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Abington product Lucas Monroe transfers from Penn to Drexel

05/02/2023, 4:45pm EDT
By Myles Berry

By Myles Berry (@MABerry21)

Sometimes basketball is a landscape where winning doesn’t always come first for players. Other motivations like money, professional aspirations, and individual stats/records might sway a player to make a decision regarding their future. 

That can’t be said about Drexel’s newest player Lucas Monroe

After wrapping up his Penn career with a 77-70 loss to Princeton in the Ivy Madness semifinal, Monroe knew where he’d play next had to be a team he could help win.

“It was really a basketball decision this time around,” said Monroe, who announced his transfer to Drexel last week. “ [...] I wanted to go somewhere where I can have an immediate impact and have a role.”

Lucas Monroe plays for Penn against Drexel at the DAC last season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Although the senior guard’s time with Penn is up, he still has a year of basketball eligibility because of the COVID-19 impacted 2020-21 college hoops season, which was canceled in its entirety for the Ivy League. After spending four years at Penn, Monroe could no longer play for the Quakers due to Ivy League rules.

In the transfer portal Monroe had schools like Howard, Northeastern, Cal State-Bakersfield, Sacred Heart, Delaware, St. Bonaventure, Central Arkansas, Manhattan College and Wagner reach out to him. He chose to stay in University City at Drexel. 

The Abington native’s main reason for the walk down the street wasn’t mainly based on proximity, comfortability or even the fact that his father was a former player for the Dragons, but rather dated back to his relationship with Dragons’ head coach Zach Spiker from his high school recruitment.

“Coach Spiker runs a similar system to coach [Steve] Donahue,” Monroe said. “They coached together for a few years at Cornell and he was one of the first coaches to recruit me in high school.”

“My name is in the portal, he's one of the first coaches to reach out,” Monroe said. “[...] You always want to be somewhere where you're wanted, and he's been recruiting me since I was 16. So, you know that that means a lot to me, so, it seemed like a perfect fit.”

Thanks in part to that connection with Spiker, the Dragons are receiving a ‘swiss army knife’ type of player.

Last season at Penn, Monroe was one of only two players to play in all 30 games, starting in 25 of those games. He also hasn’t missed a game throughout his entire career at Penn, playing in all 85 games. 

He averaged 4.9 points per game, his best scoring output coming against Dartmouth (13 points). He also finished third on the team in assists with 62 assists this past season (2.1 apg), tallying a season-high seven assists against Cornell. Not only was Monroe second on his team in blocked shots (18), but he led his team in rebounding (6 rpg) while adding 19 steals on the season as well.

His 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame allows him to body up opposing guards and close out well on shooters, while also being able to switch onto other guards and forwards. On an Ivy League scale Monroe’s defensive and rebounding numbers match up with some of the best. His 6.0 rpg were seventh-best in the league and his blocked shots per game (0.6) rankedtenth-best in the league. 

“The decision to get Lucas wasn’t Big 5 predicated,” Zach Spiker said.  “It was a chance to add a very talented player who can play multiple positions, defend, and can play multiple positions on offense and defense, and I think that was very attractive for our program and where we’re at right now.”

Monroe’s move to Drexel is predicated on the belief that Drexel has the potential to win the CAA league next year, and possibly make an NCAA tournament run. The Dragons lost to UNCW in the second round of the CAA tournament last season, but return 12 of their top 13 scorers, including 6-foot-10 forward Amari Williams (13.7 ppg) and 6-3 guard Justin Moore (9.6). The addition of Monroe should help keep Drexel (17-15, 10-8 CAA) on pace with the top teams in the CAA after finishing fifth in the league last season.

Monroe basically has everything that a player could want from a collegiate standpoint, except a championship, which is the last thing he wants to check off his list. 

“It would be the perfect ending,” Monroe said. “I’ve always wanted to step on the court in the NCAA Tournament, so it would be a dream come true, we lost two opportunities to do so at Penn due to covid, so one last chance for me is huge.”

Acquainting himself with Drexel and establishing his voice in the locker room won’t be a challenge for Monroe. Whether it was in pickup games or going against them when he was on Penn, he has already played basketball with some of the Dragons, including fellow local products Luke House (Archbishop Carroll), Dean Wang (Friends’ Select) and Justin Moore (Archbishop Wood).

On and off the court, the fifth-year wing, who was co-captain for Penn in 2021-22, has leadership experience and will look to bring that experience to Drexel’s locker room.

“I think I've been in a leadership position on most teams that I've been in, going back to Abington and being at Penn,” Monroe said. “So, I would hope to be in a similar position at Drexel and I think that's something that comes naturally, and I think that's naturally kind of a role that I gravitated towards.”

While he says farewell to Penn, Monroe is also thankful for his time there.

“I'll definitely miss playing in the Palestra, there's nothing like the Palestra,” Monroe said. “[...] I'll definitely miss the pleasure of playing in front of you know, Penn fans, I love a lot of our fans. I love the alumni. They really support us coming to away games, no matter how far they are already on holiday stuff like that.”

There won’t be much looking back for Monroe though, because he knows that this is his last chance to win a championship and he will be locked in for his last year. 

“You always miss things like that, but I'm really looking forward to the new experience at Drexel,” Monroe said.

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