Luke Lattner scored his 1,470th in the DePauw men’s basketball team’s season-ending loss to Denison University. As Denison’s head coach Bob Ghiloni stopped the handshake line to say some extra words of encouragement to the sixth-leading scorer in DePauw history, it was apparent he would go down as one of the best in school history.
With all of his success at DePauw, Lattner’s story didn’t start at DePauw, and it didn’t start in high school. His basketball story began when he played his first game as a seven-year-old.
“I was always into sports growing up,” Lattner said. “So I was always throwing a ball around with my dad and brothers at a young age.”
Lattner’s grandpa, John Lattner, was a Heisman Trophy football winner at Notre Dame in 1953. Luke’s twin brother Johnny is a senior football player at DePauw. Despite all the football influence in his life, Lattner has always found his personal joy in basketball.
“He took a leap of faith when he chose to play basketball over football,” John Lattner said. “He occasionally got some flak for it, but it obviously paid off in the long run.”
Even though he chose to play a different sport than his grandfather, he was still one of the biggest influences on his life and always pushed him to reach his potential on the basketball court. “My grandpa made a major impact on my life,” Lattner said. “I got to be with my grandpa and spend time with him and pick his brain a little. I learned a lot from him on how to conduct myself on and off the athletic fields which I have kept with me to this day.”
Lattner made his biggest strides in his basketball career during high school at Fenwick High School. He started his sophomore year on the junior varsity team, but was promoted mid-way through the year to varsity.
“My sophomore year was when I really knew I wanted to play college ball,” Lattner said. “I always loved playing the game but it was at that point when I realized I was good enough to actually play in college.” He was named Chicago City Catholic League Player of the Year his senior year before committing to DePauw.
Lattner had an instant impact for the Tigers as a freshman scoring 5.5 points per contest. As a sophomore, he began the year as the sixth man but surged into a starting role eight games into the year. He scored 12.5 points per game and received All-NCAC second team.
Lattner’s sophomore year may go down as his favorite. Entering the NCAC tournament as a four-seed, the team knocked off Wittenberg University in double overtime, top-seeded Ohio Wesleyan University in the semi-finals and the College of Wooster in the championship. This gave them an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament where they beat Washington University in the first round to reach the Sweet Sixteen. They lost a hard fought contest to the No. 6 ranked team in the country, Augustana College, by only two points.
“I will never forget that run we had my sophomore year,” Lattner said. “That run and the guys we did it with will stay with me for the rest of my life and I consider all of them brothers because of it.
The team has not had the same success since that run in the past two years. Lattner’s junior year the team did not make the NCAC tournament, and this year they snuck in as the 6-seed. However, during these two years, Lattner turned himself into one of the most feared players in the conference.
His breakout performance may have been against Wabash College last year when he scored 55 points, a DePauw school record, in a triple overtime win. “That was a special game,” Lattner said. “I was lucky enough to hit some shots early on that got me rolling, and my teammates kept feeding me the ball.”
Lattner’s impact on the program will last longer than his four-year stint. Younger players that have played with him or watched him play have a standard to work toward. “He has set the benchmark for everyone that plays basketball at DePauw,” first-year guard Connor Holly said. “All the younger guys on the team look up to him as one of the best to play in this program.”
DePauw basketball will have a new identity next year. It will no longer have Lattner as the face of the program. He won’t be able to ask for the ball when the shot clock is winding down and someone needs to shoot. There will be a new player putting up extra shots after practice while everyone else has already hit the showers.
“I have had an unbelievable four-year experience here at DePauw,” Lattner said. “Being here has taught me so many things that I will cherish forever. However, being a part of the basketball team and having 20 teammates there for you at all times has been the best experience for me.”