Jr. | Guard | 5’10”
Role: Deep Reserve
As the lights flashed and fireworks went boom over Ross-Ade, Purdue football and its storming fans celebrated its biggest program win in a decade, but the game, a historically one-sided upset over #2 ranked Ohio State(3rd largest margin of victory for an unranked team defeating a #2 team in the nation), was a reminder that sometimes what happens off the field is more important than what happens on it.
Cue: the real star of the Purdue basketball team, Tommy Luce.
First thing you notice is that he doesn’t look like a division 1 athlete. His small frame combined with his baby-face, and he could start for most high school teams right now and the opposing fans wouldn’t think anything of it.
Unless there were any Boiler fans in the crowd that is because there’s not been a sensation like Tommy Luce in quite the time. Walk-ons are always fan favorites, especially the local ones, but there’s been something else brewing when Luce checks into a blow-out. There’s been some sort of organizational grouping of female fans of his, known in some circles, as Luce women.
And that was before the videos.
If you go to a game at Mackey Arena, it’s not a guarantee you’ll see the phenomenon that is Tommy Luce on the court. But keep your eye on the new jumbotron between TV breaks and you will see Luce directing a calisthenics group through various basic stretches while drawing on an 80’s nostalgia of headbands and spandex that he definitely wasn’t alive for.
It’s been a hit.
The segments, cleverly titled, Getting Loose with Tommy Luce, is just fuel to an already raging fire.
But the culmination of the Luce sensation isn’t just social media driven or videos put together by Purdue’s excellent media team. Despite the little frame, Luce, like all walk-ons, has skill. He’s a quick and twitchy guard who doesn’t just settle for dribbling the clock out. Instead, he’s out there to cross people over and dump off no-look passes and make it on Sportscenter.
After two seasons at Purdue, Luce has only played 60 minutes, but basketball as in life, is all about what you do with the chances you get. Opening up Sportscenter? That’s a pretty good way to make the most of your time.
But of course, that’s not even the happy ending of this story.
Tommy Luce, Mackey King and fan-favorite, Scott Van Pelt-favorite, Sportscenter highlight, and full scholarship Purdue basketball player. A Boilermaker.