If Lawrence High sports were a monarchy, senior Chance Riley may not be the king, but he certainly would occupy a place on the royal court. After leading the Lions to the Class 6A state quarterfinals and a 6-5 season as the starting quarterback, he now occupies a leading role on the basketball team.
Riley started as a junior and a few games as a sophomore, but mostly filled the sixth man role that year. As the only returning starter from Lawrence High's 11-11 team of a year ago, he guides this season's squad as it learns a new offense.
The 6-foot-5 interior player can rebound, swat shots and anchor the middle, but feels just as comfortable launching shots from the perimeter. He has nailed six three-pointers in his last two games.
"I'm a green light on the three obviously," Riley said. "But I also play the post and five with Johnny (Novotny)."
Riley has transitioned from the gridiron to the hardwood for winter, but come next year he may play both on the collegiate level.
What is your role on the LHS basketball team?
I am one of the leaders. I have the most experience. I've been through it before.
How do you lead?
I try to lead by example. I'm not the best vocal leader on the team. I don't express myself very well.
What did you learn from football that you can bring to the basketball court?
Just experience from leading a team and knowing situations where we've got to be aware. Clock management - since obviously I'm the quarterback - is a big deal.
What are your goals this year?
Getting a state championship - that's our whole team goal, but not just getting there, making a run for it at the end.
Do you like basketball or football better?
Three weeks ago, it was football. Now it's basketball. Hopefully, I'll find a small school where I can play both. If not, I'll probably go with football. There's more potential there.
Where are you looking at for college?
A couple of JUCOs I'm looking at - Butler (Community College) and Fort Scott (Community College). Then I'm still thinking KU, maybe, and walk on. Maybe (University of) Montana or (University of) Wyoming. I just sent in tapes for a couple of other schools.
You said you could play both football and basketball at Butler and Fort Scott. What about Kansas, Montana or Wyoming?
Probably football. Definitely I'd have to walk on. That's why I'm thinking JUCOs, so I maybe could get a scholarship after a couple years.
How have you improved at basketball?
I'm more patient. I don't force anything, and I'm a lot more aggressive down low. I play a lot stronger in the post, and I'm not settling for jump shots. And I've gotten a lot better shooting free throws.
How do you like LHS coach Chris Davis' new emphasis on interior play?
It's more structure. You know what you're supposed to do. There's more patience and slower scoring. It means we better play more defense because we won't score as many points. I like it better.
What college/NBA player plays similarly to your style?
A big guy that can shoot. Let's think. Can (University of North Carolina's Tyler) Hansbrough shoot?
How about Mehmet Okur of the Utah Jazz? He averages more than 15 points and eight rebounds and shoots well from three?
Yeah. He's an outside-inside guy. I'll go with him.