North Xtra: Luther facing difficult decision

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One of the top basketball players in the WPIAL looked to the sideline to receive instruction from his coach in a game last weekend.

This might sound ordinary, but it was far from it.

The game was in Las Vegas and the coach was NBA star Carmelo Anthony.

It has been that kind of summer for Hampton senior Ryan Luther.

Luther will spend the coming months narrowing his list of college suitors. But in July, he spent most of his time travelling to AAU tournaments across the country.

"It's been really busy," Luther said a few hours after arriving home from a red-eye flight from Las Vegas last Monday. "It's kind of relaxing to finally be done through August and enjoy summer. I guess now I'm probably going to start narrowing down my college choices and making more decisions as far as that goes."

Luther will be arguably the top returning player in the WPIAL. A 6-foot-8 guard/forward, Luther led Hampton to the WPIAL Class AAAA final as a junior, averaging 21.2 points per game. He was one of only two juniors -- along with New Castle's Malik Hooker -- selected to the Post-Gazette's Fabulous Five team.

Ten Division I schools have offered Luther thus far: Iowa, Virginia Tech, Dayton, Duquesne, George Washington, Bucknell, Lehigh, Buffalo, William & Mary and New Hampshire. Luther received his first offer last summer from Dayton, and his latest offers have come this summer from Iowa, Lehigh and Buffalo.

Luther's coach at Hampton, Joe Lafko, might not be as good a player as the guy who coached Luther in Las Vegas, but he knows Luther's game about as well as anybody.

"I'm really excited for him. He has some great opportunities ahead of him," Lafko said. "He's had some outstanding experiences. The first thing I would say about him is he's a very unselfish player. He's the type of player who can make everybody else better. He's a tremendous athlete but also a very skilled basketball player. He can score in the interior and can shoot it from the outside."

Pitt is showing interest in Luther, but has yet to extend an offer. Luther said he would strongly consider the Panthers if they do offer.

In July, Luther went to tournaments in Indianapolis (Adidas Invitational), Orlando (Super Showcase) and Las Vegas (The 8). He played with his regular AAU team -- Maryland 3D -- in the first two along with his twin, Collin, and New Castle's Anthony Richards. In Las Vegas, Ryan Luther was invited to play for Team Melo, a group from Anthony's hometown of Baltimore.

The Las Vegas tournament, sponsored by NBA All-Star Chris Paul's CP3 organization, was a particularly great experience for Luther. Each of the eight teams was coached by a current or former NBA standout who played for his team or formed and sponsors it. Others serving as coaches included Anthony Davis, Ty Lawson and TV personality Kenny Smith.

Luther's team went 1-2 in the event, but he said it was neat to be a part of and to be coached by an NBA star.

"It was kind of weird being around one of the best players in the NBA," Luther said. "It was cool to see his perspective. We got to see what type of talent he has. It was cool when he was telling us to do certain things."

Among the coaches watching were Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State's Tom Izzo.

This winter, Hampton likely will be the favorite to win the WPIAL title, as the Talbots return the bulk of their team.

Until then, Luther said he will put much of his focus into what his future school will be.

"I'm getting a better idea," he said. "I just want to go somewhere where I'll have a good career, both academically and for basketball. I'm just looking for the right fit."



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