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Columbia’s Versatile Luke Petrasek Ready For the Next Chapter as a Pro

Contributor Francis Adu speaks to Columbia alum Luke Petrasek about how he became such a versatile player

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The sport of basketball continues down the path of emphasizing more spacing, more ball movement, and more player movement in team offenses. Those goals just happen to fit the modus operandi of recently graduated Columbia alum Luke Petrasek to a T. Petrasek spent his four seasons at the Ivy League institution honing his role as a highly skilled 6’10” big with rare offensive versatility.

When asked about the inspiration for his Swiss army knife toolset, Petrasek reminisced, “When I was younger, I used to love watching Rondo play on the Celtics. I always wanted to be a point guard, which is why I love passing. I also used to love watching highlight reel dunkers like Vince Carter and Derrick Rose. I've always tried to imitate their dunking power.”

If a teammate got loose on a cut to the basket, Petrasek found a way to see the move and make the correct pass. If Columbia needed a scoring run, Petrasek developed the ability to knock down jumpers off the dribble or off screens to lead the flurry. If the defense overplays his jumper, Petrasek has the mobility and length to get into the lane and finish.

Even if Petrasek didn’t have the ball in his hands, he had great timing on his cuts to the rim to act as an outlet for the ball-handler for easy layups and dunks. Petrasek’s ability to score efficiently from all areas of the half-court makes him a headache to account for if you are his opposing defense.

As a senior team leader for the 2016-17 Columbia Lions, Petrasek played like a top ten player in the Ivy League by putting up 15.1 points, 5.6 rebounds on 49% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc on4.3 bombs a game. Petrasek applied his on-court intelligence to be the team’s main weapon without hijacking the offense. Rarely did Petrasek attempt shots that did not come naturally out of the flow of head coach Jim Engles’s offense.

“After the past year, I felt we lost a lot of senior leadership with the graduation of four seniors and two All Ivy guys”, Petrasek explained of his expansion of responsibilities as Columbia’s new star, “So this year I wanted to make sure I stepped into a leadership role and did everything I could on the court to help make my teammates better and win games.”

The myriad of roles Petrasek can play for any style of offense combined with his size and mobility should make him an ideal fit for most professional teams looking for a keeper in the power forward position. The selfishness the native New Yorker lacks makes him a teammate most players across the NBA should love to play with. It feels like Petrasek knows what he’s doing on the court too much to ever fail.

As Petrasek deservedly vouches for himself, “My confidence comes from the hard work that I put in daily. Knowing that I am consistently working on my game allows me to know that I will be prepared when the opportunity presents itself. I also believe in my own skill and ability and would be blessed to showcase them in the NBA.”