Bryce Lucas is playing with the under 17 junior team at the BC Junior Provincial Championships in Penticton March 20 to 25, and he's only in Grade 2.
There’s no doubt seven-year-old Bryce Lucas is the youngest player participating at this year's British Columbia Junior All-Native Basketball Tournament.
The event, which runs March 20 to March 25 in Penticton, is for those aged 17 and under. Those who have turned 18, however, during the first three months of this year are also eligible to play.
Bryce is a Grade 2 student at Maquinna Elementary School in Port Alberni. He plays in the tournament for the Homiss Wolves, a team coached by his father Bruce.
"For his age, he's pretty good," said Bruce. "His dribbling is pretty good. And he shoots pretty well. Every week he's shooting from further and further out."
Bryce has been tagging along to the team's practices and games for three years now. During practices he takes part in all of the team's running and shooting drills. So his father decided to reward him this season by letting him play in some of the Wolves' tournament games, usually when the Homiss side is enjoying a comfortable lead.
"The first time I put him out there the other coach was yelling at the ref that there was a kid on the floor," Lucas said. "He didn't realize he was one of our players."
The youngster has played in two of the Wolves' five tournaments so far this season. He didn't take part in one tournament because he was sick. And he also missed two other events because of conflicts with his hockey team.
This is the second year Bryce is playing hockey. And, somewhat incredibly, this also marks the fifth season that he is playing lacrosse. Bryce lists hockey as his favorite sport. And basketball as his second favorite.
But he said he enjoys practices more than games.
"I do (like playing)," said Bryce, who considers the Los Angeles Lakers his favorite pro basketball team. "But I like practices more because I get better."
The Wolves are considered a shoe-in for a medal at the provincial tournament.
Bryce's mother Kelly said she wasn't concerned about her youngest son playing against some others up to a decade older.
"He's a pretty tough kid," she said, adding Bryce has three older brothers who played sports. "He's pretty resilient. I wasn't concerned because he's been playing sports since he could walk."
When he does play in games for the Wolves, Bryce is usually instructed to simply remain in the offensive zone. But he doesn't always follow this advice.
"He's played defence a couple of times," his father said. "He stole the ball once from a bigger kid. He challenged him and he stole the ball."
Bryce has also contributed offensively.
During a tournament in Tofino, he netted 16 points in one game.
Bryce's 17-year-old brother Aaron, who is also on the Wolves' roster, wasn't surprised by his brother's high-scoring ways in that contest.
"I was giving him the ball," he said. "We were all giving him the ball when he was open."
Bryce also scored at least one basket in each of the other four games he's played so far this season.
Bruce Lucas said all of the Wolves' players were receptive when told Bryce would be suiting up with them.
"They had no problem with that," he said. "They all know he was going to practice and was doing everything they were doing. And when he does play, they're really protective of him."
Aaron Lucas said opponents are often baffled when his brother hits the court.
"They don't really know what to do," he said.
But Wolves' players ensure their youngest player doesn't get laughed at or picked on.
"If they do, we make them pay," Aaron Lucas said.
At the moment, the Wolves' organization does not have any younger basketball teams that Bryce could play on. And he's three years away from being old enough to play on a school team.
But he's going to continue playing some hoops.
"I think by the time he's 12 or 13, he'll be a really good player," Bruce Lucas said.