A year of living in the shadows of Stony Brook's basketball program has ended for Lucas Woodhouse, and the Greenlawn resident is ready to emerge in the spotlight as the starting point guard for a Seawolves team that is the preseason favorite in the America East conference.
Woodhouse is a rare local hero, a former Newsday Long Island player of the year his senior year at Harborfields High School who will play for Stony Brook. When he transferred from Longwood University in Virginia, where he ranked fifth in the country as a sophomore with 6.7 assists per game, Seawolves coach Steve Pikiell welcomed him with open arms even though he had to sit out last season under NCAA transfer rules.
"He's a real good defender, which I'm really excited about," Pikiell said on Wednesday at SBU media day. "I knew he was a terrific passer. He's tough. He can shoot threes. He just sees the floor. He thinks about passing and makes plays for people. He's a different kind of player than we've had. We're really excited about him. He's brought a new dimension for sure."
As a pass-first point guard, Woodhouse should take pressure off senior Carson Puriefoy III, who will team with him in the backcourt and play off the ball more often. And a Woodhouse-to-Jameel Warney connection in the low post should become a productive part of the Stony Brook offense.
After practicing with the Seawolves all last season, the watching finally ended when he played with them last summer on a European tour. "It was definitely hard [sitting out], but I learned a lot," Woodhouse said. "Now I know what the league is like, and I know what coach wants from me and the team. So it was a good learning experience to see the game from a different view. It got me ready for this year, and I'm excited."
Changing roles in the backcourt definitely requires an adjustment by Puriefoy, but Woodhouse is confident their chemistry is developing well. "Tre is one of my good friends," Woodhouse said. "We try to have fun out there. We go at it in practice sometimes when I'm on the white [backup] squad.
"We just try to make each other better on the court. We're trying to play faster this year, get up and down a little bit more. It's been good so far."
Many times last season Pikiell fretted that his best passer was sitting out. But the coach couldn't be happier with his backcourt now.
"Woodhouse really can shoot from outside," Pikiell said. "Statistically, he's probably the best from outside on our team. He gives us a lot of different looks. [Woodhouse and Puriefoy] have been good together, as I would expect. It's two good guards that are versatile and can play off the ball or on the ball. It's been kind of an easy adjustment."