Ryan Luther is a 24 year old 206cm forward from Allison Park, Pennsylvania playing his rookie season for BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL). He began his basketball career at Hampton High School and then played 84 NCAA games with Pittsburgh (NCAA) before finishing at the University of Arizona (NCAA) playing 32 games averaging 8.4ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 51.4%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 76.5%. He spoke to germanhoops.com before a Fiba Europe Cup game against medi Bayreuth in Bayreuth.
Ryan thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Before we get to the interview, I have to ask you about the amazing sports family history that you share. Your siblings all played basketball and are the second family in WPIAL history to have four siblings score over 1,000 career points: Ryan (1,968), Collin (1,033) and his older brother Bill, Jr. and older sister Jodie also scored over 1,000. Your cousin played in the NFL and uncle in the NCAA. What have been the biggest advantages of having this family history?
I think just being around the game of basketball and sports was important. My older brothers and cousins were always talking hoops and this helped me gain the passion.
Welcome to Germany. Is this your first time here? What do you know in general about the country and it’s basketball?
I don’t know too much, but I do know that the German league is very good. My ex teammate at Pittsburgh was James Robinson. It was good seeing him a few weeks ago.
BK Ventspils is off to an excellent start in the Fiba Europe Cup. The club is averaging 90 points per game and allowing 74 points per game and grabbing 40 rebounds per game. What has been the secret to the success? It seems like everything is gelling early.
I think that everybody has done their part. Everybody shows up each day and does what coach says. We play hard and together which has been the difference.
Your playing your rookie season in Latvia for BK Ventspils. The club has won 11 titles since 2000. In the last few years BK Ventspils have had a great record of winning titles or reaching finals. How big are the club expectations to win titles in general?
I knew when I came here that BK Ventspils was a great organization. I also knew that they had a great winning tradition. It is up to us to keep it going. We want to play well and pay our respect to the club, fans and city. I think that we have the pieces to win a title. We have to continue to get better each day.
What has it been like sharing the floor with veteran point guard Wes Washpun? What have you learned to appreciate most about his game in the early going?
Wes is a great player. He is a god defender and passer and knows how to get all involved.
When you arrived in Ventspils and found out that TJ Shorts was your teammate, did you remember he had played against you last season with Arizona beating you 70-68 while he dropped 25 points?
Yeh when I saw his name, I remembered him. He had a good game. He has done a great job for us here.
What have you learned to appreciate the most about TJ Shorts on and off the court? Have you bonded in a special way since your both rookies?
He is a very unselfish player. He is a good passer and can get into the lane. Since we are two of the Americans here, we have gotten pretty close. We have had a good relationship on and off the court.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 206cm forward. Would it be fair to say that you’re a modern day forward?
Yes I would say so. I can shoot the ball and stretch the defense and create more room for my teammates as well as rebound and guard bigs.
You have put up very good stats in the Latvian league averaging 10/9 stats and shooting over 40% from outside. What has been easy to adjust to on the court and what hasn’t been so easy yet?
I think the most difficult thing to adjust to here was the style of play. It is a lot more physical in Europe. My teammates and coaching staff have done a good job helping me get adjusted in letting me play to my strengths so I can help the team win games
If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
I can’t answer that.
You shot over 40% from outside twice at Pittsburgh (NCAA) and shot in the high 30% at Arizona. You really increased your attempts as a senior. How do you see your shooting developing as a rookie? Do you see your three being one of your weapons?
Yes I see my three being a weapon. If it’s on transition or off the pick and roll, my teammates have confidence in me making the shot. I think that I can help my team with my three.
On what things are you working on as a rookie? How much pride do you take in your defensive play? You showed in the NCAA that you can be a solid shot blocker.
Being in the right position on rotations and in pick and roll defense.
You were four years at Pittsburgh (NCAA). You were able to really heighten your game in your fourth year averaging 12/10 stats. But an injury ended your season in January 2018. Do you ever wonder how your NCAA career may have gone had you not got injured?
I have thought about it, but stuff happens for a reason. I got hurt and then I was fortunate to get another opportunity at Arizona. Playing a fifth year at Arizona was a blessing and I really enjoyed it.
As a freshman you lost to Duke (NCAA) 79-65 and played against more than a handful of future NBA players. What memories do you have of that game?
I don’t have many memories of that game. It was so long ago. I played against a lot of NBA guys and athletic guys that have done good things in the NBA and overseas.
You reached the NCAA tournament as a sophomore. How wild was the 47-43 loss to Wisconsin. What kind of experience was it playing at the big dance and losing a nail bitter like that?
Anytime you reach the NCAA tournament it is special. Every guy dreams of getting there. Losing that game was tough, but we had a great group of guys. I remember it fondly.
You had many very solid games at Arizona, but mostly in losing causes. Was your 16 points and 11 boards in the 82-71 win against Oregon State one of your fondest memories at Arizona?
I don’t know if that game was my fondest, but I just enjoyed the time with my teammates and coaches. I wish we would of won a few more games, but I look back at that time very fondly.
How did head coach Sean Miller groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He is a good coach and guy. I learned something from him each day wheather it was about terminology or style. He instilled a lot of confidence in me to make plays and be there for my teammates and to make shots
Who won a one on one in practice you or Chase Jeter?
He is a great player and kid. I played together with him at the 4/5 position. He has one more year there. We never played one on one.
Who is the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that then reached the NBA?
I can’t name just one player. I played against many great schools and players at North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse, Louisville and Gonzaga.
If you had to construct your own personal NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you pick that bets fits your taste?
Lebron, Jordan, Kareem and Magic
Where will the journey of the Golden State Warriors go now with the injury to Steph Curry? Is the Dynasty now over?
They still have great players. They have hit the injury bug. I won’t be surprised if they come back and contend for the title when all are healthy and when they have some new young guys.
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Everybody my age say Lebron. I say it also. All that he has done speaks for itself.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Joker was weird and creepy, but I liked it.
Thanks Ryan for the chat.