Lucas Named NAC Player Of The Year, Signs With Gardner Webb

Dual sport standout, Nigel Lucas, is close to wrapping up his basketball career


Senior Nigel Lucas (seated) signs at his signing ceremony with father coach Reginald Lucas standing behind him.

Star football player Nigel Lucas has had an accomplished career over his four years of playing football and basketball. He is a versatile and key player that has helped our football and basketball teams in performing to their best ability.

At the conclusion of the football season, Lucas was named NAC-VI Conference Player of the Year.

Lucas played offense, defense and special teams his senior season. On the offensive side, he led the team in receptions (35) and receiving yards (656). Lucas amassed the second-most touchdowns (13). On special teams, he led the team with 182 kickoff return yards. Defensively Lucas led the team in interceptions (7) and interception return yards (151). He also amassed 47 total tackles on the season. 

With numbers like these on both sides of the ball, it is understandable why the conference coaches voted Lucas as the player of the year. 

Unlike the other players, Lucas’ father also doubles as his coach. His experience as a football player was heavily impacted by this. Having a closer connection with one’s coach can be a big advantage. Although, having to turn the switch from coach to dad, on and off the field, can be tough. 

“I feel as a parent my dad instilled in me at a young age that working hard pays off and gave me the mindset that if I wanted something I needed to work for it and go take it,” Lucas said. “As a coach, I feel he taught me the knowledge of the game and put me in the right positions for me to showcase my abilities and excel at my position.”

Despite all of Lucas’ accomplishments, the season had ups and downs. It took a lot of courage and determination to push through those tough times, as a team. 

“Watching Nigel’s last game was heartbreaking. Not only was that my last time coaching him, but we LOST!  We do not like losing in our house.  We compete at everything and when it comes to sports, we play to win. Nigel played with some talented and close seniors, so that last game was a tough one,” head coach Reginald Lucas said.

There are certain character traits that a D1 athlete displays. It seemed to be evident to his coaches that Lucas carried these traits very early on.

“I’ve seen Nigel grow up, and he’s always had ‘it.’ Yes, he has athletic ability, but he loves the game, and he loves to compete at everything. I really saw it his freshman year. When he’s on the field, you certainly know he’s there,” said Offensive Coordinator Glendon Dillard.

Balancing academics and athletics is always a struggle for student athletes, especially when they are trying to play at the next level. 

“Nigel has definitely grown as a person and athlete.  I think every student grows and matures in high school.  With Nigel playing sports and having to maintain his academics, it could have been tougher than the average student,” coach Lucas said. “He learned quickly how to manage his time to study and train for sports. I’ve seen him stay up late studying and doing homework after practice and games. Knowing he wanted to play on the collegiate level, he took academics seriously from day one. Nigel does not complain about schoolwork and playing sports because he knows that’s a requirement.  I’ve seen him turn into a mature young man that’s ready for his next chapter.” 

Dillard has been alongside Nigel in his progression throughout this season. With Nigel committing to Division 1 Gardner-Webb, Dillard is proud of his player’s accomplishments.

“It’s a great feeling as a coach to see someone like Nigel excel, especially in their senior season at a place that is not only special to him, but to his family as well. These four years blew by WAY too fast, but it was fun to watch him and the rest of this senior class succeed. This is a special group,” coach Dillard said. 

With Lucas’ senior basketball season ending, it is a bittersweet moment as his high school sports career is coming to a close. 

Lucas led the basketball team, averaging 3.9 assists per game and averaging 2.1 steals per game. He’s fourth in points per game, averaging 9.5. 

Both coach Dillard and coach Lucas are pleased with Lucas’s performance throughout his football career and being able to play at the next level.

“I will miss Nigel’s enthusiasm, passion, dedication, leadership and playmaking.  Of course, I will miss my son.  He is my rock!,” coach Lucas said.