For the second time this month, a Northwestern State student-athlete signed a professional contract in their respective sport.
Basketball center Ishmael Lane signed a professional deal in Japan’s top basketball league with the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins.
“It still doesn’t feel real, and it hasn’t me yet,” said Lane, who has been celebrating the signing in his native Port Allen with family members. “This is something I’ve always wanted as a little kid, and it feels great.
“It’s been a long process going through everything and trying to figure out where I’d be, but it was just about having patience, trusting the whole process and getting the best fit for me.”
Lane excelled in his Demon career, finishing in NSU’s career top-10 in three different statistics – 1,467 points (ninth all-time), 842 rebounds (eighth all-time) and 169 blocks (third all-time).
The center led NSU in rebounding, blocks and shooting percentage in each of his four seasons.
“He’s a great young man with a strong family at his core, and they did everything together and supported him as much as any family I’ve been around,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy. “He really worked at his craft, and he especially excelled as a senior.
“He played in a couple of Athletes in Action tours, and along with the great experiences, he saw himself playing alongside players from Power Five schools. He said, ‘Wait a minute, I can be that kind of player.”
As a senior, Lane led the Southland Conference in rebounding (11.3) and blocked shots (2.3) per game in league play en route to the league’s defensive player of the year.
The SLC First-Team pick averaged nearly 14 points and 10 rebounds as a senior.
McConathy said Lane’s willingness to go above and beyond on the boards separated him.
“I told him if he wanted to be remembered, he needed to be a great rebounder,” McConathy said. “There were many games in our league and one particular nonconference game against SMU where he was the best player on the floor. He had 24 points and 13 rebounds at SMU, and he had four games of at least 15 rebounds this season.
“He became relentless and wasn’t going to be denied a rebound or whatever he was going for. He didn’t take a back seat. He played a team with a couple of really good bigs, and he dunked on one of them and completely messed his mind up. He has the ability to establish himself as the man on the floor.”
Lane had seven consecutive double-doubles as a senior and finished his career with 26. He was the top vote-getter on the NABC District 23 team.
Lane said his new Nagoya squad plays up-tempo much like McConathy’s Demons, and the 6-foot-8 Louisianan has been told he’ll fit as a power forward.
“Talking to the coach and managers over there and seeing clips of their games, they run a lot just like we did at NSU,” Lane said. “I’ll fall right into place.
“I’m excited to see the different sites and get used to the city. I’m ready to try new foods and adjusting to a new culture.”
McConathy added that he doesn’t doubt Lane will transition to professional basketball because he’s extremely coachable.
Lane graduated with a communications degree and was also a Southland Conference All-Academic selection.
Lane’s professional contract comes on the heels of sprinter Micah Larkins turning professional.