Luther Muhammad’s reasons for playing in the Kingdom Summer League on Sunday were twofold.
First, the Ohio State sophomore still had one final exam to complete following Friday’s final team workout of the summer. So while most of his fellow Buckeyes were headed home for a little break, Muhammad was still on campus and able to play one more time in the league at Columbus South.Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our BuckeyeXtra newsletter
But then, perhaps most importantly to Muhammad, came the reason the likes of which helped endear him to the Ohio State coaching staff while being recruited out of Jersey City, New Jersey. No other Ohio State player took part in the penultimate week of the league, which often features fluid rosters, although junior Kaleb Wesson came out to watch Muhammad."
"I still have exams left, plus I wanted to play one more game," he told The Dispatch after the game. "We lost last weekend, so I wanted to end it on a good note just in case I don’t come next week."
Muhammad made the most of what will likely be his final appearance in the league. One game after Gahanna native and Michigan State product Nick Ward suited up for the first time ever, Muhammad poured in 34 points on 13-of-22 shooting. Included in there was a 7-for-13 effort from three-point range, numbers dulled slightly by two late misses as his teammates encouraged him to force up a few more shots.
It’s been a big part of Muhammad’s summer emphasis after he shot 37.5 percent (36 for 96) from three-point range but went just 5 for 28 (17.9 percent) in the team’s final 11 games.
"Like I said at the beginning of the summer, I was just trying to be more consistent on my shooting and it’s showing," he said. "I’ve been in the gym every day and my position coach (Ryan Pedon) works with me. We get a lot of shots up, I get a lot of shots up on my own and it’s just showing off. I’ve just got to stay consistent. I try to shoot the same shot every time."
I’m not sure @LutherMuhammad missed during the third quarter. He hits a three to close it out in the @KingdomSLeague. pic.twitter.com/Dk6zEkjBEA
— Adam Jardy (@AdamJardy) July 28, 2019
While Pedon has helped him work on his shot, Muhammad said newly hired assistant Jake Diebler has helped him elsewhere on the court.
“Diebler helped me a lot with pivot moves,” he said. “We work on a lot of pivot moves, getting the ball up quick on a layup, just quick finishes.”
After spending his freshman season exploring a major, Muhammad said he’s leaning toward majoring in communication with a minor in business. Muhammad’s final exam for the summer was in Intro to Children’s Literature, a course the sophomore said he’s enjoyed.
“It talks about how kids react to certain things and then how parents react to certain things,” he said. “Another thing is how kids react to things they like and books they like. Sometimes with kids, instead of reading all day long you do hand movements, clip, probably sing along. If you sing certain books, a kid might like the rhythm and get used to the rhythm and catch on and get used to the book and actually like the book.”
When the season gets underway, Muhammad said he’s hoping the nickname coined by league organizer Tihon Johnson and repeated by the in-game announcer will catch on at Ohio State.
They call him “The Lieutenant.”
“Yeah, I like it,” Muhammad said with a smile. “it seems like everybody’s calling me Lieutenant. Even Zo’s (freshman Alonzo Gaffney) started calling me the Lieutenant.”