We caught up with Luke Rankin for a quick Q&A about player development. Luke recently made the move away from Redditch to join Action Sports Academy Prep in Atlanta, USA to help further his career. Prior to heading to the States, Luke made a name for himself in the West Midlands before joining British Basketball League (BBL) franchise Plymouth Raiders at the age of 17.
1) How did you first get involved with Basketball?
I first got involved in middle school: I attended St. Bedes. A P.E teacher asked me to join the basketball team, for no other reason than I was a lot taller than all the other kids my age. From there I discovered I had a talent for the sport and I fell in love with the game.
2) How did the move to ASA happen?
Long story… when I was training with Birmingham Knights and Plymouth Raiders (BBL) I became very close friends with American guard Brent Benson, who is from Atlanta. In 2015 I got recruited out of Plymouth, by a different prep school in Atlanta, but it turned out to be a pretty bad situation. While I was at the prep school I went and stayed with Brent and I would workout at his training programme: ‘B3 Academy’. He wanted to help me get to a better programme, as he thought that I had the talent to play in the States. He and his staff, at B3 Academy, took me to various showcases and try-outs. He got me an offer from Chattahoochee Tech (Junior College) but the programme eventually got cut, so then he took me to try-out for ASA Prep. Head Coach David Harrison liked me and signed me for the season.
3) What are the main differences between playing at Prep School level in the States and your experiences in the Birmingham & Plymouth Academies?
The biggest difference playing prep school is the speed of the game, it’s so fast and most of the players are extremely athletic! I was able to adjust and had a very successful season. I’ve been a starter for ASA Prep all season, averaged 13 ppg and had a season high 24pts vs Alabama Prep.
4) How is the coaching different in the USA?
The coaching at prep school is a lot different to back home because everyone is at prep school with the goal of going on to play college; they focus a lot more on individual player development. At ASA we practice everyday: in the weight room, on the court and conditioning.
5) What’s the current situation regarding college offers?
I haven’t received any official offers yet but I’ve had a lot of interest from colleges. They are in talks with my coaches at ASA and they have come to my games to watch me play… so I’m sure I’ll sign very soon.
6) How difficult is it to combine your academic workload with the training and playing?
I didn’t take classes this season as my grades are already good enough to go to college, but when I was in Plymouth and Birmingham it was tough. I would have practice in the morning, with the academy, before school, then I would go straight to class. After school was finished I would go to BBL practice and my day was pretty much done. In-between I’d have homework to complete, so it can be tough to manage. However, if you can get yourself in a routine you can get it done. It’s definitely mentally and physically tiring.
7) Would you consider going to a British university with a good basketball programme if you couldn’t find the right college in the USA?
If I don’t find a college in the USA I will try and play in the BBL. It would be great to find a university that is affiliated with a BBL team: so I could study and still play at the same time. I’m sure it’s something I will look at doing if required.
8) What are your long term ambitions in the game?
My long term ambitions in basketball are to have a successful college career in the USA, graduate and go on to play professionally.
Image: ASA Prep