Longwood University sophomore Lucas Woodhouse had some concerns when the school replaced coach Mike Gillian with Jayson Gee after the 2012-13 season.
The 6-1 Harborfields graduate had taken over the starting point guard position midway through his freshman season after an injury to senior Nik Brown.
Woodhouse, of Greenlawn, made the most of his opportunity as the starter the next game, posting a career-high 11 assists in a 68-65 loss to UNC Asheville. He continued his high level of play during the final 15 games as the starter, averaging 8.4 points and 8.1 assists.
"I just kept working hard, didn't give up on myself and everything fell into place the second half of my freshman year," Woodhouse said.
But then the coaching change was made. That can lead to a shakeup in the starting lineup and the roster, but Woodhouse remained confident.
"There were some doubts, but I worked hard enough and figured I could play for whoever got the job," he said.
Woodhouse said Gee told him during their first meeting that nothing was guaranteed. "He just wanted someone who was going to work hard and compete every day," Woodhouse said.
Harborfields coach Chris Agostino had no doubt that Woodhouse would remain the starting point guard and thrive under Gee.
"I felt comfortable enough with [Gee] that I told Luke he could take his game to the next level with him," said Agostino, who coached Woodhouse for five years at Harborfields. "And Luke has an incredible work ethic. The kid just doesn't stop."
It didn't take long for Woodhouse to win over Gee, who said his point guard "can be the face of the program."
Woodhouse, who averaged 5.2 points and 5.5 assists his freshman season, has seen improvement in nearly every facet of his game, raising his averages to 10.6 points and 7.2 assists per game in his sophomore season.
A Newsday All-Long Island first-team selection, Woodhouse, who helped lead Harborfields to the state Class A championship in 2012, is fourth in the nation in assists. His passing and ability to make players around him better are skills that Gee believes can take him to the next level.
"Lucas is an elite-level passer and assist guy," Gee said. "He makes plays very few people in college basketball can make."
Gee also noted Woodhouse's strong play late in games, pointing out his effort in a 69-66 win over Liberty on Jan. 22. Woodhouse scored a career-high 27 points, including three three-pointers in the final 2:44 as the Lancers overcame a late deficit for the victory.
Longwood (7-18, 2-8 Big South) has struggled this season, but Woodhouse sees better days ahead.
"I know we're in a rebuilding stage and this is [Gee's] first year," Woodhouse said. "I know next year we have a lot of talent coming in. We'll be all right."