McKinley Tech’s Christian Lutete blossoming into college prospect

McKinley Tech‘s Christian Lutete has scored 30 points in three games this season, but the most efficient game of his high school career may have come last Friday in a 66-52 win over H.D. Woodson. Lutete hit three three-pointers and was perfect from the foul line to finish with 21 points. And with the Trainers’ top two big men out with injuries, the 6-foot-3 forward was moved from the perimeter to the post to help stop the Warriors’ front line. No H.D. Woodson player scored more than 12 points.

McKinley Tech forward Christian Lutete has earned interest from Rutgers, Marshall and Rider, among others. (Photo by I95ballerz.com) McKinley Tech forward Christian Lutete has earned interest from Rutgers, Marshall and Rider, among others. (Photo by I95ballerz.com)

It was the type of performance that separates college from high school players, McKinley Tech Coach Ali Foster told Lutete. It was the type of performance that Lutete didn’t know was possible two years ago at St. John’s, biding his time as a skinny sophomore buried deep on the Cadets’ junior varsity bench.

“These two years have been a rollercoaster. Been a great experience,” Lutete said. “My junior year was actually my first year playing high school basketball. I just really worked on my game…just kind of made things possible.”

What’s possible now, two years later, is a McKinley Tech run at the DCIAA title. A year after winning 21 games, the Trainers (9-4, 2-1) are in the thick of the league race once again behind the leadership of Lutete, who is averaging 20.3 points per game. He burst onto the scene as a junior, leading the team in scoring (17.6 points per game) and three-pointers made (53), and after being held to just five points in the season opener against Pallotti, he has put up similar numbers as a senior.

He has hit multiple three-pointers in five games, and has shown an improved ability to make plays off the dribble. Lutete has already reached the foul line 64 times this winter (72 percent), and gone 13-of-14 in a win over Dunbar in December. He finished that game with 30 points and 12 rebounds and called it a turning point to the season. Last week’s win over H.D. Woodson was another, as it knocked the Warriors out of first place in the DCIAA.

“Obviously, [we’re] going to have to be able to play at a high level in big games. And that comes from just buying into the program and playing for each other. I think we play for each other,” Lutete said. “We really don’t have to worry about what other teams do, but worry about how we execute.”

Rutgers, Marshall and Rider have shown interest in Lutete, who has also gotten inquiries from Ivy League schools Penn, Harvard and Cornell. Sacred Heart came to watch him work out earlier this year as well, and his college options could only grow during the season. Lutete said he is poised to make a decision after the season. He is hoping a school will take a chance on a player who had to resurrect his career after leaving a WCAC power two years ago.

“Everything we’re going to see, we’ve already seen it,” Lutete said. “What I think I had to work on was expanding my game from just being a shooter to taking it to the basket to creating my shot off the dribble, and creating opportunities for others.”

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.

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Tariq Lee · January 14, 2014