Men’s Basketball Senior spotlight
Catalyst for change
Senior men’s basketball co-captain Lucas Williamson stands up for what he believes in—on and off the court
Sitting in a car on the way to a family member’s house on May 26, 2020, Lucas Williamson looked down on his ringing phone. A familiar name appeared on the screen and Williamson’s stomach churned. He felt like a fifth grader being summoned to the principal’s office.
“Whenever [Loyola University head basketball coach Porter Moser] calls me, I expect the worst,” Williamson says with an innocent chuckle.
On this day, Moser simply wanted to chat with Williamson, a rising senior and one of his team’s principal leaders. The day prior, video surfaced of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin, a widely viewed act that would soon inspire loud protests in more than 150 American cities, including Chicago. Moser wanted to know how Williamson was feeling, an earnest question that put Williamson, admittedly disturbed by the circulating video of Floyd’s death, at ease. Moser assured Williamson that he was committed to finding solutions and interested in ways the Loyola basketball program could ensure an inclusive, respectful environment.
In Moser’s voice, Williamson recognized support, encouragement, and sincerity. And it mattered. “Hearing from coach let me know that other people were feeling the same way and are about this issue in the right way, and that gave me hope,” Williamson says.
When Williamson first arrived at Loyola in fall 2017, a self-described “curious kid” with big dreams, he was an 18-year-old leaving his West Loop roots for life on the North Side. Living on his own for the first time, Williamson wondered about his ability to conquer the challenges ahead. Could he compete in big-time college basketball? Could he balance athletics and academics? Could he position himself for a successful future?
As a freshman, Williamson emerged a key reserve on the 2017-2018 Loyola squad that earned the Ramblers their first NCAA Tournament berth in 33 years and their first Final Four appearance since JFK inhabited the Oval Office. That historic March Madness run elevated the profile of Loyola’s basketball program and its players, Williamson included.
Six months after the season’s conclusion, in fact, Williamson found himself at Loyola’s 2018 Founders’ Dinner, the University’s annual fundraising event for student scholarships. After Jill Biden offered a stirring keynote speech about academic accessibility, Williamson walked to the dais at Chicago’s Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. “It almost felt like a setup, like how was I supposed to follow that?” Williamson recalls.
But as he did on the court amid nerves and glaring eyeballs, Williamson delivered. He spoke about education opening doors, his commitment to being a student athlete, and representing the Loyola community. As the room rose in applause at the end, Williamson smiled.
It can’t get better than this, he thought.