Luke Sikma was a minute or two into his first college game when it happened. The Portland Pilots forward got the ball in the post, held...
Luke Sikma was a minute or two into his first college game when it happened.
The Portland Pilots forward got the ball in the post, held it up high, reversed his pivot and shot. That move is forever ingrained in the hearts and minds of Sonics fans who saw his father, Jack, execute it thousands of times during his nine-year career with the team.
“It was like he was doing a tribute to his dad,” said Portland coach Eric Reveno.
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The shot missed.
“It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing,” said Sikma. “It really had no other meaning. It was just a coincidence.”
But suddenly people are noticing similarities between father and son as Luke Sikma prepares for his first college game in his hometown. The Pilots will play Washington at Edmundson Pavilion at 3 p.m. today.
Jack Sikma may have been one of the greatest Sonics ever, but he was little-known on the day he was drafted in 1977 out of Illinois Wesleyan University, an NCAA Division III school.
Luke Sikma had his dad’s good name and genes, but he didn’t play on varsity at Bellevue High until his junior year and didn’t attract much recruiting notice until the following summer, and then mostly by mid-majors.
“His dad was a late bloomer and ended up being pretty good,” said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, who thinks Luke Sikma may fall in the same category. “He could end up being a big-time player.”
He’s off to a good start, ranking as one of just three college freshmen to average 10 rebounds or better so far, along with 8.1 points. He also leads the Pilots in steals, blocks and field-goal percentage.
Reveno said he thought all along that Sikma would be a good one.
“I’d be lying if I said I thought he would come in and get 10 and eight,” he added.
Reveno, a former Stanford player and coach in his second season at Portland, jumped at the chance to get Sikma after getting a recommendation from Jim Marsh, the coach for Sikma’s AAU team, Friends of Hoop.
Sikma hadn’t gotten much attention until then. He wasn’t serious about basketball until growing about seven inches from his freshman to sophomore year at Bellevue. He’s now 6 feet 8, 215 pounds.
He also had offers from Portland State and Pacific, but no Pac-10 schools showed interest. Portland was the first, however, and his parents liked the thought of a smaller college for their son, based on Jack’s collegiate experience.
Luke Sikma said it doesn’t bother him that no Pac-10 schools recruited him; he admits he didn’t wow anyone with his athleticism on the summer circuit.
“He still needs to get stronger, but he has some natural stuff to his game that’s just great,” Reveno said.
Sikma has been a starter from day one for the Pilots, who typically start two freshmen and two sophomores, including sophomore guard Nik Raivio, the younger brother of former Gonzaga star Derek Raivio.
Portland is 3-6 but won at Montana 58-57 in its most recent game. The Pilots were boosted by the return of point guard Taishi Ito, who had missed the previous four contests, three of which were losses.
Luke is the second of Jack’s three sons. The oldest, Jake, didn’t play basketball in high school and the youngest, Nate, is a freshman on the junior varsity at Bellevue.
Luke Sikma said his father never pressured him to play the game, or to become a certain type of player.
“It was just enjoy the game, have fun playing the game,” he said.
Sikma became a hoops junkie the past few years and often attended games at Edmundson Pavilion. “It will be really exciting to go up against the guys I’ve watched the last few years,” he said.
He’ll get used to it — this is the first of three consecutive years Portland is scheduled to play at Washington.
He’ll have friends and family in the stands today, though not his father, who will be in Houston working at his new job as an assistant for the NBA Rockets, who host Dallas tonight. But Jack Sikma often watches the games online, and the two talk regularly.
Luke Sikma notes that his dad was more of a center, especially in the latter stages of his career, and he’s a forward.
“But we’re both pretty good rebounders,” he said. “And I think the thing we have the most in common is our natural basketball instincts, our feel for the game.”
• Another local player on Portland’s roster is freshman guard Jared Stohl of Marysville-Pilchuck High School; he is averaging eight points.
• The Huskies, who started the season with three victories, are 4-4.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org