Jan. 10, 2014
The Varsity Ohio staff recently spoke with former Ohio Men's Basketball player Walter "Put it in the Bucket" Luckett. Walter agreed to help us kick off Varsity Ohio's "Get to Know an Ohio Athletic Hall of Famer", where we interview former stand-out Bobcat student-athletes to ask about their experiences at Ohio University. He was inducted into the Kermit Blosser Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986.
Luckett, who once graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, is a Bobcat Legend. His number 34 jersey hangs in the rafters of the Convocation Center. As a student-athlete, Walter was a two-time All-MAC selection and was named MAC Player of the Year in 1974. During that same year he led the Bobcats to a MAC title and berth in the NCAA Tournament. Following his career at Ohio he was selected with the 27th overall selection in the NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. Currently, Walter resides in Hamden, Connecticut.
Without further ado, here is our first edition of Get to Know an Ohio Athletic Hall of Famer!
Varsity Ohio: What brought you to Ohio University?
Walter Luckett: A good family friend of mine took me on a trip to Ohio University. It was actually my first college visit. I grew up pretty much in the inner city, but I always liked the country. There was great diversity on campus and the university had a business school I was very interested in. It met all my needs. Plus I loved the Convo! It blew me away. It was just a beautiful school.
Varsity Ohio: The Convo had just opened up a few years prior to you arriving in Athens. Can you talk about playing there and in front of the Ohio fans?
Luckett: It was a very special experience. You have to live it to really understand it. The first time you walk into the Convo, the atmosphere just grabs you! I happened to catch a basketball game while I was on my official visit and it was just electrifying. The fans were very much engaged and it had the best band in the land! It was really exciting because I love music and our band was really state of the art. So it just had the atmosphere that a young ball player would like.
Varsity Ohio: Describe what it means to compete here at Ohio University and what it means to be a Bobcat?
Luckett: The competition back in my day was really good. Believe it or not, I think seven guys were drafted into the NBA in my junior year alone. In regards to the competition, it matched any conference in the country. Also, the rivalries were great because if you think about it, so many of the schools we played were within the state of Ohio. That made it special as well.
Varsity Ohio: What was your favorite memory as a student-athlete?
Luckett: When we beat Bowling Green for the MAC Championship my sophomore year and then the ensuing trip to the NCAA Tournament. That title was special because everyone wants to win a championship.
Varsity Ohio: What was your favorite memory as an alum?
Luckett: When we went to the Sweet 16 in 2012 I flew out to St. Louis. To see the camaraderie among alumni and the electricity in the building all come together in front of my eyes, it was special. It was special to see I don't know how many years later after we played in the tournament. It was just great to see. It was just a very special and unique environment.
Varsity Ohio: You gave an amazing pre-game speech at the Bobcat Bash in St Louis. I think everyone was pumped to play North Carolina after that!
Luckett: The people that go to Ohio University are really behind the Bobcats. It's a great, great institution. It was fun to be there for that exciting moment in Ohio University history.
Varsity Ohio: What was it like to play for Head Coach Jim Snyder?
Luckett: Well Coach Snyder, he was one of the main reasons I went to Ohio. We shared a lot of the same values. When I was being recruited, he was the only one to talk to me about his values and that really stood out to me.
He was special with the Xs & Os and his record stood for itself. His assistant coaches were very supportive of his philosophy and bought in. He was a great man. His wife and his son, Todd, were awesome people as well. A sports oriented family.
Varsity Ohio: What advice would you give the current team and future Bobcats?
Luckett: I would say to them, know why you are there. When I left school early it was a lesson because I had to go back and get my undergraduate degree. Since then I have also got my master's in finance too. But the question you have to ask yourself is, "what are you going to do when they let the air out of the ball?" It's important that you get your education because basketball is a fun game but your education is for life. I'm a living testament to that.
I'll tell you the best thing I have done is earned my college degree because I have been able to start my own company. In addition, I've worked for Unilever for 30 years. So it's important to love the game and put as much effort as you can into it, but at the end of the day, that degree is special. That is something a lot of young people don't realize until after they are done with their time in college. But education is paramount.
Varsity Ohio: What have you been involved with after your time as an Ohio University student?
Luckett: There were a few years where I played basketball professionally and then I went on to work at Unilever for a long time. Currently I am the General Manager for the ECHO program, pioneered by the Justice Education Center in West Hartford, Connecticut. This initiative focuses on building character and strengthening life skills by reinforcing positive behaviors. We do this through social and character development, academic and career development, and ensuring physical and mental wellbeing. Our organization is funded by the State of Connecticut's General Assembly and operates in six cities serving 5,500 students.
Also, I help host a few basketball leagues in which around 3,000 kids come out every summer. We're just trying to provide opportunities for kids through these different programs and this is something I am very proud of.
Finally, my wife Valita and I are going to be having our 40th wedding anniversary soon. She transferred to Ohio our junior year. Athens and Ohio University is a very special place to both of us.
Varsity Ohio: When are you planning your next trip to Athens?
Luckett: I make it back once every few years typically during the basketball season for a game. With everything going on I get pretty busy during the school year. I can't wait to get back as I always love being in Athens!
The goal of Varsity Ohio is to re-engage former Ohio student-athletes, managers, and trainers with Ohio Athletics and provide opportunities for them to re-connect with former teammates and friends. We do this through hosting on campus reunions and offering other benefits to our members. Varsity Ohio is free to join and those that competed on a varsity sport while at Ohio can sign up by clicking here.