It wasn’t long after Khadre Lane’s sophomore season at Bishop Seabury Academy ended that he began thinking about the future of his basketball career.
The 6-foot-4 swingman, with his innate speed and explosiveness, had just helped the Seahawks reach the Class 1A-Division I state tournament, where they lost in the first round to eventual state champion Ashland.
His state debut proved challenging, as Lane finished with 11 points (4-for-14 shooting) and eight rebounds in Seabury’s 51-50 loss, but formidable opposition wasn’t the norm for him at the 1A program. Already garnering some interest from NCAA Division I basketball programs because of the athletic ability he showcased with the KC Run GMC AAU program, Lane began to ponder whether continuing to play against lower-tier high school teams would help or hurt him.
After long discussions with his family, as well as Seabury coach Ashley Battles, Lane knew he needed a change in scenery and competition. In late April, he made the biggest leap he could, to 6A, by transferring to Free State High.
“That was really tough,” Lane admitted. “I felt really bad.”
The same as when he transferred to Seabury from West Middle School in eighth grade, Lane knew the move was in his best interest at that juncture of his life, but that didn’t eliminate some trepidation.
“The worst part was leaving my other (Seabury) teammates, the ones who weren’t seniors,” Lane said, “because I went through a lot with them and I’ve known them for longer, played with them longer.”
The Seahawks faced some 5A and 4A schools this past season, but now that he is a Firebird, nearly every opponent will be 6A, and Lane said that’s what he needed. At Seabury, Lane could be nonchalant in his approach at times and his team could still win in a blowout. At Free State, that won’t be an option.
“I have to make sure I bring it every single night, and I think that makes me better off for college,” Lane said. “I can’t take games off like I was doing at Seabury.”
The transfer never would have happened if Lane didn’t have his future in mind. With running mates Thomas Diaz and Georgi Funtarov graduating this past spring, Battles said Lane could have returned to Seabury for his junior year and put up 30-plus points a night (he averaged just over 18 as a sophomore). But even Lane’s former coach thinks playing at the 6A level will help his development “tremendously.”
With his college recruitment picking up, Lane has received the most interest from Missouri Valley Conference schools. Ideally, he hopes to improve enough in his junior and senior years to land at a much larger program from the Big 12, Pac 12, SEC or Big East.
Lane has a long list of schools that interest him: Colorado, Florida, Iowa State, Kansas, LSU, Memphis, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Creighton, Illinois State, Missouri State and Wichita State. And he’s willing to listen to any of them and more.
A spot at any of those programs is far from guaranteed. Both Free State coach Chuck Law and Battles agreed Lane will have to improve in a number of areas to earn a scholarship. First off, he must get stronger and become a more physical player by adding some bulk to his lean, athletic frame. Both coaches also indicated it would benefit Lane to not worry as much about his scoring and make sure he fits in as one of five players offensively, while at the same time focusing on becoming an elite defender and rebounder. Those are the kinds of intangibles that will make him an alluring prospect.
With a down-to-earth personality that lacks even a hint of cockiness, Lane is well aware of the shortcomings that could keep him from playing at a high, or even mid-major, level. This summer he is focusing on ball handling, among other things, and trying to remind himself he can’t be satisfied just because some schools have looked in his direction.
“I know I need to get bigger to play D-I,” he said. “My shot, it’s good, but it’s not always good. Sometimes it’s horrible.”
Aftermath of a move
Law won’t sugar-coat anything for Lane when it comes to dissecting the pros and cons of his game, but the FSHS coach is intrigued by what the Firebirds’ new addition will mean for the program.
“Obviously he brings some things to the table that we don’t have and that we haven’t had in a long time,” Law said, referring to Lane’s athleticism and ability to get to the rim. “We’re trying to really focus on being a running team and I hope that it’s something he’ll want to really buy into. I think if we can get him out on the wing and attacking the basket, it could be exciting.”
Summer workouts, leagues and tournaments have allowed the affable Lane to get acclimated with his new Free State teammates, including returning varsity players Logan Bannister, Cole Moreano, Keith Loneker, Blake Winslow and Reshawn Caro.
But it’s not as if they were complete strangers. Bannister, a rising senior, was excited to learn of Lane’s transfer. He remembered a summer league game FSHS had against Seabury in 2011 — a day when the Seahawks were without Funtarov and Diaz.
“He pretty much almost beat us by himself,” Bannister recalled. “He was able to get to the basket whenever he wanted and pull up and hit jumpers. Obviously, he’s a freak athletically.”
According to Law, Lane already looks comfortable with his new teammates — on and off the floor. Between that and his basketball IQ, the coach doesn’t anticipate much trouble for Lane’s assimilation at FSHS.
As for Seabury, Battles knows his team will be nearly unrecognizable without Lane, especially in the absence of Diaz and Funtarov. Battles said the Seahawks will have to improve defensively and play more “team ball.” A rising junior, Marcus Allen could be the most talented and experienced player on Seabury’s roster next season.
“It’s going to be very difficult,” Battles said, “because we lost some great players.”
Still, the coach made it clear the Seahawks won’t hold a grudge against their former teammate — “Obviously, everybody at Seabury will be rooting for him to do well,” Battles said.
July will be a big month for Lane, with KC Run GMC playing in tournaments in front of college coaches, but he is looking forward to the winter, when he’ll finally suit up for the Firebirds. He sat in the FSHS bleachers after a recent workout and absorbed his new surroundings, thinking about the possibilities of his upcoming junior year.
“Coach Law’s a great coach. Everything down here is great. I like how we play,” Lane said, before grinning and adding, “I’m excited to play in this big gym in front of all these people.”