, yes, even despite Thursday's news that head coach Jamion Christian has left Siena for George Washington University, Sutherland plans to be a Saint next season.
Sutherland, who is signed to compete next season for Siena College, is one of the top players on the West Genesee boys’ basketball team set to play in this weekend’s Federation Tournament of Champions at Glens Falls’ Cool Insuring Arena. Late Thursday evening, the 6-foot-8 Sutherland confirmed in a text message his intention to play next season for Siena despite Christian's departure.
His primary focus, though, remains on his leading his high school team into what's ahead of it.
“We know the competition in the federation is totally different,” Sutherland said earlier this week in a phone interview. “We have to value every single day, and we have to stick to our stuff. We still need to improve.”
West Genesee (NYSPHSAA, 22-4) plays in Friday’s Class AA semifinals against Christ the King (CHSAA, 19-10) at 6:15 p.m. The winner of West Genesee vs. Christ the King will play in Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. championship game against the winner of Friday’s 8 p.m. semifinal between South Shore (PSAL, 27-4) and Long Island Lutheran (AIS, 23-2).
Sutherland recorded 19 points, six rebounds and four blocks in West Genesee’s 70-57 win last Saturday against Brentwood in the state championship game. The victory marked West Genesee’s first-ever state championship and came weeks after the program won its first sectional title in 25 years.
“This year is the closest I’ve ever been with my teammates. We do everything together, on and off the court,” said Sutherland, whose junior high school season ended in the sectional quarterfinals. “This year, we built off everything we went through last year. Right from the jump, we had that chemistry.”
Sutherland, 18, committed to Siena last August after participating in a prospect camp at the school.
“I went there and met the whole coaching staff. It felt like home right away,” Sutherland said. “The environment there seemed perfect.”
Sutherland is one of three signed incoming freshmen for Siena, which also had two more scholarships open up for next season when it was announced earlier this week that juniors Thomas Huerter and Khalil Richard will leave the program.
While he was busy with his own season, Sutherland said he kept close watch on the Saints this season as they went 17-16 and tied for second in the MAAC after being picked to finish last.
“I watched every single game I could,” Sutherland said. “They were projected to finish last and they tied for second. That alone shows what’s going on there and the change has been like there. I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Sutherland said he also cannot wait for a chance to play in Glens Falls, a city with a connection to high school basketball that is well-known throughout the state.
“That’s what you hear about all the time,” Sutherland said. “Being able to play there is super-exciting for me.”