If his first practice at Montrose High School was any indication, Luke Hutto was destined to play basketball at the collegiate level.
His coach for the next four years, Ryan Voehringer, certainly believed so, convinced of Hutto’s future opportunity as soon as Hutto “walked in the door.”
“He could play all facets of the game,” said Voehringer of Hutto’s first impression. “He could play offense, defense, rebound and shoot. He’s got all the intangibles of a college basketball player, and the best thing about Luke is he’s an even better kid.”
Three years later, Hutto, now a senior and two-time Southwestern League Player of the Year, signed his letter of intent to play college basketball at Fort Lewis College, a Division II school with a boys basketball program that’s led by head coach Bob Pietrack, who’s posted a 112-58 career record since taking the reigns in 2015.
“It’s just a really surreal moment,” Hutto said moments after signing. “That’s what the whole goal is from when you’re a little kid, and it's the dream.”
The dream became a possibility when Pietrack approached Hutto while the Indians were at a basketball camp in Fort Lewis last summer.
Pietrack shared his number with Hutto and the two stayed in touch throughout the subsequent months. After some back and forth, Pietrack brought Hutto and his father, Billy Hutto, back to Fort Lewis for an official visit.
For Hutto, Fort Lewis and its basketball program “checked all the boxes.”
“Fort Lewis is a basketball school,” said Billy, who was on hand with wife Mariah Hutto and sons, Aiden and Brekin, at Luke’s signing.
Hutto earned the opportunity at Fort Lewis following an impressive three-year run in MHS’s boys basketball program. He started on varsity all 25 games during his freshman season and was the team’s leading scorer.
As a sophomore, Hutto averaged 14.6 points per game for a 20-5 Montrose team and was named SWL Player of the Year.
Last winter, in a condensed season due to the pandemic, Hutto bested his 2019 season offensively, averaging 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He was named the SWL’s best player for the second straight season and was a first-team all-state player in 4A.
“If you look back to freshman year, I’m a completely different player,” Hutto said of his basketball development over the past three years. “IQ, athleticism, finishing — it’s all improved a lot.”
Hutto credits the tutelage of Voehringer for his year-to-year growth. Mariah, at first curious about how her sons would adapt to attending a larger school in Montrose, added that the brothers' bond has been a key component of Luke's development — the brothers, along with Billy, have previously played together, sometimes playing 2-on-2 in the backyard.
Mariah also praised Voehringer and the coaching staff.
“One thing that really relieved me was Coach Voehringer because he was very much about the overall character of the kids,” she said. “It’s not about being just good ball players, but that they keep their grades up, aren’t to swear and are on time. Setting that standard has been really good for Luke.”
A strong engineering curriculum at Fort Lewis was a plus for Hutto, who plans to study civil and structural engineering.
Before then, though, he’ll have one final run at the high school level, with eyes on helping replicate — and to best — Montrose’s performance last season when the Indians went on a historic run, reaching the 4A state title game after winning 18 straight games.
Hutto will cement his status as a four-year starter this winter and is on track to eclipse 1,000 points scored in his high school career — he's accumulated 876 points over the past three years.
“That’s hard to do,” Voehringer said, “especially at a 4A school.”
Though Hutto has compiled a laundry list of individual accolades, his team-first approach has helped elevate the program.
“He’s a team guy,” Voehringer said. “He’d rather win than score 25 a night, which he proved last year. He was more happy getting to the state finals than averaging 14 points a game.”
Voehringer expects Hutto’s back-to-the-bucket style of play to transition well at the next level, a skill he says is “a lost art” in today’s game.
Hutto isn’t sure which position he’ll be playing at Fort Lewis next year. His focus currently is helping Montrose return to the 4A state title game, though his excitement for collegiate play is clear.
“I’m going to learn so much going from the top of the totem pole all the way back down to the bottom,” Hutto said. “I’m super excited to grow as a basketball player, develop my game and have fun.”