Lewis Joining NEPA Stars & Stripes

November 29, 2017 GMT

Eugene Lewis played football in front of as many as 107,000 fans, catching touchdowns from Christian Hackenberg at Penn State and Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma. But it was with much more intimate crowds where he kept his basketball skills sharp, playing with Allen Robinson, Daesean Hamilton, Akeel Lynch and Jordan Lucas, to name a few. “We played with a whole group of guys and we’d play the basketball team, too,” Lewis said. “We’d go to the rec and go play with them. I did the same thing when I was at Oklahoma.” Fresh off his time with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, Lewis, 24, will return to the local basketball scene this weekend with the expansion NEPA Stars & Stripes franchise of the ABA. “I literally — from when I got to Penn State and Oklahoma — would play basketball every weekend. Basketball is something that you could go and do whenever you want,” Lewis said. “I’m actually still confident in my game and I know I still got it. This Saturday will definitely put it all in perspective for me, though.” Lewis, a forward, played three years of high school basketball at Valley West then finished his senior year at Meyers. He was a four-year starter and three-time Citizens’ Voice all-star, scoring more than 1,000 career points and averaging at least 17.5 points per game his sophomore through senior seasons. Over his four years in college, Lewis — listed at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds — caught 122 passes for 1,569 yards and 10 touchdowns as a wide receiver. After not being selected in the NFL Draft, Lewis signed with the Alouettes, whose season ended Nov. 3. He had seven catches this season for 120 yards. Lewis said his agent is in negotiations to have him back with the Alouettes in 2018. In the meantime, Lewis intends to play for owner Isiah Walker’s NEPA Stars & Stripes franchise when his schedule permits it. “I know my body, I know my limitations, and I know my main goal,” Lewis said. “Football’s my No. 1 thing. But at the same time, I’m competitive and I’m going to go out there and do what I do.” Although he hasn’t signed it yet, Lewis anticipates agreeing to a finished contract in time for Saturday’s 4:15 p.m. game at GAR High School, where the NEPA Stars & Stripes are hosting PG Valor. Lewis said he’s known Walker, a GAR graduate, since middle school. “I talked to him on the phone a couple weeks back and he said he would love to have me,” Lewis said. Lewis said he was “excited” and “grateful” for the opportunity, adding that he thinks he’s a better basketball player now than he was in high school. And while it will keep him in shape for football season, Lewis pointed to the difference between “football shape” and “basketball shape.” “The big difference is, basketball you’re constantly running. You’re always moving,” he said. “Football is more of a sprint, stop, sprint, stop. Football you could huddle up and, depending on the point of the game, the quarterbacks can use the play clock to slow things down or speed things up. Basketball is run and gun.” Lewis’ father, Junie Lewis, was a second-round NBA Draft pick by the Utah Jazz in 1989. Lewis’ sister, Alexis Lewis, is the all-time leading girls basketball scorer in the Wyoming Valley Conference. She’s now in her junior year and the leading scorer for Division I Iona. The NEPA Stars & Stripes compete as a semi-professional basketball team in the ABA’s Chesapeake Division. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children. Contact the writer: mbufano@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2060; @CVBufano on Twitter