Ryskamp follows in sister's footsteps
Freshman wears number of former Laker great, becomes starter
Freshman guard Luke Ryskamp of the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team enters the Fieldhouse Arena an hour before practice for some extra time to work on his shot.
Ryskamp, donning an all-blue Laker practice jersey contrasted by No. 23 in white, moves to the main court and, with a teammate counting them out, proceeds to knock down 10 straight 3-pointers.
The 6-3 Schoolcraft, Mich., native has connected on six triples to start his young career — 216 fewer than his older sister, Erika, made during her distinguished four years playing for GVSU.
“I talk to her a lot,” Luke said. “She just tells me to keep my head up and to keep working hard when things are bad.”
Hard work is in the family. So, too, are the connections to the Laker program.
Luke’s sister, now Erika Wallace, met her husband, Marcus Wallace, during her time in Allendale. He also played basketball for GVSU and happened to play under a certain first-year head coach named Ric Wesley, now Luke’s head coach.
Erika suited up from 2004-07 and, while wearing No. 23, became a household name in the GVSU record book. Her 222 career 3-pointers rank as the second most in the history of the women’s program, along with her 39.3 percent mark from long range.
“The first time seeing him in a Laker uniform almost brought tears to my eyes,” she said. “Part of it was missing those days but mostly just seeing him and how much he’s matured over the years. It was almost surreal.”
She was a national champion — a key player for the 2005-06 women’s team that posted a school best 33-3 overall record and won the program’s only NCAA Division II title.
“She was big into defense, so she just tells me to play the best defense I can,” Luke said.
It seems the siblings share a passion for winning.
Luke has also won a championship — a class C state championship — in 2011 while at Schoolcraft High School. He led his team to a 91-10 overall record during his four-year career and was named a unanimous First Team All-State honoree as a senior.
He owns the best free-throw shooting percentage for GVSU this season, knocking down 21-of-26 attempts thus far, and recently played his way into the starting lineup.
His ability to score was on full display Saturday in an 87-74 victory at Malone University when he notched a career-high 17 points to go with two rebounds and a block.
“Luke’s a really talented scorer, a pure scorer,” said sophomore guard Darren Kapustka, who also drained 10 in a row after the freshman accomplished the feat. “He can shoot the ball, he can get to the lane, he can finish, he’s good on the fast break; everything offensively is phenomenal.”
Ryskamp said he hopes to better understand team defense at the college level and mentioned Kapustka, along with fifth-year senior guard Rob Woodson and junior guard Ryan Sabin, for prime examples of defensive intensity.
Wesley said Ryskamp is starting to look more comfortable offensively in the starting rotation.
“Luke’s a good open-floor player,” Wesley said. “When he gets the ball in transition, he’s really got a good ability to attack the basket, twist and turn, and he’s got long arms and really finishes well in the open floor. That’s the best thing, and the fact that he’s a good outside shooter adds to that.”
But which sibling would be victorious in a game of 1-on-1? Erika said she is the reigning champion of the rivalry, but declined to comment on how long ago the driveway showdown took place.
Regardless, Luke seems to be on track for a long career at GVSU, and with his teammates supporting him and his big sister looking on, the sky is the limit for the Laker rookie.