Athlete of the Week: Luwane Pipkins

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Luwane Pipkins is the family rebel.

The fourth youngest in a family of star football players, Pipkins’ preferred sport is basketball. His oldest brothers, twins Juwane and Duwane, were star football players at Robeson three years ago.

The next in line, Kewane Pipkins, was the best football player at Harper and graduated in 2012.

“They all played basketball, too, but they were better known for football,” Luwane Pipkins said.

“What happened is the grammar school I went to didn’t have football, so I just concentrated on basketball and I just got better,” he said.

The junior 5-10 guard is one of the state’s most electrifying players. If he does not dominate a game physically like Jahlil Okafor or Cliff Alexander, Pipkins is a star who plays his best on the biggest stage.

He proved that emphatically last week with three great individual performances. He hit four early three-pointers and set the tone for the Bengals’ 51-47 upset of the defending Class 3A state champion Morgan Park by scoring a game-high 24 points.

He followed up with 20 points in the Bengals’ rout of Brooks. He topped his week by scoring 34 points in Bogan’s 63-52 victory over Farragut in a Public League shootout at Chicago State.

For his accomplishments, Luwane Pipkins is the Chicago Sun-Times Athlete of the Week.

Pipkins has powered the No. 4 Bengals to a 9-1 start and a 2-0 first-place standing in the Red-South as Bogan prepares to play Glenbrook North in its first-round tournament game at the Proviso West Holiday tournament on Thursday.

Pipkins used the disappointing memory of his performance against Morgan Park at last year’s Proviso West tournament for motivation. Pipkins was shut out from the field against the Mustangs in a quarterfinal game last year.

“Before the Morgan Park game, my dad reminded me of how they shut me down last year at Proviso,” Pipkins said. “I was really focused and motivated coming into the game because we felt like people had underestimated us coming into the game.”

Pipkins has never lacked for confidence. After the Morgan Park game, he proclaimed himself the best guard in the city.

“I really like giving people a show, but the biggest thing is bringing my team to victory.”

He credited his improvement to a sharper understanding of the game’s subtleties.

“I’ve really worked hard on getting my teammates involved and helping put them in position where they can take over and dominate if they have to,” he said. “We have a young team, but we have a lot of talent.”

Bogan coach Arthur Goodwin said Pipkins combines talent with a great drive.

“He has the heart of a lion and he just never stops,” Goodwin said. “He really competes out there.”

Goodwin said Pipkins’ elevated understanding has been crucial to the team’s development.

“We’re trying to change the culture and be a team that knows how to play smart and play with the lead and be a controlled team, like the Simeon teams of Bob Hambric,” Goodwin said.

Pipkins has drawn recruiting interest from DePaul, UIC, Bradley, DePaul, Loyola, NIU and Creighton, among others. His greatest desire is elevating Bogan’s profile to that of Simeon, Morgan Park or Young.

“We have heart, we have speed and we want to win a championship.”

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