Lucas, who later starred on an NCAA championship Ohio State University team and as an Olympian and as a NBA hall of famer, is delivering the keynote at this year’s Ohio Turfgrass Conference at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center, here. Syngenta is sponsoring the keynote along with the awards and scholarships portion of the program that begins at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10.
Lucas led Middletown to two consecutive undefeated seasons, which resulted in back-to-back state championships. In the final four of the 1956 state tournament, Lucas, as a 6-foot-7 15-year-old, torched Cleveland East Tech for 53 points in the semi-final game before lighting up Canton McKinley with 44 points in the state championship for a total of 97 points, a state record that still stands.
"I may have been the best, youngest basketball player who ever lived," Lucas, 74, said recently. Lucas isn’t living in the past. Lucas realizes his basketball skills were a God-given talent, as was his mind. That said, he spent hours sharpening both attributes.
Today, Lucas is recognized as a memory education expert with several books on memory development to his credit. He wants to change the way children learn. For several years he has been working on an animated website, known as Doctor M’s Universe (Lucas is Doctor M, as in Doctor Memory), which is geared toward educating children.
"When it’s done and in place, education will be revolutionized forever," Lucas said.
Schools have relied too long on teaching children through repetition, which Lucas said isn’t healthy.
"Repetition isn’t fun, and it never will be," he added.
In Lucas’ first career, professional basketball, he won an NBA championship with the New York Knicks. His teammates included Phil Jackson, Bill Bradley, Willis Reed and Dave DeBusschere. That championship came after Lucas guided the 1960 Ohio State Buckeyes to an NCAA men’s basketball title, led the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team to a Gold Medal and achieved the two high school state titles at Middletown. He was the first basketball player ever to win high school, college, Olympic and professional titles.
Despite his success on the basketball court – in 1996 Lucas was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history – he says his second career as a memory educator is more rewarding.
"It’s something that makes a difference in people’s lives," he said.
Lucas, who lives in Florida, has fond memories of growing up in Middletown, which in the 1940s and 1950s was a high school basketball powerhouse.
"It was a down-to-earth Midwestern town," Lucas said of Middletown. "It was a great atmosphere for athletics, especially basketball."
Lucas said he was looking forward to speaking at OTF, especially about how it’s never too late to learn.
"I love the opportunity to let people know what I’m doing," he said. "I want to get them excited about learning as well."