Off the basketball court, Nikki Luckhurst's sophomore year at Tulane has been a bit odd.
Displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina like the rest of her teammates, she lives in Lubbock, Texas, and goes to classes at Texas Tech until Tulane opens back up for school on Jan. 17. So far the Green Wave's games have been played in Texas, although the team returns to its own gym later this month.
Basketball-wise, things are going just as planned for the sophomore.
Luckhurst averages 10.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.5 steals early in the season for Tulane, which is in Tucson, Ariz, this weekend for the Fiesta Bowl Classic. The 5-foot-8 guard leads the Green Wave in rebounds, assists and steals.
"Nikki has worked really hard in the offseason to improve her game," Wesleyan girls coach Jan Azar said of her former player. "The success that she is experiencing this year is definitely a result of her determination to be the best she can be. I am very proud of Nikki's accomplishments on and off the court."
Luckhurst's play has stepped up from her freshman season, when she made just one start but played in 23 of 27 games. She was just a newcomer last season, but now she's one of the more experienced players on a team with no seniors and one junior.
She said the team has bonded well in its new surroundings. None of the players have cars and Texas Tech's sprawling campus is much different than Tulane's smaller setting, but the players are headed back to New Orleans in two weeks.
Luckhurst's dorm survived the hurricane with little damage, so most of her belongings are fine, with the exception of her car. She left it at the airport when she fled Katrina and it got totaled.
"It's been different, not really what I was expecting out of my sophomore year," Luckhurst said. "We've already played one conference game because it worked out that way since our schedule is all messed up. It's very different here but it's brought us closer together as a team. There's only 10 of us."
Luckhurst had 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in Tulane's 84-79 win over Howard in the opener and added 10 points, eight rebounds and five steals in a Conference USA win over Texas El-Paso. She also had 20 points in an exhibition win over West Texas A&M.
Morgan helps Kennesaw State to debut win
Andre Morgan's clutch plays in the final seconds helped Kennesaw State to a 67-66 win over Lipscomb on Thursday night in the Owls' Atlantic Sun Conference debut.
The Buford grad made a steal on the press with his team behind and was fouled on the ensuing rebound. He made the two game-winning free throws with eight seconds left, then hounded the shooter as Lipscomb missed its final shot at a win.
SMU's Sturdivant gets second-team honor
Despite a good argument for first-team honors, Southern Methodist's Joey Sturdivant was named to the All-Conference USA second team in football. The Parkview grad led the conference in passes defended, ranked fourth in tackles and twice won the league's defensive player of the week award.
The defensive back led SMU with 112 tackles, the highest number for a Mustang player since 2000. He's the first strong safety to lead the team in tackles since 1993.
Flagler, Skeen earn Big South honors
Gardner-Webb wide receiver DuVaughn Flagler, a Norcross grad, was named first-team All-Big South Conference and also was runner-up in conference Offensive Player of the Year voting. Flagler, a sophomore, had 55 receptions for 826 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, capping the year with a 14-catch, 210-yard, 3-TD game vs. Wofford.
Teammate Matt Skeen, a junior, made the All-Big South first team as a long snapper. The Shiloh grad also started at tight end for the Bulldogs. Gardner-Webb freshman Michael Hanna, a Collins Hill grad, made the second team as a punter.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to 770-339-8081.