WHEATLAND – Like everything else that has been altered this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the biggest awards in Wyoming high school basketball will not be awarded publicly at the Wyoming/Montana all-star basketball festivities as that has been cancelled.
Luke Anderson, recent 2020 graduate of Wheatland High School has been awarded the Wyoming Mr. Basketball award. The highest award a player can receive in the sport of basketball. The award is based upon many things included academics, athletics and attitude.
According to Anderson’s coach Mick Cochran, “Luke was a player that put in a lot of time outside of the season developing as a basketball player. He is also a great student and will be heading to the Air Force Academy in a few weeks. It was a great experience getting to coach him and watch him grow.”
The Wheatland graduate is born and bred right here in Wheatland and grew up playing many sports including basketball, football, baseball and cross country.
According to Anderson, he can’t remember this award going to any player from Wheatland in the past.
“I’ve always been around sports,” Anderson said. “I was on a traveling team when I was pretty young, and we had seven of us who ended up playing Varsity together. I think we started in 4th or 5th grade.”
Anderson said that when he was young, baseball was his main and his favorite sport, playing in traveling teams that played as far away as Denver.
“I didn’t really like basketball, to be honest,” he said. “I was young and I didn’t play much and I just played it because my buddies were, and eventually it became my passion. Now it’s my favorite sport.”
As far as playing college basketball at the Air Force Academy Anderson sees a lot of tough competition although he said that it’s an option.
“I can try to walk on to the basketball team,” Anderson said. “I’m actually leaving for basic training in 14 days.”
The way Anderson found out that he had won the prestigious award was “kind of a funny story.”
“I have a buddy from Cheyenne who texted me congratulations,” Anderson said. “And I said, ‘for what?’ And his reply was ‘are you serious?’ Then he sent me the tweet and a picture and I was freakin’ out. I was right in the middle of a baseball game against Douglas.”
As in many things that have kind of slipped through the cracks with the pandemic, notifying athletes of their awards must evidently be one of those things, since Anderson had to find out from a tweet from a friend in Cheyenne.
His career in high school started on JV as a freshman. From there he saw a little varsity time as a sophomore and junior year is where he began to make his mark and found himself in the starting lineup. By the time his senior year was ended, he led 3A in scoring with 17 ppg and 5 assists per game.
In recounting the bitter end to his senior year, he was noticeably disappointed with the outcome. The team had been minutes away from boarding a bus to the state tournament when they were informed that the tournament had been cancelled.
“It was awful,” Anderson said. “I was in English class we were about to load the bus in 10 minutes. First we got the notification that there could be no parents and viewers and then 15 minutes later they cancelled it completely. It’s rough because I only went to state my junior year.”
He mentioned that looking back to the Buffalo game, it would be the last time he laced up for Wheatland.
“I thought I had a whole other tournament,” he said. “But then it was over.”
An honor to win this award, and the memory and the story will always be that Luke Anderson won the Mr. Basketball award the year of the COVID0-19. And if there is a bright side, he realized that only four teams in the state usually walk off the court having won their last game. Anderson can say he won the last high school game he played. Few athletes ever get to say that, and fewer yet can say that they have been Mr. Basketball.
The complete interview with Anderson will appear on a future episode of HOMESPUN, our weekly web-based television program. For more information about HOMESPUN, please visit the PC Record-Times Facebook page or the website at: www.pcrecordtimes.com