TROY, Ill. — Luke Cox takes pride in his vast array of basketball shoes.
The Triad High senior is a true sneakerhead through and through. He possessed as many as 83 pairs in his collection at one time.
But unlike most of his fellow hobbyists, Cox can do plenty of damage in those shoes as well.
The 6-foot-3 guard is coming off one of the best seasons in the long history of boys basketball at the Troy-based school.
He helped the Knights tie a school record with 24 wins this past winter while averaging 23.1 points per game.
But he is just as overjoyed with his shoe collection, which might be among the best in the area.
“It’s just something I’ve always loved doing,” Cox said. “I’m pretty passionate about it”.
Cox is well-known around the area for his eye-popping collection — as well as his eye-popping moves on the court.
“He’s got some serious shoe game,” said Triad senior Nate Winslow, his teammate and good friend. “And he helps all of us. Once, I bought some $180 Kobes (shoe brand) from him for just for 60 bucks.”
Cox is a big-time shoe wheeler dealer. He scans the internet looking for bargains. If he finds one, he will add it to his collection or sell it at a profit and get even more shoes.
He recently bought an $800 pair and solid it for $920 less than an hour later.
“Around here, when anyone needs shoes, we know where to go,” Winslow said.
Cox, like most sole freaks, rarely wears his more valuable items. The shining stars in his collection include a pair of Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Oreos, a Jordan 1 Retro Off-White and a Nike Air Presto Off-White. Each set has a price tag well more than $500.
He began collecting while in middle school. Cox recalls that every birthday or Christmas he would get several gift cards from area shoe stores. He parlayed those presents into some solid value buys and has been purchasing and selling ever since.
For the most part, Cox's parents are comfortable with his unique hobby.
“Every once in a while my mom (Angela) gets mad if it keeps me from paying attention to my school work,” Cox said.
On the court, Cox is a terror in his normal Kobe Bryant brand footwear. His 761 points this season were the second most in a campaign at Triad behind Brad Droy, who amassed 821 points in 1975. Droy went on to a successful career at the University of Missouri, averaging 10.4 and 11.2 points in his last two seasons in Columbia.
Cox hit 51 percent from the field — 40 percent from 3-point range. Despite his scoring prowess, he still led the Knights in assists (96), steals (48) and blocks (21).
“The first time I met him, the first thing out of his mouth when I asked him what he wanted to get out of the season was for the team to win,” Triad first-year coach Jeff Guidry said. “He wanted to have a winning season, that was the most important thing to him.”
Triad finished 11-19 in 2019 and 14-15 the year before.
“We wanted to get to a level where people would understand that they’ll have a (tough) time when they played us,” Cox said. “I think we got there.”
Cox finished his career with 1,329 points — good enough for sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list behind Droy (1,962), Dennis Neumann (1,929), Noah Moss (1,782), Ryan Byrne (1,339) and Dave Wells (1,335).
A strong on-ball defender, Cox did most of his damage despite facing defenses geared toward stopping him. He saw plenty of box-and-ones and double teams all season long.
“That makes what he accomplished even more amazing,” Guidry said.
Cox worked hard on his game during the offseason and developed a strong move to the basket. In the past, he did most of his scoring from the outside. This time around, he displayed an uncanny knack for getting to the rim, which made him even tougher to stop.
“I wanted to add different parts to my game,” Cox said.
Cox, who topped the 30-point mark seven times this season, was a first team all-Mississippi Valley Conference selection for the second successive year and also gained honorable mention all-state honors from the Association Press.
He also was a third-team honoree on the Post-Dispatch All-Metro squad.
Cox will continue his career at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, a two-year school.
“I think if I work hard at it I can get to the next level,” Cox said.
Guidry has no doubts.
“He’s just a gym rat, he loves the game,” Guidry said. “That can carry you a long way.”
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