For Luckey, Lincoln’s run a perfect start

Junior Aseem Luckey didn’t expect to be playing basketball when he came to Lincoln, but now he’s one of the team’s standouts.

Shakeir Morrison goes up for a layup against Roman Catholic. RICK KINTZEL / FOR THE TIMES

Aseem Luckey always expected to play in big games. But until he arrived at Abraham Lincoln High School, he didn’t think the big sport would be basketball.

When Luckey went to Ben Franklin during his freshman and sophomore years, he was on the basketball team, but his primary sport was soccer.

“I joined ROTC and the head of that was also the soccer coach, so he told me to come out for the team,” said Luckey, who played goalie and defender in soccer. “I loved soccer. I was pretty tall, so that helped me a lot. But I was also pretty fast for my size. Playing soccer, you have to be in good shape. So I think that helped me a lot.”

And that’s exactly what he brought to the Railsplitters basketball team.

Luckey, a junior, provided Lincoln with size, which was one of the only things this year’s squad lacked. The 6-foot-7 power forward was more than happy to provide muscle and height in the paint, which worked great with the guard-heavy lineup Al Brown would put out.

It was a combination that obviously worked. Lincoln won 25 games, a 6A city championship and advanced to the finals of the state tournament before falling to Roman 92–80 in Hershey.

Luckey did what he always did, providing toughness and girth in the paint. He finished with two points, four rebounds and a blocked shot. For him, it’s not about numbers, it’s about winning.

“My favorite thing to do is block shots because it can mean (momentum shift),” Luckey said. “But I don’t care about scoring. I just try and get out there and do what I can to help the team. We had a lot of good scorers, so I could score when they needed me to, but I didn’t mind doing the other things. You need someone to do everything.”

Luckey didn’t waste any time in jumping right in at Lincoln.

Lincoln guard Khalif Meares goes in for a shot. RICK KINTZEL / FOR THE TIMES

After he realized he was transferring to the school last summer, he started to go to summer workouts. Shortly after he arrived, he was one of the boys.

And almost immediately, he had high expectations just like the returning players.

“I really didn’t know much about their basketball team before I got here, I heard they were good, but I didn’t know how good,” Luckey said. “Then I saw how hard they worked. I think that’s what made them good. Everyone wanted to win. They all did good last year, but they wanted to do even better this year.”

They wanted to win, but making it a reality didn’t just happen.

That’s why Luckey and his teammates spent the bulk of last summer getting bigger, stronger and faster. When they weren’t in the gym working on their game, they were in the weightroom adding muscle. All of that came into play once December rolled around. And that’s the reason they were playing into the spring.

“The coaches had us work really hard and we liked working hard,” Luckey said. “We would have worked hard anyway. But the coaches here really made us want to play better. They wanted to see us do really good.”

Improvement is something Luckey has always worked on.

And he never minds putting in the work.

In fact, long before he started playing basketball, Luckey took part in marathons, including the Broad Street Run.

Training for a marathon is tough, but it turned out it helped him when he was running with the Railsplitters.

“Running for a marathon is tough, but I think playing basketball is a lot harder,” said Luckey, who lives in Southwest Philadelphia. “In basketball, you have to sprint up and down the court as fast as you can. I think it helps that I could do that and that I was a fast runner because a lot of times the big guys can’t do that. I think I was faster than a lot of the big guys because I ran marathons and played soccer. That helped a lot.”

Now that basketball season is over, Luckey is starting to think about what’s next.

He’s leaning toward going out for the Lincoln track team and going back to soccer in the fall.

He also intends on continuing to improve in the classroom, something he has done since arriving at Lincoln.

Oh, and he’s also starting to think about next winter, when the Railsplitters will look to get back to Hershey.

It won’t be easy because the team graduates many key players, but Luckey thinks there is enough talent coming back that Lincoln can again be a force in the Public League and at the state level.

“It will be hard without the seniors, but they showed us what we need to do,” Luckey said. “And if we work hard, we can do anything. Nobody expected us to make the (state championship) this year, but we did. And we won a city championship. If we work hard, we can be good next year.”